NOT EVERYTHING I MAKE TURNS OUT GOOD
Year 2, Week1 – Ok so not everything I make turns out good, but I’d say I have a 99% success rate. This week I made butter burgers and quite frankly, they made me feel sick. I used too much butter I think, so I adjusted the recipe before I posted it. Everyone else seemed to like them, but they could have just been saying they were good so I wouldn’t feel bad. I also made a fresh tomato pasta with ricotta that also needed to be adjusted as I went along. The recipes have both been corrected, but the slide shows may be off slightly as I changed the measurements as I went along.
On Monday. I made mustard roasted fish and a sausage and broccoli frittata as the meals I donated to a food insecure family this week. It was the first time I had ever made a frittata and I like the way it came out and will definitely be serving it to my family soon. I used spicy sausage and chopped the broccoli in small pieces so it would be fully cooked before the eggs were added. I used a cast iron skillet to cook it in and it transferred from the stove to the oven perfectly.
Last night was Rosh Hashanah and I had my friends, the Murnicks over for dinner. I love to cook for this holiday because it is all about food with no restrictions. I went to the West Orange Bake Shop for their pull-apart challah and served it with apples and honey. My matzoh balls were so fluffy in my chicken soup. I also made BBQ brisket, oven roasted carrots in a horseradish dijonnaise and crispy baby potatoes that I roasted in the leftover chicken fat from the matzoh balls. I used bags of baby red, yellow and purple potatoes that were a perfect salty side to the sweetish brisket. For dessert, I made apple tarts using puff pastry and red and green apples. Cooking for friends and family on the holidays is my greatest pleasure.
WHAT YOU PAY ATTENTION TO
FOCUS ON WHAT MATTERS
LET GO OF WHAT DOES NOT
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AISLE 3 IS one YEAR OLD!
Week #52 – I can’t believe I started the website 1 year ago. I officially launched it on September 12th and this is my last post of the first year. I did a lot of cooking this week, making 6 meals in total. I started off with a broccoli crust pizza that I took to the pool to have with Charlie and share with the lifeguards. I had been reading all about cauliflower crust pizza and since I don’t like cauliflower and I love broccoli, I went with that. It is gluten free and so easy to make and it is really, really, good. Steamed broccoli is chopped and squeezed dry and mixed with cheese and spices and shaped into a crust and baked until crisp. Then it is topped with sauce, cheese and toppings and baked for 10 minutes. The crust is crisp and it tastes like broccoli pizza and I would much rather eat this than a fake gluten-free crust.
On the last night of the pool, I made spinach stuffed chicken breasts with couscous and a salad to bring to have dinner with jack and Charlie on his last day of work. Of course, I had plenty to share with the lifeguards and they loved it too. On Monday night, I made pepper jack chicken enchiladas with salsa verde using a rotisserie chicken from Costco. It is one of my favorite recipes, using just the chicken, pepper jack cheese, salsa verde and tortillas. It takes less than 10 minutes to throw together and it bakes in 20 minutes. I made a quick pico de gallo as it baked and it was a delicious and healthy meal.
I made cuban pork chops and cajun shrimp and rice as the two meals I donate to a food insecure family in my town. It makes my day to drop that food off each week and to hand it over to one of the two smiling boys who live there. I finished off my week of cooking with weeknight baked ziti that was ready in less than 40 minutes. It is topped with fresh mozzarella and broiled for a few minutes until melted and it made an awesome meal that could feed a crowd.
BEING POSITIVE IN A NEGATIVE SITUATION IS NOT NAÏVE.
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CHARLIE’S LAST FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL
Week #51 – Today was Charlie’s last first day of school. He is starting his senior year and I am so proud of him. He is the biggest fan of my cooking and he loves having his friends eat with us. Sometimes I make dinner and bring to the pool and we feed the lifeguards too. I made cheeseburger empanadas and took them to the pool to have dinner with Jack and Charlie. The recipe made plenty so I could give them out to a lot of friends. They were awesome and would be fun to serve at a party or if you had kids over. On Tuesday, two of Charlie’s buddies came for a dinner of bacon tomato pasta. I picked up some Calandra’s bread on my way home from work to go with it and they ate everything. I was also able to make double sauced wings this week, using both red and white bbq sauces.
