Creamy Lemon-Pepper Orzo with Grilled Chicken

Creamy Lem-Pepper Orzo GrilledChickenI am super excited about my Creamy Lemon-Pepper Orzo with seasoned grill chicken. If you love risotto as much as I do, but want something quick, this easy and simple orzo takes only half the time. Not only is it yummy, rich cheese and cream are switched out for tangy Greek yogurt and goat cheese for equally satisfying creaminess (and keeping it healthy).  This dish is a true classic year round.  You can use any type of protein making this dish, and I like to use chicken tights or chicken sausages.

Ingredients

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 cup whole-wheat or other whole-grain orzo
  • 1 cup frozen petite peas
  • 2 ounces finely crumbled goat cheese
  • 4 tbs chopped fresh herbs, basil & tarragon
  • 1/4 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • Zest & juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 teaspoons EVOO
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • Lemon & Pepper Seasoning (Perfect Pinch by McCormick)

Let’s make this happen…

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil; prepare a grill or grill pan for medium heat.
  2. Whisk together the yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons of the oil and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper seasoning in a medium bowl until well combined.
  3. Rub the chicken thighs with the remaining 1 teaspoon oil and sprinkle salt, pepper and Lemon & Pepper seasoning.  Season-Chicken-Thighs
  4. Grill until nicely marked and cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board and let stand for at least 5 minutes.
  5. Add the orzo to the boiling water and cook according to the package directions for al dente, stirring in the peas during the last-minute of cooking. Drain the orzo and peas, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
  6. Stir the orzo and peas into the yogurt mixture, along with the goat cheese, 3 tablespoons of the herbs and at least 3/4 cup of the cooking liquid, until well combined. Transfer to a platter.
  7. Thinly slice the chicken and arrange on top of the orzo. Sprinkle with the lemon zest and the remaining 1 tablespoon herbs.

 

 

PAIRING SUGGESTIONS

Chardonnay – White Burgundy | Chablis – this unoaked example of chardonnay will give you the highest acidity, best for super lemony dishes!  

Sauvignon Blanc – best with a grilled lemon chicken dish 

Riesling – if you want to go down this route, make sure you’re picking a completely dry example of Riesling, nothing sweet!

fork knive glass

Enjoy

Chef EdieM

Tables Settings and Ideas

Perfect Table Setting
Sage | Black & Cream Table

Wedding season has long been consumed by the business of extras, but this season some couples are doing away with the glitz and glitter and buying into the personal touches.

On the surface, weddings are a bonanza for dressmakers, for photographers promising to freeze-frame love, florists arranging memorable bouquets and bakers offering four-tier cakes that will inevitably be smeared in the faces of newlyweds.

Chefs, DJs, makeup artists, designers and venue operators alike pour their resources and time into advertising wedding services because they know it rakes in the cash.

But instead of getting tangled in the extras, some couples are deciding to strip it down to the essentials.

Summer wedding season is officially in full swing. RSVP cards have likely been returned, and brides-to-be are in home-stretch mode. But with the end in sight, there are still a few important summer wedding mistakes to avoid.

It’s not the flowers or the centerpieces or the favors. It’s not even the bridesmaid’s outfits or the lighting. All of those things are important (especially the lighting – more to come on that topic soon), but they won’t do any good if the basics don’t look amazing first. When you walk into a ceremony or reception, the tables, linens and the chairs have the most impact on the overall look because they occupy the most visual space. This means you can use the linens and the chairs to quickly and easily achieve the feel that you’re going for. Think about the kind of impression you’d like to make with your wedding decor. Are you going for bright and fun? Swanky and modern? Elegant and refined? Vintage and organic? Chances are the tables, linens and chairs can go a long way in creating that look right off the bat.

Also, I want to point out two important notes. I’m not sure you can have one of these items look great but not the other – they kind of go hand in hand. Beautiful linens can get covered up by unattractive chairs, and pretty chairs probably won’t do much for plain linens. So keep that in mind as you navigate your decor decisions. Also, as you think about your linen choices, keep in mind that white linens aren’t a terrible thing. Much the opposite in fact. If white linens add to the bright, fresh look that you’re going for then they’ll be perfect. But don’t choose white linens simply by default.

Ideas for a Beautiful Wedding Table Setting

Using unique wedding table decoration ideas. Your wedding reception table settings and designs matter! If you’re looking for wedding tablescape ideas, I have put together a list of unique ideas to give your reception a romantic, distinct ambiance.

rustic style farm table setting
Rustic Farm Table
White n Simple Plates
Elegant White & Black Table

Consider using high rectangular tables instead of traditional round tables. The first step to a unique wedding table setup starts with your table! Using high rectangular tables instead of the traditional round tables adds some dimension and a splash of modern glamour.

consider high table 2
Consider High Top Table

Deconstructed flower arrangements displayed at different heights on tables make great unique touches. What’s a wedding tablescape without a centerpiece? Bouquets of flowers are very traditional, so instead of the norm, try a deconstructed flower arrangement. For added dimension, display the arrangements at different heights.

flowers

Don’t be afraid of mixing patterns and textures – In this tablescape, a mirror charger with art deco-style china was used, wire ball accessories, contemporary square wine glasses and silverware, crystal beaded napkin rings and a lot of clear, oversized round vases. The patterns and textures, though different, tie together beautifully and enhance the chic-ness of the high rectangular table.  Mirrors paired with candles (and other sources of light) increase the romantic ambiance at any table—especially during the evening—which is perfect for a wedding reception. Scattering tea lights around the table and each guest will feel special with his or her own twinkling light, and since the table centerpieces incorporate mirrors, the scattered tea lights will add even more romantic energy.

tea lights

Table Settings : Setting a table is not as difficult as it seems. The basic rule is: Utensils are placed in the order of use; that is, from the outside in. A second rule, with only a few exceptions, is: Forks go to the left of the plate, and knives and spoons go to the right. And finally, only set the table with utensils you will use. No soup; no soup spoon.

Basic Table Setting

basic table setting

For a basic table setting, here are two great tips to help you–or your kids–remember the order of plates and utensils:

  1. Picture the word “FORKS.” The order, left to right, is: F for Fork, O for the Plate (the shape!), K for Knives and S for Spoons. (Okay, you have to forget the R, but you get the idea!)
  2. Holding your hands in front of you, touch the tips of your thumbs to the tips of your forefingers to make a lowercase ‘b’ with your left hand and a lowercase ‘d’ with your right hand. This reminds you that “bread and butter” go to the left of the place setting and “drinks” go on the right. Emily Post could have used that trick–she was often confused about which bread and butter belonged to her–and sometimes she used her neighbor’s! In which case, when it was called to her attention, she would say to the dismayed lady or gentleman, “Oh, I am always mixing them up. Here, please take mine!”

Some other things to know:

  • Knife blades always face the plate
  • The napkin goes to the left of the fork, or on the plate
  • The bread and butter knife are optional

Informal Place Setting

informal place setting

When an informal three-course dinner is served, the typical place setting includes these utensils and dishes:

Our illustration shows how a table would be set for the following menu:

  • Soup course
  • Salad or first course
  • Entree
  • Dessert

(a) Dinner Plate: This is the “hub of the wheel” and is usually the first thing to be set on the table. In our illustration, the dinner plate would be placed where the napkin is, with the napkin on top of the plate.

(b) Two Forks: The forks are placed to the left of the plate. The dinner fork, the larger of the two forks, is used for the main course; the smaller fork is used for a salad or an appetizer. The forks are arranged according to when you need to use them, following an “outside-in” order. If the small fork is needed for an appetizer or a salad served before the main course, then it is placed on the left (outside) of the dinner fork; if the salad is served after the main course, then the small fork is placed to the right (inside) of the dinner fork, next to the plate.

(c) Napkin: The napkin is folded or put in a napkin ring and placed either to the left of the forks or on the center of the dinner plate. Sometimes, a folded napkin is placed under the forks.

(d) Dinner Knife: The dinner knife is set immediately to the right of the plate, cutting edge facing inward. (If the main course is meat, a steak knife can take the place of the dinner knife.) At an informal meal, the dinner knife may be used for all courses, but a dirty knife should never be placed on the table, place mat or tablecloth.

(e) Spoons: Spoons go to the right of the knife. In our illustration, soup is being served first, so the soup spoon goes to the far (outside) right of the dinner knife; the teaspoon or dessert spoon, which will be used last, goes to the left (inside) of the soup spoon, next to the dinner knife.

(f) Glasses: Drinking glasses of any kind — water, wine, juice, iced tea — are placed at the top right of the dinner plate, above the knives and spoons.

Other dishes and utensils are optional, depending on what is being served, but may include:

(g) Salad Plate: This is placed to the left of the forks. If salad is to be eaten with the meal, you can forgo the salad plate and serve it directly on the dinner plate. However, if the entree contains gravy or anything runny, it is better to serve the salad on a separate plate to keep things neater.

(h) Bread Plate with Butter Knife: If used, the bread plate goes above the forks, with the butter knife placed diagonally across the edge of the plate, handle on the right side and blade facing down.

(i) Dessert Spoon and Fork: These can be placed either horizontally above the dinner plate (the spoon on top with its handle facing to the right; the fork below with its handle facing left); or beside the plate. If placed beside the plate, the fork goes on the left side, closest to the plate (because it will be the last fork used) and the spoon goes on the right side of the plate, to the right of the dinner knife and to the left of the soup spoon.

(j) Coffee Cup and Saucer: Our illustration shows a table setting that would be common in a restaurant serving a large number of people at once, with coffee being served during the meal. The coffee cup and saucer are placed above and to the right of the knife and spoons. At home, most people serve coffee after the meal. In that case the cups and saucers are brought to the table and placed above and to the right of the knives and spoons.

The Formal Place Setting

formal place setting

The placement of utensils is guided by the menu, the idea being that you use utensils in an “outside in” order. For the illustrated place setting here, the order of the menu is:

  • Appetizer: Shellfish
  • First Course: Soup or fruit
  • Fish Course
  • Entrée
  • Salad

(a) Service Plate: This large plate, also called a charger, serves as an underplate for the plate holding the first course, which will be brought to the table. When the first course is cleared, the service plate remains in place for any other courses, such as a soup course, until the plate holding the entrée is served, at which point the two plates are exchanged. The charger may serve as the underplate for several courses which precede the entrée.

(b) Butter Plate: The small butter plate is placed above the forks at the left of the place setting.

(c) Dinner Fork: The largest of the forks, also called the place fork, is placed on the left of the plate. Other smaller forks for other courses are arranged to the left or right of the dinner fork, according to when they will be used.

(d) Fish Fork: If there is a fish course, this small fork is placed to the left of the dinner fork because it is the first fork used.

(e) Salad Fork: If the salad is served after the entrée, the small salad fork is placed to the right of the dinner fork, next to the plate. If the salad is to be served first, and fish second, then the forks would be arranged (left to right): salad fork, fish fork, dinner fork.

(f) Dinner Knife: The large dinner knife is placed to the right of the dinner plate.

(g) Fish Knife: The specially shaped fish knife goes to the right of the dinner knife.

(h) Salad Knife (Note: there is no salad knife in the illustration): If used, according to the above menu, it would be placed to the left of the dinner knife, next to the dinner plate. If the salad is to be served first, and fish second, then the knives would be arranged (left to right): dinner knife, fish knife, salad knife.

(i) Soup Spoon or Fruit Spoon: If soup or fruit is served as a first course, then the accompanying spoon goes to the right of the knives.

(j) Oyster Fork: If shellfish are to be served, the oyster fork goes to the right of the spoons. Note: It is the only fork ever placed on the right of the plate.

(k) Butter Knife: The small spreader is paced diagonally on top of the butter plate, handle on the right and blade down.

