10 Places Kids Eat Free

Last summer, the slow economy spurred restaurants to try to pull in cash-strapped families with offers of free meals for kids. Maybe it’s a good sign for the economy that for the summer of 2010, fewer national or regional chains appear to be offering similar deals. But we still found 10 popular restaurants offering families a meal out without emptying their wallet.

Note: These specials vary from restaurant to restaurant and are subject to change at any time. The sample deals are real listings, but may not apply to the specific restaurants in your area. (Sometimes, the deal in your area might even be better.)

Click here to see the list of restaurants

Candy: History of the Boston Baked Beans

The Boston Baked Bean” is a generic name used throughout the candy industry for sugar coated peanuts.  Ferrara Pan Candy Company developed their line of Boston Baked Beans in the early 1930’s, right around the same time that Red Hots were introduced.

The Boston Baked Bean is created using the cold panned candy process.  This process involves building candy pieces from single units, such as peanuts, and tossing them into revolving pans while adding flavor, color and other candy ingredients.  This process continues until the pieces become the size desired

Sweet Inspiration: Spotlight on Destined Image in Baltimore

Chocolate-covered strawberries are a favorite treat from Destined Images.

What does it take to start your own catering business? Just doing it, apparently. Monique Brownson is an entrepreneur with big plans for her Baltimore-based catering business, Destined Image. Although, she is still in the midst of her humble beginnings, Brownson takes a positive attitude, even when met with the challenges of being short-staffed, short on cash, working as her own marketing consultant, and planning events dependent on “word of mouth” support. By and by, the young entrepreneur is increasing her contacts and getting her name out, which is one of her biggest goals for her company.

Brownson realized her love for cooking at the age of ten, under the watchful eyes of her grandmother. She credits her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother for her love of cooking, but according to Brownson her grandmother was the first one to light the flame of this passion. “She started me out on frying chicken wings.” One might wonder where you go from there, but Brownson quickly answers, “…then it moved on to biscuits and baking cakes…” and as any child would acknowledge, her favorite part was licking the bowl. In 2006, after a brief stint of unemployment, Brownson put her cooking to the test by having bake-sales. She now coooks dinners, caters church affairs, and plans events. One of the annual events for Destined Image is “Jazz Poetic Love Notes,” a Valentine’s Day banquet, where Brownson’s culinary skills are front and center in an elegant display.

Destined Image chocolate covered pretzels

The signature food for Destined Images is chocolate, which speaks to the owners self admitted status as a “Chocolate-aholic.” However, this is not the only reason chocolate is the signature food. At first, her focus was on arts and crafts, center pieces and gift baskets, and although she still provides those services, she  changed her focus after conducting a little independent research. Brownson recalls looking on the internet and seeing how much companies charged for chocolate-covered strawberries. It was an eye-opening experience for the young entrepreneur. Now Destined Image gives their chocolate-covered confections top-billing.  “I’m gearing more to chocolate-covered lollipops and strawberries,” Brownson says. However, she admits she will pretty much dip anything her customers ask her to dip.

Destined Image carrot cake

It’s that kind of desire to please her customers that leads her to excel. Brownson acknowledges her baby daughter as her inspiration to branch out, and she attributes the key factor to her success to her will to keep trying. “Keep trying. Keep going!” Brownson urges, “When it doesn’t work the first time…try it again the next year. Make changes….do your best and put everything out there.” She advises, “Find out the shakes and the quakes and correct them for the next time and keep going.” She will take her own advice as Destined Image takes on some new events next year  — a Mother’s Day brunch and Christmas party are in the works. She is also equipping herself with additional training so she can begin to include wedding cakes in her list of services.  Moreover, Brownson is now making strides to cater for groups of 500 and over.

In the meantime, Brownson will keep on doing what she’s doing — providing delicious quality food and moving Destined Image towards the destiny she sees just over the horizon.

To contact Destined Image for your catering needs, email Monique Brownson at destinedimage@yahoo.com.

Article by Monica Johnson

Shakespeare in Topanga Canyon, Hillside of CA.

Theatricum Botanicum kicks off its 2010 Summer Repertory Season with two offerings from the Bard. Artistic director Ellen Geer directs Hamlet, opening on Saturday, June 5 at 8 pm. Melora Marshall directs Theatricum’s one-of-a-kind, signature production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, opening on Sunday, June 6 at 3:30 pm. Both plays will run in repertory throughout the summer in the Theatricum’s 299-seat outdoor amphitheater, carved into the Topanga Canyon hillside.

Following the death of his father, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, returns home to find his uncle now occupies the throne and the queen’s bed. Spurred by the ghost of his father and surrounded by spies, Hamlet must avenge his father’s murder.

Fans of Shakespeare’s seminal revenge tragedy might want to think about seeing the Theatricum production twice: longtime company members Mike Peebler and Jeff Wiesen don’t just alternate performances in the title role – each also plays Laertes to the other’s Hamlet.

“Our actors are accustomed to playing multiple roles in numerous plays each season, and also to double casting – but with Hamlet we’re trying something new,” explains Geer. “It’s been a wonderful rehearsal period. Mike and Jeff work together like a dream, watching each other and listening to each other’s notes. They have set a wonderful tone for the whole company to emulate.

See what food to pack for dining before the show: Picnic tips in Video Section

Cinnamon Jerk Chicken Recipe from Guam

Summary: Deep rich and delicious flavors to make your chicken a family favorite.