I made 2 sheet pan meals this week to donate to the family I feed. I made pork chops with chickpeas and fish Provencal with potatoes and green beans. Both were complete meals and it felt so good to be able to drop off two heavy trays of food.
FAILURE DEFEATS LOSERS
FAILURE INSPIRES WINNERS
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NO ONE TO TAKE TO COLLEGE THIS YEAR
Week #50 – It is so weird not to have to take anyone to college this year. Jack graduated, Charlie is still in high school and Harry stayed in Florida this summer so he is already in his apartment and started school last Monday. On Sunday, I made burgers at the pool to eat with my family. I made a crack burger that had bbq sauce, pepper jack cheese and red onion on it. The meat is basted with the sauce as it cooks so it is really infused with flavor.
On Monday, I made honey garlic butter shrimp and chicken tetrazzini as the meals to donate to the food insecure family I cook for. Both came out great and it was nice to drop off two delicious dishes that everyone will love.
On Tuesday, Charlie’s girlfriend, Eliza came for dinner and I made a really cool chicken parm pizza inspired from the NYC restaurant, quality meats. This is the first dish I have posted that actually has to be started the day or morning before you want to make it. The ground chicken needs to be seasoned and then pressed into a disk and frozen before you can make this. The crust of the pizza is a fried chicken cutlet shaped into a disk and topped with sauce and cheese and sliced into wedges like a pizza. It is very impressive and fun to serve.
ONCE YOU BEGIN TO VALUE YOUR INNER PEACE OVER YOUR NEED TO REACT AND BE RIGHT
YOU WILL IN FACT EXPERIENCE MORE INNER PEACE AND HAPPINESS
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WINGS AND THINGS
Week #49 – I made some wings this week to take to the pool to eat with Charlie. They are his favorite food and the variation I made were grilled chipotle honey glazed wings. I asked him what I should make to go with them and he asked for oven roasted carrots. I made a quick dip of mayo, Dijon mustard and horseradish and squeezed it on top of the carrots and it was one of my favorite side dishes ever. The wings were a big hit among the lifeguards that ate the leftovers.
On Monday, I made glazed sweet sausages and peach chicken to deliver to the food insecure family I take food to. I used boneless chicken thighs to make the peach chicken and the flavor from the shallots and ginger in the dish made it taste amazing.
Last night I had my friend Nicole and her daughter Rachel over for a dinner of chicken lo mien with a bloomin’ apple for dessert. It was a delicious meal that was healthy and tasted great. I love cooking for my friends and have just signed up to host an eatwith meal on september 16th. I hope to fill the table with 10 guests and have a great meal planned.
DON’T LOWER YOUR STANDARDS
BUT DO REMEMBER THAT REMOVING YOUR EXPECTATIONS OF OTHERS IS THE BEST WAY TO AVOID BEING DISAPPOINTED BY THEM
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I LOVE COOKING IN MY KITCHEN
Week #48 – Because this summer has been so cool, I have been cooking more than usual, especially baking. It relaxes me and I love being in my kitchen, it is my safe spot. On Sunday, I made dinner and took it to the pool to eat with my family and some friends that were there. I made a boneless chicken scarpariello with cacio e pepe pasta and an arugula salad. It is one of my favorite meals and my kids love it too. I threw everything in disposable aluminum trays and carried it over, so there was nothing to clean up. When I got home I was in the mood to bake and I had blueberries in my fridge so I made the perfect blueberry muffins and ate one on Monday morning on my porch after I came back from running. It was a great way to start the week!