(l) Glasses: These are placed on the right, above the knives and spoons. They can number up to five and are placed in the order they will be used. When there are more than three glasses, they can be arranged with smaller glasses in front. The water goblet (la) is placed directly above the knives. Just to the right are placed a red (lc) or white (ld) wine glass. A sherry glass or champagne flute (le), to accompany a first course or for an opening toast, go to the right of the wine glasses. Glasses used for a particular course are removed at the end of the course.

(m) Napkin: The napkin is placed on top of the charger (if one is used) or in the space for the plate. It can also go to the left of the forks, or under the forks if space is tight.

Buffet

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The buffet setting includes only the essentials. Typically there is no plate or charger placed on the table, as the plate is usually picked up at the buffet table for the guests to serve themselves. Alternatively, having no silverware on the table is common, as utensils are also commonly placed at the end of the buffet table line.

Center

  • Napkin – The napkin is folded and placed on top of the plate before service begins. Napkins can also be placed at the buffet table near the utensils.
  • Menu card – The menu card can either be placed on top of the napkin or inserted into the folds of the napkin for a more formal display.

Left-side

  • Salad fork – Salad is the second course that is served, so the salad fork is placed at the outer left edge of the table setting. The salad fork is usually smaller than the dinner fork.
  • Dinner fork – The dinner fork is placed to the immediate left of the charger or service plate. The dinner fork is typically the largest fork.

Right-side

  • Soup spoon – Soup is typically the first course so the soup spoon is placed on the outer right edge of the table setting.
  • Dinner knife – The dinner knife is placed to the immediate right of the service plate, corresponding with the placement of the dinner fork.

Top

  • Water glass – This glass is the largest of the glasses.
  • Wine glass – A single wine glass is all that’s needed for the buffet table setting.

Now that you’ve completed the guide, you are now ready to host your next event with confidence! Follow the table setting rules I’ve laid out in this guide, and use the place setting templates to ensure that you will provide your guests with the best experience.

Now that I have that out of way let’s keep this in mind table manners have evolved over centuries to make the practice of eating with others pleasant and sociable. With so many table manners to keep track, keep these basic, but oh-so-important, table manners in mind as you eat:

TOP TEN TABLE MANNERS

  1. Chew with your mouth closed.
  2. Keep your smartphone off the table and set to silent or vibrate. Wait to check calls and texts until you are finished with the meal and away from the table.
  3. Don’t use your utensils like a shovel or stab your food.
  4. Don’t pick your teeth at the table.
  5. Remember to use your napkin.
  6. Wait until you’re done chewing to sip or swallow a drink. (Choking is clearly an exception.)
  7. Cut only one piece of food at a time.
  8. Avoid slouching and don’t place your elbows on the table while eating (though it is okay to prop your elbows on the table while conversing between courses, and always has been, even in Emily’s day).
  9. Instead of reaching across the table for something, ask for it to be passed to you.
  10. Take part in the dinner conversation.

 

Enjoy,

Chef Edie M

Asian Style Chicken Lettuce Wraps

These Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps are one of my many favorite dinners.  Those who knows me and knows me well, I am always on the lookout for easy and fast dinners. This recipe is one that took me years of trial and error, and lots of fun taste-testing, to get it just right.  I’ve made a few versions in the past, but finally this is the best one because of its simplicity.  These Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps make the perfect easy dinner, but they’d also make an easy appetizer as well. I hope you love them as much as I do, enjoy!

chicken lettuce wraps

SUBSTITUTIONS | POTENTIAL 
Ground Chicken – finely diced chicken breasts are a great substitute for ground chicken
Peanut Oil – if you don’t have peanut oil or if anyone has a peanut allergy. Use Olive Oil or Avocado Oil
Soy Sauce – if you have a soy allergy you can substitute coconut amino(s) for the soy sauce
Peanut Butter – if you have a peanut (nuts) allergy; seed butter could work here

Let’s make this happen…

AsianChickLettWraps

Ingredients
¼ cup Hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 lb ground chicken
1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
4 scallions, whites and greens, chopped
1 large head of Japanese or Bibb Lettuce, leaves separated

 

 

Instructions
1. In a small bowl, combine the hoisin, soy sauce and ⅓ cup water.
2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and the chicken and cook, breaking up the chicken as it cooks, until browned, about 5 minutes.
3. Reduce the heat to medium and add the carrot and the remaining 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
4. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the garlic and the scallion whites and cook an additional minute.
5. Stir in the hoisin and continue to cook until the sauce thickens, another 1-2 minutes.

Be creative with your wraps!

 

Serve | Place some of the mixture in a lettuce leaf and top with some of the scallion greens.

Pear | Pinot Grigio: King Estate ‘Signature Collection’ Pinot Gris ~ $16 and/or Riesling: Red Tail Ridge Dry Riesling $17

Enjoy, Chef Edie M

The Death of a Sibling | Grieving

I am drowning in grief and experiencing emotional pain …shock, numbness, sadness, despair, loneliness, isolation, forgetfulness, anger, guilt, regret, depression, anxiety, crying, headaches, weakness, aches, pains, yearning, worry, frustration, detachment, isolation, questioning my faith…

When a person is estranged by a family member, they generally experience a range of immediate grief, loss and trauma responses. Responses such as crying and alongside emotional responses such as disbelief, denial and anger. People often ruminate over the estrangement event or the events that led up to the estrangement. Over time, most acute emotions and bodily responses seem to decrease in intensity, and generalized feelings of hurt, betrayal and disappointment might emerge. Even when the estrangement has continued for years or decades, many people suggest the pain persists or re-occurs at particular times. Some will call it “Triggers” which can sometimes cause a person to re-live and re-experience the initial grief, loss and trauma responses, while other times they can be managed.

…being estranged by a family member is one of the most painful events across the lifespan. I should know this and it is intensified by ten folds, its unexpectedness, its ambiguous nature, the powerlessness it creates, and social disapproval…

At first, when a person is estranged by another, they generally do not expect it to happen. Trauma is increased when it is enacted by humans rather than an act of nature and this is even more so when that human is a family member. We are biologically attached to family and socially acculturated into idea of family togetherness. We do not expect an estrangement nor do we?

Estrangement is ambiguous. It has lacks transparency, and it cannot be readily understood. It is not certain if the family member will ever return, so there is no finality or closure to the event. People who have been estranged by a loved one often describe feelings of incredible powerlessness. When someone has been cut off or like me I chose to be cut off; they cannot tell their side of the story nor ask questions or apologize. Without interaction the estranged person is often left wondering and ruminating about the truth, with no means of discovering it.

In the end, the pain of estrangement is often exacerbated because it is disenfranchised or poorly recognized by society. Many people who have been estranged feel an internalized guilt and shame about the situation, and this can affect the way that they interact socially. They might reduce or modify social interactions to avoid people finding out about their estrangement. This can be exacerbated by very real instances of social disapproval, misunderstanding and judgment, ranging from insensitive comments to actual exclusion from particular events.

If you have been through a personal loss you’ve probably experienced it firsthand. When your little sister, who was your bestie, is suddenly fighting you about everything, it can feel like your world is crumbling. Suddenly you’re trying to cope with the death and your support system is no longer supported, but a source of additional stress. You are grieving the death, while feeling like you are losing your family as well.

Let me be clear about one thing, what’s the number one source of conflict? Anyone want to take a guess? No, it’s not only money or material things! Its emotions and distance. As hard as it is for many of us to admit, countless families who never imagine there would be conflict over emotions are suddenly overwhelmed by disagreement and power struggles that are left behind, which leads to distance.

There are many other sources of strain and conflict that can also arise for families. There is no way I could cover them all here. There are many reasons that death can bring out the worst in people. But one important thing to know is that when we are under the stress and crisis of a death, our brains actually work differently. There are parts of our brain that think rationally and there are parts of our brain that think more on impulse and emotion (is it safe to say stupidly). When we are in a heightened state due to a death it is harder to think with that rational part of the brain. We default to using the emotional parts of our brains – parts of our brain that struggle with reasoning, memory, and long-term thinking.

Lost of LoveLosing and containing your control, one thing that is important to remember about death and grief is that it typically means a total loss of control. We all want so desperately to be able to control and change what has happened, but with death control is lost. This change, loss of control, and loss of stability can be terrifying. During this time certain family members will be seeking any way they can to regain a sense of control, and believe me it does happens to every family. This may take shape in immediately trying to plan the funeral without getting anyone else’s input, yep sad but true. It may mean immediately sorting through belongings or trying to take charge of finances. Understanding if desire for control is a factor in behavior can be important in how others in the family respond. Helping another family member to have a sense of control, while communicating how their actions are making others feel, can be helpful. If control seems to be a driving factor, other family members may be able to help guide this person’s energy into things that would be useful and that may cause less family strife.

missing you

I needed to take timeout and took a few steps. Grief makes us all do crazy, sometimes crappy, things that we often regret. It is important to cut people (and ourselves) some slack. People do all sorts of awful stuff when they grieve, so view these things as poor choices due to an impossible time in life. It doesn’t override the many years of wonderful things you know about the person. Try to remember that this may be the exception in their behavior, not the rule. Just like you need to be gentle and forgiving with yourself, you need to be gentle and forgiving with others. My search of mediation has helped me with my process of grieving and has helped me manage my inner conflicts because I could not do it on my own.

Carmen
My sister Carmen R.I.P. 07/04/17

Ethics | Relationships | Dating

Things I need to know. How many of you out there have had, or heard, horror stories from dating? Or, you may even be the one responsible for them! Yeah, I can’t believe I just said that ~ but it’s true!

I am asking you, because these past several weeks my personal life became unraveled because I lost control of my being. Lost control what I believe in….”dating” can be fun and yet it can have some hinder agendas’…

I, for one, am aghast at some of the things I encounter personally and know what’s out there: a date who spends the entire evening texting a friend; or a date that are, “Social Media Whores” who needs to reprise themselves constantly with a twice daily dose of selfies; and those dates who expects “payback” after three dinner dates; another who only calls at 3am – when they’re already outside your apartment; And of course, a million of those who don’t call when they say they would.

So, you all think you’re a decent person! Maybe and you probably are. So what about the people you dated? But if everyone is so good and ethical, where the hell do all these atrocities come from??!!! Why do generally good people treat their partners, however lengthy or temporary, with a completely different (or absent) set of ethical standards? Where are YOUR ethics when it comes to dating? I’m so confused!

My blog is meant to establish some bi-lateral standards of ethical dating, yes people Bi-lateral to include both men and women, in gay, straight or combination of relationships. Dating is a collaborative effort, and there should be a common set of standards within which we agree and operate. Would you do business with someone without signing terms and conditions? So why would you go out with someone without an agreement on ethical dating standards?

We all spend so much of our life dating, that it only makes sense for us to be more strategic about the process. All relationships go through that wonderful honeymoon phase, but what happens after good graces have faded? And it does! Many relationships may continue down that path of happiness and bliss, however, some couples’ bliss turns sour (worst than grapes) as they get to know each other on a more personal level. Trust me, been there!

Everyone has feelings!!! And everyone has hopes, dreams, ambitions, and passions. There is something deeper within all of us that totally begs for respect and honor no matter who we are. Being accountable for being honest with ourselves and one another about our contributions to both the problems and the solutions…it requires a deeper level of transparency . . . accountability starts with self, agreed?! . . .

Interacting through words and behaviors in a way that honors the other and respects difference, we are all human and respect is an honoring of the dignity and equality of all persons. It involves communicating with each other and behaving towards one another in ways that demonstrate the value of the other person.

We all have opinions, don’t we? I do, I believe there are dangerous warning signs of relationship issues such as having a hot tempered person can be admirable when they are is defending your honor, but a relationship with a person who has a short fuse can be dangerous. Abusive relationships are never worth staying in, however, unfortunately many women do not recognize – or ignore – the early warning signs in a relationship.