  • 2 1/2 to 3 Pounds of Skinned Chicken pieces (I normally use skinless breast pieces, but legs and thighs are just as delicious).
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 5 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1 large onion (coarsely chopped)
  • 2 Cups water
  • 1 Can (6 ounces) tomato paste (Italian seasoning paste, if you can find it. If not, plain tomato paste is good).
  • 1 Tbsp Italian Herb Seasoning
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 Tbsp Olive OilDIRECTIONS
    1. Take a paper towel and pat dry all of the chicken pieces. Place chicken aside.
    2. In a small bowl, mix cinnamon, salt and pepper well.
    3. Rub the cinnamon mixture, with your fingers, into all of the chicken pieces.
    4. Heat Olive Oil in a large nonreactive skillet.
    5. When oil is hot, place the chicken pieces in the skillet to sear (about 4 minutes on each side). If you do not have a skillet large enough, you may need to sear the chicken in two batches. A skillet with 2 or 3″ sides works best.
    6. When chicken has been seared on both sides, remove from skillet and place aside.
    7. Lower the heat to medium-high and add 3 of the minced garlic cloves and the chopped onion.
    8. Saute the onions and garlic, until the onions become soft and golden brown.
    9. Add 1/2 cup of water to the onions and garlic in the pan. Use a spatula or spoon to deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom of the skillet and loosening any particles stuck on the bottom.
    10. When the water has mostly evaporated, add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of water, tomato paste, Italian herb seasoning and remaining minced garlic cloves. Mix well.
    11. Add the chicken back to the skillet. The tomato liquid should cover about 3/4 of the chicken. Cover the pot and simmer over medium-high heat for 30 – 40 minutes until chicken is tender and fully cooked.
    12. Place chicken mixture on a serving plate and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  • France: History of Rosé Wine

    Rose wine originally came from Bordeaux in France which has been traditionally known for its wine making skills. They first became popular just when the World War 2 ended when there was a demand for a medium sweet drink.

    Commentary from the Wine Advisor: In one of the many ways in which the world of wine lovers is divided into two parts, we have those who love to sip rosé wine, especially in the summer time, versus those who consider roseé neither fish nor fowl, a weak substitute for red and an odd replacement for white.

    I used to be firmly in the “No rosé, José” camp, but in fairness, a couple of summer visits to Provence and a few memorable lunches al fresco gave me a quick attitude adjustment, at least insofar as Provence-style pink wine is concerned, with its crisp, dry, berry and herbal scents and flavors and its great affinity for the food of the country. READ MORE

    *The Wine Advisor is a great resource for wine lovers and those who think they can not afford to be a wine lover.  I have been a subscriber for 10 years.- Crystal Johnson, MCCN Editor

    North America Tea Punch Recipe

    Fresh fruit gives your punch punch! http://samovarlife.com/

     ATTN: DIE HARD iced tea fans:

    Try this 1839 Tea Punch Recipe from The 1839 cookbook, The Kentucky Housewife, by Mrs. Lettice Bryanon: 

    Tea Punch

    Make a pint and a half of very strong tea in the usual manner; strain it, and pour it boiling (hot) on one pound and a quarter of loaf sugar. (That’s 2 1/2 cups white sugar) Add half a pint of rich sweet cream, and then stir in gradually a bottle of claret or of champaign (sic). You may heat it to the boiling point, and serve it so, or you may send it round entirely cold, in glass cups.

    Or just try this contemporary recipe from http://allrecipes.com/:

    Tea Punch


    • 1 cup white sugar
    • 1 cup strong brewed black tea
    • 4 cups orange juice
    • 4 cups pineapple juice
    • 4 cups prepared lemonade
    • 1 (2 liter) bottle ginger ale, chilled


    1. In a pitcher, combine sugar and tea. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Stir in orange juice, pineapple juice and lemonade. Chill in refrigerator for 4 hours.
    2. Just before serving, pour chilled juice mixture into a punch bowl and stir in ginger ale.


    Citrus Tea Punch                            A Taste of Home

    Australian Barbecue Salmon Filet Recipe

    Barbecue Salmon Filets are a quick, light and healthy summertime entrée.  Simply brush a little olive oil over the filets before barbecuing or even coat the skin side with a lemon-pepper seasoning for an extra layer of flavor.


    • 2 salmon filets or steaks
    • 15 baby potatoes
    • 4 large cloves of garlic
    • Juice of 3/4 of a large lemon
    • 1/4 cup of good quality extra virgin olive oil
    • 3/4 tsp of sea salt
    • 1 Tbsp of finely chopped sweet basil
    • 1 Tbsp of lemon zest
    • 1 Tbsp of finely ground black peppercorns
    • Olive oil for brushing


    1. In a shallow dish, add the ground black ppper, lemon zest and 1/4 tsp of sea salt. Mix well.
    2. Brush the salmon filets in a little olive oil, then press the skin side down in the lemon pepper mixture. Set aside.
    3. Wash the potatoes and then boil them for about 20 minutes over a high heat or until done. Drain and set aside.
    4. Meanwhile, mix the extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 tsp of sea salt, chopped basil and lemon juice together in a small bowl. Whisk quickly to emulsify the mixture. Set aside.
    5. Now barbecue the salmon skin side down first for about 5 minutes and then gently turn the salmon over and cook until desired doneness.