If your partner wants to know of your whereabouts at all times, their jealousy might be something in danger of spiraling out of control. It’s sweet when your partner is thinking about and wanting to be with you, however, it is unacceptable for your partner to expect you to punch a time clock all the time. Be wary of such possessive behavior, and don’t be afraid to ask others of their opinions. If your friends have not met your partner yet even though you’ve been dating for several months, this is another warning sign. Abusive relationships often start with a fair bit of antisocial behavior.

Can you figure out the “ending warning signs in your relationship”? I thought I did, but do you know sometimes, a warning sign you notice in a relationship has nothing to do with abuse or neediness, but rather quite the opposite as your significant other begins to “phase out” of the couple, wanting to move on to other things. While a lot of breakups are mutual and drama-free, there are some that get very ugly before reaching a conclusion. It happened to me not so long ago and it is important to show respect for each other when you are dating, however, when things get difficult, many couples forget this level of courtesy for one another.

Withdrawal and avoidance from activities you once enjoyed can be a first red flag. If your partner is simply unwilling to spend time with you like he once did, then you may begin to suspect he has either moved on or is seeing someone else. This can be a hurtful assumption, so be sure to have a basis for your accusation before making it, but know avoidance can definitely be the beginning of the end.

In general your partner do not want to spend a lot of time talking about their emotions, and when a relationship is turning sour, you will find they are making such a minimal effort it is as if they have already left. They may put off conversations or do their best to prevent them because in their minds they may already be planning a breakup.

If your partner is putting you down, this can be another sign of a waning relationship. Responding negatively toward you is a hurtful tactic sometimes used to push a significant other away when they are no longer wanted. It may, in your partner’s mind, be easier for your partner to hold you at a distance through causing the blame to fall on her/his shoulders than it is for her/him to outright say what she/he is feeling.

Many have difficulty expressing their feelings, and being cruel is one solution. Treating your passions as stupid, making fun of the way you look, or not allowing you to complete a thought out loud are just a few of the “put downs” that may take place if you are dating a disinterested person who no longer has any regard for your feelings.

Lastly, a couple may find that their biggest red flag in a relationship is due to a severe escalation in their amount of arguments. Suddenly they fight about anything and everything, making it difficult to function as a couple. Fortunately, most couples do not resort to verbal or physical abuse, but many breakups occur due to too much arguing. Couples drift, and this can cause their life ambitions to take off on divided paths, forcing them to leave a once valuable relationship behind. If your partner is being argumentative, try your best to open up the lines of communication. However, be prepared for a potentially disappointing response.

Warning signs in relationships are not always obvious, but when it is time for something to end, you will probably know it. Unfortunately many women act as if they do not know until things have escalated to such a point that leaving is a much more emotionally painful experience than what was probably necessary.

My advice to you, you have value and love to give, and it is a shame to waste it on someone who is just going to throw it away. Never stay in an abusive situation, regardless. Your life is too valuable, and somewhere out there is a decent person for you who will treat you right.

Keeping Love and Passion Alive. Just saying! Tell her you love her and tell her she’s beautiful and buy her flowers (you don’t need a special occasion) surprise her! Take her out on a date and it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money! Cook for her; make it a romantic dinner, complete with candles, flowers and a nice bottle of wine. Have interests of your own!!! That’s right people! Don’t get it twisted but keep it real and do make time for her. Encourage her to follow her heart’s desire; do find a common hobby or interest. Listen with your ears and your heart. Let her know you’re paying attention. And by all means, ask her what she would like to make your relationship better. Be open to what she has to say. Follow up your words with actions, important!!! Give her space (we all need to it); and finally people, please communicate, listen with respect. Repeat what you heard her say. Validate her points. Validate her.

Chef EdieM

Puerto Rican Pasteles

Pasteles have a long history, but they are still extremely popular in modern-day Latin American cuisine. They are very common at festivals, family gatherings and parties. This is a very labor-intensive dish; the very same reason why most people buy their “pasteles” from someone who has the experience and the patience to make these, like myself. Puerto Rican pasteles are much more labor intensive than any other due to the masa mixture which consists of a combination of grated green banana, green plantain, taro, and calabazas (tropical pumpkins), and is seasoned with liquid from the meat mixture, milk, and annatto oil (annatto seeds infused with olive oil). The meat is prepared as a stew and usually contains the combination of pork shoulder, potatoes, chickpeas, olives, and capers seasoned with bay leaves, recaito, tomato sauce, sofrito, fresh garlic, and annatto oil. The pork shoulder can also be replaced with chicken.

Assembling a typical pasteles involves a large sheet of parchment paper, a strip of banana leaf that has been heated over an open flame to make it supple, and a little annatto oil on the leaf. The masa (dough) is then placed on banana leaf and stuffed with meat mixture. The paper is then folded and tied with kitchen string to form packets.

Once made, pasteles can either be cooked in boiling water or frozen for later use. Because they are so labor intensive, large Puerto Rican families often make anywhere from 50-200 or more at a time, especially around the months of November throughout January, “the holiday seasons”. They are usually served with rice and pigeon peas (arroz con gandules), roasted pork, and other holiday foods on the side.

Let’s make this happen…

Masa:
12 green bananas
4 plantains
2-3 lbs. yucca
1-2 lbs. white yautía
1 large calabazas
¾ cups milk
1 ½ tsp. salt
2 tbs sofrito
2 tbs annatto oil

Filling:
3-4 lbs. of shoulder pork, skinned and diced into small tiny pieces
3 small Idaho potato, diced into small pieces
1 ½ cup cooked chickpeas or garbanzo beans
½ cup sliced Spanish stuffed olives
½ cup of sofrito
3-4 bay leaves
2 cans of tomato sauce
1 tbs olive oil
Salt and pepper

2 batches of parchment paper to roll pastels
Banana leaves – cut into rectangles of 10” x 8” approximately
Cotton kitchen soft twine (pasteles string)

Let’s make this happen…

Masa…

1. Peel all vegetables, diced into small pieces and shred them using a food processor or the old fashion way you can use a hand grated (which will take you all night).
2. Add the sofrito, salt, annatto oil and milk to the masa mixture. Mix it all well to create a homogenous smooth mixture. The annatto oil will provide a bright orange color to the mixture.
3. Add salt to taste, or Sazon Goya con cilantro y achiote, Sazon Goya con ajo y cebolla (Goya seasonings).

Filling…
1. In large stew pot fill half-way with water; add salt and add pork. Bring to boil, reduce heat and cook for an hour.
2. Rise to medium heat, add the rest of ingredients and cook for another ½ hour.
3. Once everything is cooked, add the olives.

Assembling…
1. Place a piece of banana leaf on top of the parchment paper (it’s similar to butcher’s paper).
2. Take a little bit of the sauce of the mixture and wet the banana leaf.
3. Take a large spoonful of masa in the center of the banana leaf. Using the spoon, form a well in the center of the mixture;
4. Place about 2 tablespoons of the mixture in the well. Carefully fold the leaf over, in order to cover the filling with masa on all sides.
5. Fold the paper like a letter and fold in the sides to create a compact package. Set aside and continue making/packing them. Repeat this procedure until all the masa mixture has been used. You can now freeze or cook them when you are ready.

Let’s tie them…
1. Take two packs placing them on top of each other (facing two large ends together) and start binding them together with cooking string. Don’t tie to tight (during cooking they will expand).

Cooking

1. In a large pot of water add 2-3 doubles sets of pasteles into water; bring to boil for about 45 minutes or until the masa is cooked; (if pasteles are frozen, place them directly from the freezer onto the boiling water and boil for about 1 hour).
2. Drain them well when you take them out of the water (place them onto a plate and let sit for a minute or two) cut sting and unwrap.
3. Serve over rice, side with pork and salad or just enjoy alone.

BTW: Pasteles can stay in the freezer for up to three months if well sealed and wrapped!!

Enjoy!

Sweet Braided Loaves

“This recipe was handed down from my grandmother to my mother; my mother had told me stories that her mother made Sweet Braided Loaves during the winter months into early spring, because of cost efficiency and the loaves would last for days on. The Sweet Braided Loaves would be served with soups and stews. Back in the 50’s and 60’s living in “alphabet city”, known in Manhattan, NY that Sweet Braided Loaves were the common bread served with any dish. Throughout the years I made it for my son during the Easter Holiday changing the recipe from time to time.”

Read more: https://chefediem.wordpress.com

Ingredients:

1 PACKAGE ACTIVE DRY YEAST

1/4 CUP WARM WATER

1 CUP WARM 2% MILK

1/2 CUP SUGAR

1/2 CUP BUTTER, SOFTENED

3 EGGS, ROOM TEMPERATURE

1/2 TEASPOON SALT

5 1/2 CUPS ALL PURPOSE FLOUR

1 CUP GOLDEN RAISINS

Garnish:  2 Tablespoon sliced Almonds, 1 egg, lightly beaten

Let’s make this happen…

  1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the milk, sugar, butter, eggs, salt and 3 cups flour; beat until smooth.  Stir in enough remaining flour to form soft an dough.  Stir in raisins.
  2. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes.  Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
  3. Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide dough into six portions.  Shape each into a 12-in. rope. Place three ropes on a greased baking sheet and braid; pinch ends to seal and tuck under.  Repeat with remaining ropes. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
  4. Brush with egg; sprinkle with almonds. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool on wire racks.
  5. Yield: 2 loaves (12 slices each).

Enjoy!

Sweet Bread

Chef EdieM

My Life in Boxes

AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND MEMOIRS OF CHEF EDIE M 11-18-87

These are series of short stories of my life, before and after my AVM surgery and recovery. Stories, from what I could remember for many years from notes to letters to myself; written on old Christmas wrapping paper used as scrap paper; paper towels, napkins and I even wrote on my clothing. I was strongly advised to write things down so I won’t forget. I’ve written notes during pre-op and post-op, part of my life story over twenty-eight years’ worth.  Silently I had put my life away in boxes for years, I never read nor looked at any my notes. I couldn’t, not until now.  old script

I am a mother, a sister, an aunt, a lover, an activist – violence against children. I am a woman who adores life, who loves to cooks and going on cooking auditions, always intrigued with the unknown, enjoys writing, have a passion for the arts, and helping those less unfortunate as much as possible. I had endured sexual abuse since the age five and it continued into my mid to late teens. I can be raw at times, however still keeping it real.  I have a serious cleaning disorder, I brush my teeth in the shower, I swear, I spit like man and I dislike rude people. I am not different than the average person, so what makes me stand out from the rest of the population, I am a survivor of a right temporal Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM) on my cerebellum. I had a Craniotomy 27 years ago.

 

PART 1:  The AVM

During my pregnancy and going on my third trimester my AVM became full blown during an outing at a public art show in Manhattan, NY. My surgery took place at New York Presbyterian/Columbia. During my “AVM recovery” I had to learn to live all over again-literately!!! I had an abnormal tangle of blood vessels in the brain that can cause devastating effects and it began to bleed. Most likely the AVM had existed in my brain for many years, perhaps for most of my life. I was fortunate to have received superb health care from doctors at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia and from Dr. Robert A. Solomon, Clinic neurosurgeon affiliated with The New York-Presbyterian/Columbia – Neurological Surgery and University Hospital.

In the late summer of 1987 the AVM in my brain began to bleed, causing symptoms for the first time. I began experiencing headaches that, in retrospect, were more severe than ordinary headaches. I had a pounding sensation in the right side of head. I went to my doctor, and he thought I had a cold. I slept allot because I couldn’t take muscle relaxants for the pain due to my pregnancy, but it got worse.

Then, mid-September of 1987, Sunday; the internal bleeding increased and my symptoms escalated. “It was Art Show day, which I was really looking forward to. “I woke up with my head hurting really badly. As usually, my pregnancy didn’t allow me to take any medication only Tylenol; I drove myself into the city and while driving into the Holland Tunnel my head was pounding. I threw up in the car. I managed to clean up and parked the car in the village. Avoiding being negative, I remember saying to myself, “it’s the pregnancy don’t panic”. I met up with my friends, we walked for an hour, I drank allot of water because of the heat, then suddenly I felt really sick, I thought if I ate something it would go away. But it didn’t. While I was walking back to the vehicle I felt a pop on my right side than a burst of bright tiny dots appeared, than total silent was creeping on me. I decide to go home and rest. The following day, I called out sick from work, called my doctor explained all that transpired, I was advised to go to the emergency at a New Jersey Hospital. The hospital physicians ordered an MRI, which revealed that I was experiencing serious bleeding in the brain. The AVM, only one to two centimeters in diameter, was large enough to be life-threatening. I was then advised to abort my pregnancy and immediately needed to have surgery. Being confused scared and without knowledge of the AVM I immediately contacted a reliable sort, my sister–in-law, Marion Marin who strongly suggested New York-Presbyterian/Columbia.Immediately, calls were made and within days I was transferred to New York-Presbyterian/Columbia.

Doctors at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia stabilized me but decided that surgery on the AVM should be postponed after the cesarean section delivery. The risk of coma or death as a complication of surgery is much higher of brain the team wisely chose not to operate immediately after the hemorrhage occurred.

After spending three weeks in the hospital, I was able to go home. My doctor told me he was handing my case over to Dr. Solomon, a neurosurgeon who eventually would perform my surgery. I left with warm memories of New York-Presbyterian/Columbia.

I faced difficult adjustments in my day-to-day life. It was critical that no sudden movement cause the AVM to begin bleeding again. “When I was released from the hospital, they gave me information about what I could and couldn’t do,” “I wasn’t allowed to do anything that would cause my brain to be active. I couldn’t lift, couldn’t paint, or work out. It was torture. It was horrible.

On November 18, 1987, I was ready for surgery. Dr. Solomon, who directs the endovascular neurosurgery program at the New York-Presbyterian/Columbia, operated on me. Then, over a period of nine prolonged and difficult hours Dr. Solomon performed a Craniotomy procedure to remove the malformation.

Dr. Solomon told me that I wouldn’t have to worry about the AVM for now and that I should know since I already had suffered an AVM that I may suffer another in my lifetime, regardless the outcome. When I left the hospital it was kind of a shock; I was out in the real world where everyone wasn’t as nice. During this period I was working with a major trading firm down by the World Trade Center area and I lost my job after the surgery.

I personally felt left to battle the demons of the world by myself; my life as I knew it turned upside down. I was seen differently by people; couldn’t work and constantly being discriminated because of my seizures episodes caused by the surgery; memory loss, rudeness was the new for me! Rejections, loss of friends, and sadly some family members turned away from me because they could deal with me. I lost my faith and questioned it many times. I suffered serious disability- loss of memory, I had to learn to read and write; almost instantly become a single parent and surrounded by domestic abuse didn’t help; and finally I moved hundreds of miles away to fix my untamed life.

I learned over the years of recovery that it was up to me to grow, adapt to new beginnings and be able to look out of the box. Which I did, years later I briefly studied Paralegal while working for a law firm; I worked for the Government | Army and then decided to become a Surgical Technician. In the next few weeks will be taking my state board exam for my license and I will continue my education, enjoying my family and friends, cooking, writing, volunteering and eyeing a possible future in the field of nutrition, health. “I am so blessed to have my life back after 27 years.” life is good again not perfect but good!

Chef EdieM

cursive-script-handwritten-letters
Old Scripts Letters

Ensalada de Bacalao | Cod Fish Salad with Mojito

Puerto Rican Codfish Salad | Ensalada de Bacalao

Ensalada de Bacalao (Codfish Salad)

Ingredients
2 lbs, dry/salted bacalao, desalted
4 white potatoes, boiled and cubed
1 large red onion, peeled and sliced into rings
3 tomatoes, sliced
½ green bell pepper, thinly sliced
½ red bell pepper, thinly sliced
3 hard boiled eggs, shelled cooled and sliced
4 Fresh garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 avocados, sliced
1 small jar of red pimientos, sliced
½ cup Spanish olives ½ cup olive oil 1 tbsp of white vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Let’s make this happen…

  1. Rinse codfish under warm running water to rinse off excess salt. Then add to a pot of boiling water, let it boil for about ½ hour. Drain the water, add fresh water and boil again for 20 minutes. Drain and let it cool.
  2. Shred or pull apart into bite size pieces using your fingers. Set aside to let drain and cool again.
  3. Clean, peel and dice potatoes into large cubes. Boil the potatoes for only 20 minutes. Let potatoes, sit and cool.
  4. Boil the eggs.
  5. Place the fish in the salad bowl as the first layer. Add the other ingredients except for the olive oil, vinegar & hard boiled eggs. Make other layers with the codfish and all the ingredients until all is used up., salt, and pepper. Combine vinegar & olive and drizzle over the salad. Gently toss until all ingredients are well coated with the dressing. Add sliced boiled eggs, & garnish with red pimientos.

Serves 6

Pairing: Ice Cold Mojito

Mojito Ingredients: Original recipe makes 1 cocktail Change Servings

10 Fresh mint leaves

½ Lime cut into 4 wedges

2 tablespoons white sugar, or to taste

1 cup ice cubes

1 ½ Ounces White Bacardi Rum

1/2 cup Club Soda

Let’s make this happen…

  1. Place mint leaves and 1 lime wedge into a sturdy glass. Use a muddler to crush the mint and lime to release the mint oils and lime juice.
  2. Add 2 more lime wedges and the sugar, and muddle again to release the lime juice. Do not strain the mixture.
  3. Fill the glass almost to the top with ice.
  4. Pour the rum over the ice, and fill the glass with carbonated water. Stir, taste, and add more sugar if desired.
  5. Garnish with the remaining lime wedge.

Note: If you’re going to muddle the mint leaves in the glass, add a little sugar to it too. The sugar is an abrasive and will grind up the leaves very well

Mojito Drinks

 

 

Enjoy Chef EdieM

Coconut Flan (Flan de Coco)

Let’s make this happen….

• ¾ cup white sugar
• 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
• 1 (12 fluid ounce) can coconut milk (Goya)
• 8 eggs
• 1/2 cup fresh shredded coconut
• 4 oz Philadelphia original cream cheese

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Place 1 cup of the sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook gently, without stirring, but shaking occasionally until the sugar has melted. Continue cooking until the sugar has completely melted and turned golden brown; then add 2 tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk. Pour into a large, glass baking dish. Spread the caramel evenly over the bottom of the dish, then set aside to cool for 15 minutes before proceeding.

3. Once the caramel has hardened, shred coconut over caramel.

4. Pour the condensed milk, coconut milk, cream cheese and eggs into a blender. Blend for 3-5 minutes until smooth. Pour into baking dish over the caramel.

5. Pour 2 cups of cold water into larger deep baking pan, then place glass baking dish into the larger baking pan. You want to prevent the burning of the caramel and helps keeps the flan from sinking. Bake in preheated oven for 45-60 minutes or until set. When done, remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the dish to separate the flan from the sides. Refrigerate overnight. Place flat dish over baking pan, flip and enjoy!

Puerto Rican Rice & Pigeon Peas | Arroz Con Gandules

YellowRicewithPigeonPeas
Arroz con Gandules

Rice and beans are a delicious staple in Latino community. If you have ever tasted Spanish rice and enjoyed it, than you will love this recipe. It’s a simple recipe that the whole family will enjoy. Make this flavorful dish at home with these easy steps.

Ingredients

1 medium chopped onion
½ cup sofrito
1 small can tomato sauce
1 medium can pigeon peas
1 tablespoon Manzanillo olives
1 teaspoon capers
1 cup of chicken broth
EVOL (extra virgin olive oil)
4 cups of extra long grain white rice
** 2 for 1 (2 cups of water for each cup of rice)
Garlic powder |salt |pepper to taste

Let’s make this happen:
1. In a saucepan add a bit of EVOL let heat.
2. Stir fry onions till tender.
3. Add sofrito for about 2 to 3 minutes.
4. Add tomato sauce, rinse and drain beans, the raw rice and chicken broth and stir well.
5. Add enough water to cover the rice, (2 for 1) or about 1 1/2 inch above rice line.
6. Let boil (uncovered) on medium high heat until water evaporates.
7. Lower heat to low and cover with aluminum foil and cook for about 35 to 45 minutes. Serve.

Tip: Using a sheet of aluminum foil to cover your rice pot before putting on the lid helps & is a secret so all the rice cooks quickly.

Serving Per Recipe: 6-8
Enjoy!
Chef EdieM

Philippine Festival | Jersey City, NJ

The Philippine Festival Saturday, September 25, 2014 – 11am to 6pm down Newark Avenue in Historic Downtown Jersey City! http://jcdowntown.org/

A festival is usually an event ordinarily staged by a community, centering on and celebrating some unique aspect of that community and its traditions, festivals often serve to meet specific purposes, especially in regard to commemoration. Festivals that focus on cultural or specifically ethnic topics also seek to inform members of their traditions and the involvement of community elders sharing stories and experience provides a means for unity among families.
Food is so vital to many festivals that often highlight the output of producers from a certain region. I spent my Saturday by eating, walking and celebrating Jersey City’s own Philippine Festival which was in the heart of downtown. It had all the traditional food, dancing, martial art demonstrations, kids’ activities, craft vendors and more!
Hundreds of people had attended this year’s Philippine Festival to see the many vendors, shops, art and music; it was FUN FOR THE ENTIRE FAMILY!

OH MY VINTAGE, Kimvee owner

Snatch up vintage threads from OH MY VINTAGE, Kimvee owner. Kimvee offers a wide variety of unique vintage clothing, jewelry and accessories.

http://omvintage.etsy.com http://www.ohmyvintage.com http://ohmyvintage.blogspot.com http://twitter.com/ohmyvintage

OH MY VINTAGE, Kimvee owner

OH MY VINTAGE has extensive collection of vintage goodies that are hand selected, affordable and will go well with anything in your wardrobe.

 

 

Cool down with home-made Buon Antipasto by Frank and Ira (originally from the Bronx).  BuonAntipasto@aol.com or on Facebook: BuonAntipasto  Buon Antipasto by Frank and Ira

 
Chow down some homemade “Pulled Chicken Adobo” by Manila Girl for only $5  Facebook.com/manilagirlnycwww.manilagirlinc.com   @manilagirlinc #manilagirlnyc   Facebook.com/manilagirlnyc

 

 

 

 

Downtown Jersey City had a many events going on that day and unfortunately I could not attend all of them by the two I did was extremely enjoyable.

Philippine Festival, Downtown Jersey City, NJ 1734 1735 1736 1737 1738

 

Enjoy

Chef EdieM

 

 

 

 

How to Help the Homeless This Holiday Season

Give back to your community this holiday season by taking the time to help people in need Contact local homeless shelters, food banks and soup kitchens to find out what they need most.  Helpful tips and using caution.

  • Help a homeless family transition from a shelter to their own apartment by giving them pots and pans and other everyday necessities that they’ll need to get started.
  • Hire a homeless person to help you with chores around your house. Ask a shelter to recommend someone who is willing to work for pay.
  • Volunteer your time to read or play with children living at a shelter.

Important Steps:

  • Provide warm coats, blankets and clothes for people in need.
  • Purchase gifts made by residents in a shelter so they’ll receive the proceeds.
  • Help wrap gifts that have been donated to the shelter so residents can have the fun of unwrapping a holiday surprise.
  • Buy canned goods and other nonperishable items and deliver them to a soup kitchen or food bank.
  • Teach a homeless person new skills to help him or her get a job.
  • Purchase nonprescription medicines such as allergy and cold pills, adhesive bandages and aspirin for residents.
  • Donate paper goods such as toilet paper and paper towels to the shelter.
  • Help shelter residents get into the holiday spirit by providing a Christmas tree, menorah and other decorations to liven up the place.
  • Bring cookies and punch to a shelter for an impromptu holiday party.
  • Hand out food vouchers to people on the street so they can get something to eat.
  • Order an extra meal to go when you eat out, or bring your leftovers home, and offer the food to someone hungry who is living on the street.

Deadlines are Approaching.  

Thank you and warm wishes to everyone,

Chef EdieM

Christmas

Halloween | Fun Party Pops

Halloween

is a holiday celebrated on the night of October 31. The word Halloween is a shortening of All Hallows’ Evening also known as Hallowe’en or All Hallows’ Eve.

HalloweenTraditional activities include trick-or-treating, bonfires, costume parties, visiting “haunted houses” and carving jack-o-lanterns. Irish and Scottish immigrants carried versions of the tradition to North America in the nineteenth century. Other western countries embraced the holiday in the late twentieth century including Ireland, the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom as well as of Australia and New Zealand.

Halloween has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain (pronounced “sah-win”). The festival of Samhain is a celebration of the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture. Samhain was a time used by the ancient pagans to take stock of supplies and prepare for winter. The ancient Gaels believed that on October 31, the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped and the deceased would come back to life and cause havoc such as sickness or damaged crops.

The festival would frequently involve bonfires. It is believed that the fires attracted insects to the area which attracted bats to the area. These are additional attributes of the history of Halloween.

Masks and costumes were worn in an attempt to mimic the evil spirits or appease them.

Halloween

 

Halloween is one of my favorite fun past time, prep is super fun when you invite your little goblins to help decorate adorable cookies on sticks.

Halloween Fun Party Pops

What’s needed:

Ingredients
Cookies
1 roll Pillsbury refrigerated sugar cookies
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
16 flat wooden sticks with round ends

White Frosting
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon butter or margarine, softened

Chocolate Frosting
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened baking cocoa
1 to 2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon butter or margarine, softened
A of assorted candies (gumdrops, candy corn and licorice)

Let’s make this happen…

1. In a large bowl, break up cookie dough. Stir or knead in flour until well blended. Reshape into log; wrap in plastic wrap. Freeze cookie dough 1 hour.
2. Heat oven to 350°F. Cut frozen dough into 16 (1/2-inch) slices; roll each into ball. On ungreased cookie sheets, arrange balls in circle, 3 inches apart and 2 inches from edges. Securely insert a stick into each ball with end pointing toward center of cookie sheet.
3. Bake 10 to 14 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.
4. In small bowl, stir white frosting ingredients until smooth. If necessary, add additional milk 1 drop at a time for desired consistency.
5. In another small bowl, stir together all chocolate frosting ingredients except assorted candies until smooth. If necessary, add additional milk 1 drop at a time for desired consistency.
6. Frost half of cookies with white frosting; frost remaining cookies with chocolate frosting. Arrange candies on frosted cookies to create jack-o’-lanterns, cats, owls or ghosts.

• In a large bowl, break up cookie dough. Stir or knead in flour until well blended. Reshape into log; wrap in plastic wrap. Freeze cookie dough 1 hour.
• Heat oven to 350°F. Cut frozen dough into 16 (1/2-inch) slices; roll each into ball. On ungreased cookie sheets, arrange balls in circle, 3 inches apart and 2 inches from edges. Securely insert a stick into each ball with end pointing toward center of cookie sheet.
• Bake 10 to 14 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.
• In small bowl, stir white frosting ingredients until smooth. If necessary, add additional milk 1 drop at a time for desired consistency.
• In another small bowl, stir together all chocolate frosting ingredients except assorted candies until smooth. If necessary, add additional milk 1 drop at a time for desired consistency.
• Frost half of cookies with white frosting; frost remaining cookies with chocolate frosting. Arrange candies on frosted cookies to create jack-o’-lanterns, cats, owls or ghosts.
Note:  To make Black Cat Cookie Pops, for each cookie, slice a large black gumdrop into 3 round pieces. Use small end for head; use largest piece for body. Cut ears and tail from third piece. Frost cookie with orange frosting. Arrange gumdrop pieces on frosted cookie to form cat.

Happy Halloween!

Enjoy Chef EdieM

Garlic Dipping Sauce | Mojito

This Garlic Dipping Sauce | Mojito is the recommended garlic dipping sauce to serve with tostones (twice fried green plantains) or aranita (shredded green plantain fritters). You can make the Mojito in advance, up to about 3 days, and keep it in the refrigerator. Bring it to room temperature about an hour before serving. Garlic

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients

1 cup olive oil, warmed

1 whole head of garlic peeled, crushed and finely chopped

1 small onion, finely diced

3 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped

Juice of 1 lemon

Juice of 1 lime

Salt to taste

 

Let’s make this happen…

  1. Blend all the ingredients together in a nonreactive bowl. (A nonreactive bowl is one made of material that does not react chemically to the citrus acids.)
  2. In a small saucepan, heat oil over medium heat 2-1/2 to 3 minutes or until a thermometer reads 200°. Carefully add onion; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in garlic; remove from heat.
  3. Transfer mixture to a medium mixing bowl.
  4. Cool for about 20 minutes.
  5. When room temperature, add zest and juice of limes and lemon.
  6. Mix until well combined.
  7. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until serving.

Tip: Use a blender or food processor to mix the ingredients.

 

Enjoy Chef EdieM

Restaurant Review – Europa South

Europa South | Corner of 35 South, Point Pleasant Beach, NJ 08742

I cannot understand why this restaurant has 4 stars, when clearly it’s very underwhelming. I have to say after many meals at Newark restaurants the sangria at Europa South was watery lacking in taste. I have had many dinners at Iberia in Newark and the Barge in Perth Amboy and the paella at Europa South pales in comparison.  Plus at the Newark restaurants you are greeted with a salad as part of the meal. Europa South is a solid choice on the shore for this type of interpretive Spanish/Portuguese food but by no means the real deal.  Shadowy with all the original dark wood accents, chairs, tables and lamps, Europa South is that traditional, restaurant with a menu walking the fine line between Spanish/Portuguese dishes but at times not so successfully.

how-to-respond-to-a-bad-reviewDuring my Labor Day Weekend, I and several friends arrived at Europa South around 9:30ish on a Saturday.  We met up with another friend and her date; they were having the garlic shrimp appetizers. The shrimps were very small and slightly overcooked, but had good flavor, not great.

As we waited at the bar I noticed there were about four empty tables and not a waitress, hostess nor management was insight to greet us or suggest any seating accommodations to us.

However, I did noticed the available two empty bar stools next to where my friends were sitting. I was told by the bartender, “the customer sitting there was outside smoking”, I waiting for 15 minutes than decided to sit down until his return. I was entertaining myself with the live performance; my friends placed their drink orders. The bartender “RFB” (Rude Frustrated Bartender) was not attentive at the main bar and every time when one of my friends ordered a drink and walk away to dance the “RFB” would approach me with her slow, spacey voice, yelling why the tab wasn’t paid before their departure onto the dance floor. Really!

Completely unprofessional and not to mention just plain rude; as I was trying to explain to her, everyone was dancing she turned her back on me and walked off. At one point the “RFB” went off the charts and basically ignored anything that was said to her. I motioned with my hands as to say “so what are you doing?” and much to my surprise, she made the same motion back to me! Unbelivable! My friend put the “RFB” on check, “did you forget that you have my credit card and running a tab”. Awkward!!

Closing time: Half hour prior our departure my girlfriend’s boyfriend orders a round of coffee and Flan for the group. Talk about being nasty, the “RFB” began hammering me and forgetting her place in bartending, heard my comment, “…well the Flan is good…service sucks”, mangling the drink glasses, the “RFB” stated, “I was never given any indication that anyone was in any way displeased with my performance.”

“After those scathing comments, and speaking with the night manager regarding how we were being treated by his “RFB”, he clearly stated he was standing by her, when I asked about the incident, his responds was he could not comment. At that point I figured it was time to exit.

For her part, the “RFB” feels that both her comments and conduct were justified in her actions.  “Despite the fact that I said, “You should get a real job” was sort of ‘friendly and attentive,’ of me to say such was ‘well executed,’

My Final thoughts: Now, naming names is obviously not all that uncommon for a restaurant review, good or bad. What makes this situation odd is the rarity of not naming names, I could have placed both their names onto my website, but that will possibly preclude further work in the service industry. “With her slow, spacey voice, she seemed to forget her primary objective was to serve customers quickly and with respect.”

The staff is obviously immature and apparently hasn’t had any “customer service” training. This place has the most unfriendly bartenders and management of any kind. They never smile never carry on a conversation at all.

They will come around and take the chair from you and tell you that you can’t sit here because, “the person sitting there is outside taking a cigarette break for 20 minutes and I need to wait”.  They would rather have the underage college kids walking up and buying beers and not leaving a tip than to have adults who tip sit at the bar.

New staff needed badly!!!!!   You have a nice place with a decent menu but you need to hire some mature, conscientious, customer oriented staff or at the very least, tell the current staff that they are being paid to “serve” the customer which includes timeliness and respect.  The service was absolutely disappointing. The waiters had extremely good mood…so good that they were dancing, they were yelling each other and they generally made fuss annoying the customers. In addition they could hardly notice us when we wanted something (water, more drinks, the bill etc.).

My friends spend several hundreds of dollars within 2.5 hours but the price is not comparable to the food and service – too much money for poor service. In conclusion the whole experience was not good, a first for me “Nightmare”  I would never go again to this place for any reason and I don’t recommend this restaurant, not even to my worst enemy. OK, so it’s not Newark, head to the Ironbound for the real thing… It’s a haul but well worth it.

badreview

Chef Edie M

Life and Sorrows

Sorrow

“There are things that we don’t want to happen but have to accept, things we don’t want to know but have to learn, and people we can’t live without but have to let go.”

 

LIFE AND SORROW

If future generations are to remember us more with gratitude than sorrow, we must achieve more than just the miracles of technology. We must also leave them a glimpse of the world as it was created, not just as it looked when we got through with it.  Lyndon B. Johnson

“Your dexterous wit will haunt us long, wounding our grief with yesterday, your laughter is a broken song; and death has found you, kind and gay. We may forget those transient things, that made your charm and our delight, but loyal love has deathless wings, that rise and triumph out of the night. So, in the days to come, your name shall be as music that ascends, when honor turns a heart from shame…O heart of hearts! O friends of friends!”  Siegfried Sassoon

 
Pain
Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like. So, with each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it, can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us. Let’s not be afraid to receive each day’s surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy it will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity.  Anonymous

Sorrow
Sorrow

 Chef EdieM

Essence | Life | You

Time Clocks 

Time | We only have so many hours in a day, days in a week, and so on. Once they’re gone, there is simply no way to get them back. Scary isn’t it. So we schedule and plan according to time. We make appointments and arrangements. We calculate travel time, meeting time, mealtime, bed time and wake up time. We use a schedule because the last thing we want to do is waste time. We even try to schedule some down time and vacation time.

What does all this scheduling say about the value of time? Well let’s see we even buy it and sell it as if it was the same as any other commodity, but it’s not. We can change how we use it and who we spend it with, but once we run out there is no way to get more. So we use our clocks and our watches to keep track of this precious and limited commodity. On the surface, it all seems very reasonable, especially from a productivity standpoint. However, the trouble is, time is more than productivity. Time is not just something we exchange for money and I think it is absolutely vital that we fully comprehend that.

Time is the essence of life | There are plenty of things you can get by without, but time is not one of them. You can live at a week without food and maybe days without water. But you cannot live for one second without time, and that’s the true no matter who you are or where you are.  No amount of influence, power or money can change the fact that, when your time is up, you are done.

Time is not limited to the productive side of life because everything in life requires some of our precious time. Relationships are built from time. Every experience represents a certain amount of time. Amazingly, we spend about a third of our total time allotment sleeping. Our humanity is all about how we spend our time.

Is time management according to the clock beneficial to our quality of life or does it have an adverse effect? These are great questions to ponder because we have all been convinced that the clock is our friend, even though it doesn’t always seem that way. It is true that the most financially productive people on the planet are generally strong proponents of time management. The results they produce seem to speak for themselves, don’t they?

What about all the other aspects of their lives? Things like their family life, recreational activities, health and fitness levels, and sense of enjoyment and satisfaction. Well, for the most part we don’t know about those things. We just know that they have made a lot of money. 

So obviously, time management has its place in a balanced life.  We would never want to assume that being financially successful means neglecting other important areas of life. Many times, the exact opposite is true. The skills that lead to a successful mindset can be applied across the board. A truly successful life includes all those other aspects.

I think it is healthy to allow room in our lives for a more casual view of time. We all have natural rhythms and cycles, and living by the clock can cause us to lose touch with this part of life.

  • Is it better to eat when we are hungry or when the clock says it’s time?  Sure, we can condition ourselves to be hungry at certain times, but is that really the healthiest way to live?
  • Do we know how much sleep is actually best for us personally, or does the clock control our sleeping patterns?  Eight hours may work for the majority, but what does that have to do with your needs as an individual?

Summer has more hours of daylight and this affects everything around us; it is a time of increased activity. The amount of daylight has an undeniable influence on the natural world.

Is it practical to think that we can completely break free of the clock and let nature take over? Probably not, but is there something we can do to get more in touch with our place in the natural rhythm of life? If you can make room for it, why not try this. One day a week try to avoid letting the clock run your life. On that day, don’t set the alarm or wear a watch, and don’t make a schedule. Wake up when you feel like it, eat when you get hungry, and let your day unfold at its own pace.

Try to spend extra time in meaningful conversation and contemplation. Avoid the temptation to crowd your day with activities. Instead, relax and let go. The rhythm of life will make itself felt if you choose to allow it.

Essence | Life | You
Essence | Life | You

Who are you
Although I’m trying really hard to resist, but who are you?

No, it’s not a trick question and I am not asking you for a date nor your marital status, or you life history.  “I don’t give a shit about the trick question,” because it’s not the whole truth.   People, I’m asking how well you actually know yourself as a person. In other words, who are you underneath all the trappings and titles, make-up, life’s mask?

Who Are You
Who Are You

“Ok”, now I have your attention. What do you see when you look at your very inner core?

Why most people are not in touch with their true self and some are? From a very young age we are asked: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I think the true question and emphasis should be more on “WHO” you want to be when you grow up. Come on, people am I right or what?

How can we align our life with our true self if we don’t really know who we are?   How can we harmonize our environment with our deepest values and passions if we have never discovered our innermost true self?  Our ability to find meaning and purpose in this journey we call life hinges on how well we actually know ourselves. Discovering our true self can open the door to a life that feel fulfilling and exciting.

Discover yourself

  • Values, these are the things that matter most to you on the deepest levels. What are your personal values and your priorities and your beliefs?
  • Strengths, what natural abilities do you possess and which ones do you want to cultivate and develop? It becomes your personal assets.
  • Passions, what are you passionate about? What is it that gets you excited or demands your undivided attention? Making sure that your passions align with your values and standards is vital when trying to create internal harmony.
  • Identify your tendencies; your tendencies often become habits, either good or bad. Knowing your habitual tendencies can help you to analyze areas that need some improvement. It can also help you identify which tendencies most contribute to your strengths and successes.
  • Acknowledge your limitations; you will never be the very best at everything. It’s better to know which skills or activities are beyond your ability for now. That way you can delegate those things to others while you focus your energy where it’s the most effective.
  • Set your goals, goals need to be specific, measurable, achievable, and realistic. Clarity is a key ingredient when it comes to setting your goals. Clarity leads to action, lack of clarity leads to confusion and inaction.
  • Establish your direction, once you understand your values, strengths, passions, tendencies, limitations and goals – you need to have a destination to move toward, a direction.

“Take the time to know yourself; you are a beautiful inside and out, you are unique ”.

Chef EdieM

Roast Pork | Pernil Asado

Roast Pork | Pernil Asado This traditional Puerto Rican roast pork recipe results in a tender and succulent, melt in your mouth entree for the dinner table.  Pernil Asado is pork leg, pork shoulder or Loin, marinated in a sauce made with beautiful spices and beer, onion, garlic, scallions, achiote and cumin, then slow roasted in the oven for hours. A few minutes at the end of the slow roasting time crisps up the skin and you will have a hard time deciding if you like the tender meat or the crackling skin better!

 

 Ingredients

 1 (10 to 12 pounds) pork leg or shoulder with bone-in (I prefer without bone)

1 large white onion, diced

8 scallions, chopped

10 cloves garlic, crushed

3 tablespoons ground cumin

1 tablespoon achiote powder

1 ½ teaspoon dried oregano

2 tablespoons white vinegar

6 cups dark beer

Kosher salt |freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 Let’s make this happen:

  1.  Place pork in a large roasting pan that fits in the fridge and your oven.
  2. To make the marinade: Place all ingredients in the blender or food processor. Process until well combined.   
  3.  Make deep incisions on both sides of pork and rub the marinade all over the pork. Cover pan with plastic wrap and let marinate for 24 hours in the fridge.   
  4.  Pour the beer and ground achiote over the pork leg and let it marinate for another 24 hours, turning the pork every 8 hours. When ready to cook, remove from refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.   
  5.  Place the oven rack in the lowest position and preheat the oven to 325F. Cover roasting pan tightly with foil and roast for about 5 to 7 hours or until tender. To keep the pork from drying out you will need to bathe the pork with the pan sauces, using a soup ladle, about every 20 minutes.   
  6.  When the pork is tender remove foil from pan and let broil about 5 to 7 minutes or until skin is crisp and crackling.

 Serve with:  Puerto Rican Rice and Pigeon Peas (Arroz Con Gandules) and or salad; read blog for recipes.

 Enjoy!

Chef EdieM

Plantains | Plátano

Welcome! Jillian and Peter:

My lovely niece, Jillian is getting married this May.  My son, Peter gave his girlfriend, Lauren a ring this past winter.  I am very excited and blessed to have such a beautiful family.  Welcome!

A plantain to the untrained eye could easily be mistaken for a banana. It looks and smells like a banana, but if you ever bite into a raw plantain (plátano in Spanish), you’ll know it’s not.

Plantains are bigger than bananas, harder to peel (especially when green), and cannot be eaten raw. They must be cooked for consumption. So, why are they so popular in Latin cuisine? Plantains are very versatile. They are always ready for cooking no matter what stage of ripeness – green, yellow or black, and plantains are used in different dishes from appetizers to desserts.

Stages of Ripeness
A plantain is a fruit, but considered a vegetable. When green, they are bland and starchy, much like a yucca root or potato. Medium ripe plantains are yellow or yellow dappled with black, and they are slightly sweet. When the skins have turned almost black, the plantains are fully ripe, aromatic and sweet.

How to Peel a Plantain
Peeling a plantain can be tricky. Ripe plantains peel easily, like a banana. Green plantains are very difficult to peel.   Before you begin peeling a plantain, bring it to room temperature. If you’ve store your plantains in the refrigerator, the cold temperature can make it twice as hard to peel. One trick I use is to soak the plantains in hot tap water for a few minutes to warm them up.

  1. Slice off the ends
  2. Use a sharp knife to slit the skin from tip to tip.
  3. Peel under cold running water to keep your hands from becoming stained.
  4. Peel the skin sideways in one piece.
  5. Place the peeled fruit in salted water to keep it from discoloring before cooking.

Buying Plantains
Plantains are widely available throughout the U.S. and can usually be found in the produce section of your local supermarket. At the grocery store, look for firm plantains. Avoid shriveled, squishy, or moldy fruit. You can ripen plantains by storing them at room temperature and out of direct sunlight. Turn them daily. It will take seven to ten days for green plantains to fully ripen. If you aren’t ready to use them when they’ve reach the desired stage of ripeness, you can peel and freeze them for up to three months.

I like to buy a bunch of plantains while they are green. This way, I can enjoy them over several days and at each delicious stage of ripeness. When still green, I prepare tostones or plantain chips seasoned with salt and pepper.  They go well as a side dish with rice and beans.

Plantains are a staple in the Latin diet. They are prepared many different ways, but tostones is the quickest and easiest. It’s a perfect recipe for beginners. You can serve the tostones immediately while they’re warm as a side dish or as a snack with garlic dip.

Tostones or Plantain Chips 

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 6 minutes

Total Time: 11 minutes

Ingredients:  2 green plantains, Oil for frying, Salt to taste

 Preparation:  Heat the oil to 375 degrees.

1.  While the oil is heating up, peel the green plantains and then cut them into 3/4 inch slices.  Fry the slices in the hot oil for 3 minutes. They should be a light golden color and semi-soft.

2.  Remove the plantain slices with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Tip: Maintain the oil’s temperature.

3.  When the plantain slices are cool enough to handle (about 1 minute), smash them into flat rounds. 

4.  Fry the rounds in the hot oil for 3 minutes. They will turn crisp and golden brown.  Remove the tostones with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Salt to taste.

Serves: 3-4 people

 Garlic Dipping Sauce

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

 Ingredients:

1 cup olive oil, warmed

1 head of garlic peeled, crushed and finely chopped

3 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped

Juice of 1 lemon

Juice of 1 lime

salt to taste

 Preparation:

1.  Use a blender or food processor to mix the ingredients; Blend all the ingredients together in a bowl.

Dinner and a Movie

Several weeks ago I ran into an old college friend while I was in the city for an article writing; I suggested that we head over to Union Square Café, for those who may not know its’ location – 21 E 16th Street, Union Square Cafe serves Chef Carmen Quagliata’s American cuisine with an Italian soul, using fresh ingredients from the local Greenmarket.  My friend and I had the Chickpea & Chicken Minestra (Escarole, Corn Flour Pasta, Pecorino Romano) and Sunny Side Up Knoll Crest Egg (Pork Butcher Polenta, Wild Mushrooms) to my surprise three hours has passed so I called it a day.

The weather was holding up perfectly! What more can a gal ask for, had a great lunch with an old friend and landed a catering job “A Dinner & Movie” for 100 people in Brooklyn. Nice!!! Filled with excitement I was following my heart to one of my many favorite places in the city, the old Meatpacking District. New York City has slowly been gaining a reputation as a bastion of food innovation. I have been dining in some of New York City’s best-kept secrets for many, many years now, and I must say it’s quite an experience. This so-called food revolution happening in the Meatpacking District has seen many of the country’s best new restaurants sprouting like mushrooms in this city. I’ve traveled back and forth for many years, finding myself back home again in the big easy!  And for those of you searching for a culinary experience like no other, look no further than Spice Market, 403 W 13th Street, NYC.

Nestled amid the lofts in the trendy Meatpacking District, Spice Market is the brainchild of Star Chef Jean-Georges and Executive Sous Chef Anthony Ricco. Though Jean-Georges is one of the world’s most famous chefs, his skills extend far beyond the kitchen. A savvy businessman and restaurateur, Jean-Georges is responsible for the operation and success of a constellation of three and four star restaurants worldwide.  Jean-Georges developed his love for the exotic and aromatic flavors of the East. His signature cuisine abandons the traditional use of meat stocks and creams and instead features the intense flavors and textures from vegetable juices, fruit essences, light broths, and herbal vinaigrette’s. Jean-Georges’ culinary vision has redefined industry standards and revolutionized the way we eat.

Executive Sous Chef Anthony Ricco
Executive Sous Chef Anthony Ricco

When Spice Market opened its doors in the fleetly evolving whirl of Manhattan’s meatpacking district in early 2004, it was something else, the structure of its menu and many of its dishes are pretty much unchanged from the early days. The restaurant transports you to Southeast Asia, touching down in Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and India. It envelops you in the flavors and perfumes of those lands — in lemon grass, ginger, coconut, Thai basil. And it celebrates the sweet heat of the region’s cooking.  The decor allows the simplistic beauty of the food to really shine, though beauty isn’t the only thing bringing folks to Spice Market. The restaurant buzzed with excited energy and was comfortably full with seemingly satisfied patrons.

One of my favor dishes, Crispy pork belly with tamarind herb salad and Thai chili sugar at Spice Market.
One of my favor dishes, Crispy pork belly with tamarind herb salad and Thai chili sugar at Spice Market.

Though I would love to be selfish and keep Spice Market all to myself, is too good to stay hidden for long. What defines a trendy restaurant?  Why don’t you ask all of the people who are waiting hopefully at the bar despite the slim chance that a table will open up?  New or old, these Big Apple restaurants consistently pack in a crowd and the food ain’t too shabby either. Whether you’re looking to impress some out-of-town guests with a cool New York scene or need a place to hit before you head to the club, drop by one of these trendy haunts – if you can get a reservation, that is.

Latest Updated: 1/26/13  I received a phone call last night from my college friend and due to the unpredictable forecast of snow the “Movie & Dinner Event” in Brooklyn was put on hold (for now).  However, last week I had made backup plans for my closet friends tonight, same menu but only for a party of five. Till then, Enjoy!

Dinner & A Movie
MENU

White Wine Sangria: The beauty of the simple White Wine Sangria recipe is that it is as delicious as it is easy, and it only gets better as you add your favorite fruits!

Let’s make this happen…
• 1 Bottle white wine (Riesling, Chablis, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc)
• 2/3 cup white sugar
• 3 oranges (sliced) or may substitute 1 cup of orange juice)
• 1 lemon (sliced)
• 1 lime (sliced)
• 2 oz. brandy (optional)
• 1/2 liter of ginger ale or club soda (ginger ale for those with a sweeter tooth!)

Preparation: Pour wine in the pitcher and squeeze the juice wedges from the orange, lemon and lime into the wine, add brandy if desired. Toss in the fruit wedges (leaving out seeds if possible) and add sugar. Chill overnight. Add ginger ale or club soda just before serving. If you’d like to serve right away, use chilled white wine and serve over lots of ice.

Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes
Let’s make this happen…
• 3 pounds boiling potatoes, peeled
• Kosher salt
• 1 1/2 cups milk
• 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 1/2 cup sour cream
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• ½ tablespoon fresh chives

Directions
1. Cut the potatoes into 1-inch cubes and place them in a large pot. Cover the potatoes with cold water and add enough salt so the water tastes quite salty. Bring to a boil, and then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 to 12 minutes, until the potatoes fall apart easily when pierced with a fork.

2. Meanwhile, heat the milk and butter in a small saucepan, making sure it doesn’t boil. Set aside until the potatoes are done.

3. As soon as the potatoes are tender, drain them in a colander. Place a food mill fitted with a small disc/blade over a glass bowl. Process the potatoes through the food mill, turning the handle back and forth to force the potatoes through the disc. As soon as the potatoes are mashed, slowly whisk in enough of the hot milk/butter mixture to make the potatoes very creamy. Add 2 teaspoons of salt, chives and the sour cream and pepper and whisk to combine. Taste for seasoning and serve hot.

Beef, Pork & Veal Meatloaf
Let’s make this happen…
• 1 pound ground veal (preferably naturally raised)
• 1 pound ground pork (preferably naturally raised Berkshire)
• 1 pound ground beef (preferably naturally raised)
• 1 tablespoon chopped, fresh chives, plus 1 teaspoon for the sauce
• 1 tablespoon chopped, fresh thyme leaves, plus 1 teaspoon for the sauce
• 1 tablespoon chopped, fresh Italian parsley, plus 1 teaspoon for the sauce
• 3 large eggs (preferably organic)
• 1 1/3 cups finely ground Panko
• 2/3 cup whole milk (preferably hormone and antibiotic free)
• 2 tablespoons kosher salt
• 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
• Olive oil
• 2 stalks of celery, finely diced
• 1 large Spanish onion, finely diced
• 2 cups chicken or beef stock
• 8 to 10 cloves roasted garlic
• 3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
1. Place the veal, pork, beef, chives, thyme, parsley, eggs, Panko, milk, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl.

2. Heat a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat and film it with extra-virgin olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the celery and onion to the pan and cook, stirring, until softened. Remove the celery and onion from the pan and let cool. When the mixture is cool, add it to the mixing bowl with the other ingredients.

3. Using clean hands mix the ingredients until well combined and everything is evenly distributed. Place a piece of parchment paper on a sheet pan (it should have sides at least 1 1/2 inches high to prevent grease runoff from the pan). Place the meat on the sheet pan and pat it and punch it down to remove any air pockets. Shape the meat into a loaf (about 14 1/2 inches long by 5 inches wide by 2 inches high). Place the sheet pan in the oven and bake 40 to 50 minutes or until a meat thermometer indicates an internal temperature of 155 to 160 degrees. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, for the sauce, combine the broth, roasted garlic and butter over medium-high heat and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until lightly thickened. Add 1 teaspoon of each of the chopped thyme, chives and parsley. Slice the meatloaf into serving portions and spoon the hot sauce over the meatloaf and serve.

Chef EdieM

Food & Clothing Drive for the Rabinowitz Family

Hurricane Sandy the Aftermath

On October 31 Lauryn Rabinowitz wrote on her Facebook wall,

“Today finally made it all real that I no longer have a house 😦 sorry for everyone else who has to go through the same thing”….

In the following days to come Lauryn wrote again on her Facebook wall,

…“Even though I no longer have a house or clothes or anything along those lines I’m so thankful to have my family and boyfriend and happy that we are all safe thank you everyone who has been there for us it really means a lot”….

The aftermath of Sandy has left many homeless and helpless, please I am asking my friends, family members and co-workers, and to those on the social network to join me and to help out the Rabinowitz Family.

Lauryn Rabinowitz and my son, Peter a month prior Hurricane Sandy in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

I am organizing a charity clothing drive for Lauryn Rabinowitz and her Family. I am collecting old, never used or gently used clothing from around the New Jersey area in hopes of helping the Rabinowitz Family. The Rabinowitz family lost everything; they had fled from their home during the storm with only the cloths on their back. The family includes both parents, three girls and a 24 month old baby boy.

Articles of clothing most needed are: Jeans, sweaters, undergarments, shoes, warm coats; shoes female 7 ½ – 9, male 10-11 ½, baby boy 24 months old. Blankets, sheets or anything that can keep them warm would be a great help also.

Food needed: I am gratefully accepting food donations also, any type of store cards (i.e. Target, Shop Rite, A&P, Kids R Us, CVS, and Walgreen). Dry and canned goods are best for the family; as for the baby I strongly recommend store food cards since I am not sure what the baby needs are at the moment (eating habits or needs).

The economy’s fragile condition has eliminated many jobs in the area, leaving more and more local families like the Rabinowitz to fall into financial ruin. Then this storm “Sandy” comes and has made it worse than ever. The small task of donating your unused or old clothing can go a long way in the lives of the Rabinowitz family.

Please Donate to the Rabinowitz Family

If you wish to make a donation of any kind, clothing, food or stores cards, please mail them directly to the following:

Iris Marin C/O Rabinowitz Family
224 71st Street, Ground Level Rear
Guttenberg, NJ 07093

Your contribution would be greatly appreciated. All donations of any kind must in before the next storm.  Pick up will be made by the Rabinowitz. If you have any further questions please contact me at ediem22@yahoo.com.

Chef EdieM

Having the Weekend off…and then some

There are times when you just need to get away and do nothing but relax, maybe read a book, take a long walk, fall asleep for the day. No tours, no museums, no wondering where to eat each evening. Or, there are times when you need a change of scenery, when you want to be pampered, when you want to think about nothing but the next marvelous meal. What’s great about it when a friend offers the great weekend escape, just because you need it? My friend, Arlene extended her home and hospitality to me this past weekend. I’ve had a long week at work and not feeling fabulous didn’t help at all. I was looking forward for these three days to relax my stress away. I’ll admit at first I did have reservations and hesitation was settling in. Then I’ve decided and reconsidered going off the grid completely.

TGIF, my friend had made reservations at the Chart House at Lincoln Harbor, located on the Hudson River directly across from Manhattan. The spectacular panoramic view of the glittering New York City skyline and the exceptional service, from top-of-the-catch seafood to succulent steaks, while introducing a hint of the exotic (i.e. East Meets West Tuna) an appetizer made with a zesty tuna tartar drizzled with wasabi cream paired with seared peppered tuna & avocado, with kim chee slaw & plantain chips. The ambiance, decorations, and seating all are well-arranged for its purpose, to promote the panoramic view of NYC.

My friend and I both had the Mocha Martini from the beginning to wrapping things up. The slight bitterness of mocha and sweet taste of Martini and a slight of chocolate actually complements very well with its diversity of taste.

 

 

 

Saturday morning… Message at Massage Envy in New Brunswick provided the most relaxing, therapeutic massage experience I ever had.

Afterwards, we drove down to Asbury Park for the Zombie Walk and an early dinner at Stella’s.

 

Sunday…slept in late and it was the best night sleep of my life! I was awaken by the tunes of Esperanza Spalding, I know you Know! Then I heard Dinah Washington, Cassandra Wilson and Nina Simone. I was curious to find out where this music was coming from and being perplexed I decided to follow it.

The music was coming from Benson’s Barbecue tent. Which is a part of the Edison Farmer’s Market that sets up in a parking lot on 925 Amboy Avenue, beginning in July and ending in October every year? I spotted the big oil drum BBQ pit; I don’t particularly care for smoked ribs but I was getting a good feeling about things watching the patrons that were lined up.

I mean these folks were ordering double racks and raving about the sauce so I ordered a dinner with sides of potato and bean salads for my friend.

BBQ sauce made the ribs, however it was the salads that made this road side pit something to write about. I liked all the salads. Found out these guys got a following for their summer corn salad, a mix of corn, black-eyed peas, tomatoes, onions and peppers that was being brought by the pound.

 

Life, Owner of Benson’s Barbecue

 

They served ribs, chicken and pulled pork, which I tried before they shut down for the day, but do go for the salads. You got about 2 weeks left to catch them. Hours are from 8am to 2pm, Sunday only.  One of the many reasons for the popularity of Benson’s Barbecue style is its unique blend of the greatest barbecue traditions. Here you will find seasonings that are neither too sweet, nor too hot. Traditionally, ribs are smoked “dry”, meaning that only a dry rub is applied and the rich southern style wood smoke BBQ. I highly recommend Benson’s Barbecue to all.

Enjoy!

Fresh Pumpkin Soup

Hum…Autumn it’s a time when you can’t escape pumpkins even if you wanted to. You see them everywhere, at the farms stands, farmer’s markets, grocery stores, and even wholesale stores. There are giant sizes from miniature sizes, yellow, orange and green. You can make good use of pumpkins in delicious foods throughout the season such as breads, pies, ice-cream and soups. Yes, pumpkin soup its appealing fall flavors of just-picked pumpkins and tart apples…and is sure to warm you up on a crisp autumn day. I like to top the creamy puree with a sprinkling of toasted pumpkin seeds. Oh boy, I’m getting hungry. You can serve pumpkin soup with brown sweet bread (molasses, oatmeal, or grain), and a salad. If you need/want the protein you can make an open-faced turkey sandwiches with apples and Havarti (a really good combination).  All great fall flavors.

Let’s make this happens…

8 cups chopped fresh pumpkin (about 3 pounds)
4 cups chicken broth
3 small tart apples, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. In a 5-qt. slow cooker, combine the first eight ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or until pumpkin and apples are tender.

2. Meanwhile, toss pumpkin seeds with oil and salt. Spread onto an ungreased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan. Bake at 250° for 45-50 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside.

TOASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS:
1/2 cup fresh pumpkin seeds
1 teaspoon canola oil
1/8 teaspoon salt

3. Cool soup slightly; process in batches in a blender. Transfer to a large saucepan; heat through. Garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds*To make pumpkin purée, cut a sugar pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff, lie face down on a tin-foil lined baking pan. Bake at 350°F until soft, about 45 min to an hour. Cool, scoop out the flesh. Freeze whatever you don’t use for future use.

Salty & Sweet Apple-Citrus Salad

2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 of each lettuces (curly endive, arugula, spinach) rinsed well and torn into pieces
2 Granny Smith apples, cored and ½” dice
2 pears, cored and ½ “dice
4-6 oz. Blue cheese or Gorgonzola (crumbled)
2 ruby red grapefruits, peeled and sectioned
2 oranges, peeled and sectioned
½ cup Almonds (toasted optional)
½ sun-dried cranberries
1 bunch green onions, green portion only, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard and vinegar. Add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream and whisk until smooth and blended.

2. In a large bowl, combine the lettuces, apples, grapefruits, oranges, green onions, salt, pepper and half of the vinaigrette and toss to mix.

3. Divide the salad among chilled salad plates, add cheese. Drizzle a little of the remaining vinaigrette over each salad and serve immediately.

 

Lucy & Chef EdieM

 

 

 

Lucy & Chef EdieM

Japanese Clear Soup

Serves 4

4 cups well-flavored chicken stock
½ cup Mirin
1 tbsp Shoyu (Japanese soy sauce)
4 Shiitake mushrooms, finely sliced
1 small carrot, finely sliced
4 fresh chives, each folded in half and tied in a knot
4 very thin lemon slices

Let’s make this happen…

1. Put the stock in a large pan and bring to a boil.

2. Stir in the mirin and soy sauce, reduce the heat and let simmer for two minutes.

3. Add the mushrooms and carrot and let simmer for 2 minutes.

4. Ladle the soup into small bowls, float a knotted chive and a lemon slice on top, and serve hot.

If you have time, use a miniature decorative cutter to cut the carrot slices into attractive shapes.

Enjoy!

Can a Woman get a Break!

This past Labor Day weekend I was asked why a woman like me Blogs. At first I was taken back ‘than I decided to embrace the question.

Well people blog for different reasons and I personally just like writing. It is my retrospective diary, which I like to include many personal stories and experiences that I would not otherwise share with anyone or even mutter out loud. It is my calm after the storm.

In many ways being a blogger is like writing your life story, but thinking of it that way can be intimidating to others wondering if they are being included in my blogs! What will I write!? Should they be on their best behavior around me? For goodness sake, people please I am harmless.

OK, sure I would love to reach a popular audience to capture their hearts with my life experiences. Like anyone else. I enjoy the reaction and feedback. But ultimately, plain and simple I am doing this for me. I want to share with everyone that my life stories is no difference than theirs.

I have feelings, I hurt and cry. I am humble, open-minded and well grounded. I share heartaches like everyone else out there and I have my moments of drama.

With that said “Drama”, let me share with you what happened to me this past weekend about dating.

I was set up through a friend to meet someone and hopefully maybe get a date out of it. I was reluctant and defiantly! However, I caved in and exchanged numbers. Friday afternoon we spoke and I really had a great conversation. An invite for breakfast was extended to me. I was asked to call back before retiring for the night, which I did and no one answered. I received a text minutes later stating breakfast was cancelled. Yet in the text I was told to make it up we would be having dinner in the Tribeca area than a drink in my neighborhood lounge. OK, what the hell maybe something came up I thought and I need to be patient since I haven’t been in the dating scene in a while. When we date we tend to view our compatibility with others as obviously subjective: do we have similar lifestyles? Senses of humor? Are our schedules complimentary? I figure why not give the benefit of a doubt and respond back saying yes!

Saturday came and ended! I reached out by text and would you believe I just got dumped again and we never met! Ouch. That hurt. Now take a deep breath and get over yourself. We’ve all been dumped — and we’ve all dumped someone else — but really, can a woman get a break!  Ugh. Now you know why I blog!

End of summer

We all need to say farewell to the fresh flavors of Summer, the warm sand at the beaches and free movies in the park. But don’t let summer slip away without a proper send-off. The calendar tells us that the seasons change in mid-September, but we all know that the unofficial end to summer is Labor Day. So before the routines and formality of autumn set in, let’s enjoy one last summer party to say farewell to summer. Let’s all savor and stay out late to enjoy the final strains of summer’s nightly serenades, walks at the beach, BBQ at the parks and staying at home with good food, good spirits and great company!

Edie’s Orzo Clam & Shrimp Soup

…my signature dish, which I enjoy making during the End of Summer and throughout the winter! 

Lets make this happen…

3 Doz Little necks
2 Lb Chopped clams
2 Lbs Jumbo cleaned|deveined shrimp
½ Cup Clam juice
½ Cup Lemon juice
3 Cups Water
1 Lbs Butter
1¾ Cups Chicken stock
1 Cups White cooking wine
½ Cup Orzo
2 Tbsp Olive oil
1 Tbsp Flour
5 Cloves Garlic
Salt and pepper

1. In large soup kettle melt butter and add in olive oil.

2. Add garlic (chopped); cook gently 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.

3. Blend in flour, stirring constantly for about 1 minute. Let the flour absorb the oil.

4. Add all liquids bring to a boil; stirring constantly. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.

5. Add Orzo noodles, stirring occasionally cook for 5 minutes; shut off and let it stand for 5 minutes.

6. Wash and peel shrimp; clean and brush the little necks; rinse out fresh chopped clams.

7. Turn on soup to a medium heat and add the rest of the seafood. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cover, reduce low and simmer 5 minutes.

Salt and pepper to taste
Garnish with dill, if desired, and serve hot.

VARIATION: Add 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley or cilantro just before serving.
Can be served as a starter with French bread and a glass of wine!

Putting together a Garden BBQ Menu

“Miss Silvy BBQ Party”

Salad
Golden apples, Walnuts, Fresh Baby Spinach, Heart of Romaine, Radicchio, Yellow Pepper, Sun Dried Cranberries and Sun Dried Tomatoes, Fresh Raspberry Red Wine Vinegar
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Orzo Salad

Tri Colored Orzo, Fresh Baby Spinach, Roasted Elephant Garlic, DiLusso Genoa Salami, Aged Provolone, Black & Green Olives
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Spring Lemon Chicken
Sautéed Panko Chicken Cutlets with Shiitake Mushrooms, Lemon, White Wine & Capers
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Ginger Honey BBQ Baby Back Ribs
Small Cuts of explosively flavored Ribs using seasoning such as Lemongrass, Jalapeno peppers, Honey, Ginger, and Fish Sauce.
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Photos/video to follow By: Chef Edie M

Grass-Roots and Sensitivity
There have been many people whose sensitivity and passion for their mission has motivated others to join them in their cause/fight to make a better world. These movements are often called grass-roots movements and often led by men/women whose sensitivity and passion attract others to their causes. In my adult lifetime, I can say I had many! Yes, many. Some had an impact on me and others have drifted away. We have had depressions, recessions and productivity slowdowns in this century, we still expects to grow, change and achieve. We all want to make a difference. Sensitivity has values to us all, it inspires us to become better whatever we do, it gives us pride and hope!

Spicy Dhal and Carrot Soup

This wonderful and nutritious soup includes a selection of spices to give it a kick, besides split red lentils and carrots as its two main ingredients.

What is Dhal?
Dhal is a dish made of long-cooked “pulses,” or lentils. These pulses are usually split and hulled and cooked with ghee and spices until they make a thick stew. Dhal is a main dish in India and Pakistan, and certainly one of the most popular. The dhal is then served with naan (flatbread) or over rice.

It can be a side dish or a main dish and is another ethnic food that can be adjusted to the cook’s tastes.
Dhal is often a main stay in vegetarian diets, because it is so versatile and such a good source of protein. It can be cooked with spinach, or coconut, with green peppers or cheese.

Lets get started and good luck!!!!

1/4 cup split red lentils, rinsed
5 cups fresh vegetable bouillon
3 cups sliced carrots
2 onions, chopped
1 cup canned chopped tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbsp vegetable ghee or oil (Ghee is a clarified butter used in Middle Eastern and Asian cooking. It is common in Indian cuisine, but you will find it in Middle Eastern recipes as well).
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 fresh green chile, seeded and chopped or 1 tsp minced chile
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt
1 1/4 cups skim milk
2 tbsps chopped fresh cilantro
plan yogurt, to serve

1. Place the lentils in a large pot with 2 1/2 cup of boulion, the carrots, onions, tomatoes, and garlic, then bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes, or until the vegies and lentils are tender.

2. Meanwhile, heat the ghee or oil in a small pot. Add the ground cumin and corriander, chile and turmeric and cook over low heat for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Season with salt to taste.

3. Process the soup in batches in a blender (I prefer the blender for texture) or food processor. Return the soup to the pot, add the spice mixture and the remaining bouilion, and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.

4. Add milk, taste, and adjust the seasoning, if needed. Stir in the chopped cilantro and reheat gently. Serve in warm deep soup bowls, garnished with a swirl of yogurt.

Total Calories 173
Always, always wash your hands after handling chiles because they contain volatile oils that can irritate the skin and make your eyes burn if you touch your face.

Bon Appetite from Chef EdieM

Goals and other things to be happy….Success & Inspiration

What does success look like and feel like to you? Inspiration for success in your career and life is here. Make money, have more time, invest your time and money in activities that bring you success. Find success and inspiration.

Setting goals is an integral component of career and life success. You don’t always need to write down the goals you set, although goal setting gurus say you should for best success. But, set firm goals in your mind so you always know where you are going and what you plan to achieve. I’ve always set goals and believe they’ve been a cornerstone for my accomplishments.

When we decide to set a particular goal most of us do so with the expectation and intention of achieving it!

Our enthusiasm and motivation to achieve our goal is usually very high. We may take the appropriate action to achieve our goal for a while… after a while, however, things change.

Setting goals is one thing… actually achieving them is something entirely different! We’ve all done it, we’ve all set goals and then at some point our goals are no longer our focus.

It is important to become aware of the reasons our goals become abandoned rather than allowing it to happen without much thought. Knowing why we let our goals go can often give us useful information for setting our goals in the future.

Smile a lot – If smiling is too hard for you, take a pencil and hold it with your teeth. There are enough smiling muscles involved for your brain to think you are smiling and start producing “happy” chemicals.

Sing! – Singing works just like smiling, causing your body to produce “feeling good” chemicals. Sing in the car, sing in the shower, sing when you prepare dinner and sing when you feel frustrated and notice how the negative feelings melt away.

Hang around positive people – Having happy people around you will make it easy to learn happiness. Happy people have fun around them and their ability to overcome challenges is higher than that of unhappy people who tend to lay blame and feel victimized. Choose the people you hang out with to suit your needs.

Laugh – Much like smiling, laughter is a great way to overcome physical and emotional challenges. If it does not happen naturally, try laughter therapy.

Get a move on
– Being physically active makes you happy. Find some activity you like to do and notice how it changes your mood: sex (yes, of course!), any kind of sport, dance and yoga. Make a habit of being active in any way you feel like.

Get creative – Creativity is a great way to find happiness. Think of creative things people do for a living or as hobby and notice how much happiness it gives them. Paint, draw, dance, sculpt, do some craft, invent a gadget, cook something new, write poetry or tend the garden. Tap into your creative abilities and find your “happy spot”, just as I did with my love for food!

Chef EdieM