On Monday, I made baked fish fillets and chicken paprikash as the meals to donate to the food insecure family I feed. Both dishes smelled so good in my kitchen. The fish is baked with shallots and heavy cream and was amazing. I served the chicken paprikash over eggs noodles to make a hearty meal out of it. That night, Charlie was working the late shift at the pool, so I made manna burgers from white manna in Hackensack and some crinkle cut fries. I brought them to the pool and served one to Charlie’s friend, who pronounced it the best burger he ever had. When Jack got home that night I made one for him too and he also said it was the best burger he ever had.
PEOPLE WHO LET GO OF GRUDGES UNDERSTAND THE VALUE OF FORGIVENESS
THERE IS NO REASON TO BE BITTER OR ANGRY WHEN YOU CAN ENJOY INNER PEACE
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COOL SUMMER DAYS
Week #47 – August has been an unusually cool month so I have been able to cook some pasta dishes that I normally wouldn’t in the summer. My friend Ralph gave me some pasta and his homemade bolognese sauce that we had on the rainy Monday night and it was so delicious and perfect after the stormy day. Saturday, Charlie was working the late shift so I made crunch burgers just like the ones at Bobby Flays Burger Palace and brought them to the pool with strawberry shakes. Jack, Charlie, me and two of the other lifeguards really enjoyed them. I made a sauce of mayo, dijon mustard and horseradish sauce that went on the toasted rolls and I used jalapeño chips to make them crunchified. They had a nice spice to them. Sunday, I went to Richfield farms to get corn and brought it along with BBQ chicken and grilled potatoes to eat at the pool again on for a family dinner on Sunday night.
On Monday, I made sausage and spinach stuffed italian peppers and pork chops with a pineapple salsa as the 2 meals I donated this week to a food insecure family. It rained most of the day so it was nice to be home cooking and then to deliver the meal just as the rain ended made it a perfect day. On Tuesday, Monica and Nick came for dinner and we had a fresh and delicious chicken taco salad. I grilled more corn from the farm and some chicken and served it on green of lettuce, cilantro and scallions along with diced tomatoes, avocados, monterey jack cheese and crushed tortilla chips. I made a ranch-salsa-cilantro-lime dressing to go on it. It was so good we couldn’t stop eating it. I also made some frozen custard to celebrate national frozen custard day. Last night Jack go out of work on time so we could all eat together. I made meatball parm subs that everyone loved. I am really enjoying coming up with new recipes each week and making cool recipes that everyone will enjoy.
Happiness is the new rich
Inner peace is the new success
Health is the new wealth
Kindness is the new cool
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MY INCUBATOR PROGRAM IS OVER ☹
Week #46 – My NJII Health IT accelerator program ended last Friday and I’m really going to miss it. I made great connections and the comradery was amazing. It ended up being a core group of about 5 women as others stopped attending. We were all very supportive of each other and plan to get together again. Sunday was a beautiful day at the pool and I came home to make chipotle chicken burritos along with a homemade queso dip that crossed by instagram feed that morning. I love the spicy marinade for the chicken with it’s smoky flavor from the chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.
Monday morning, I got an early start on the two meals I made to donate to a food insecure family. I made a cajun chicken pasta that reminded me of a dish from the California Pizza Kitchen in the 1990’s. I also stuffed pork chops with a spinach and artichoke mixture. I had some of the spinach artichoke mixture leftover so I baked it into a dip for my friend Linda and her family because I know it is her son’s favorite. That night we had a quick bolognese sauce over a thick spaghetti that was delicious and so easy to make.
Tuesday was the day I took my niece, Riley to get a second piercing in her ears. We went to the piercing pagoda at Brunswick Square Mall, exactly where I got my ears pierced 30 years ago! It was so fun to go back to the same exact spot in the mall with her and they looked great. I came back to the house after and grilled up a couple of pizzas and had dinner with Michael, Anne, Carter and Riley outside on a beautiful summer night.
EVERYTHING COMES TO YOU
IN THE RIGHT MOMENT
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HARRY IS HOME THIS WEEK
Week #45 – Harry came home this week and he is really appreciating my home cooking. We had burgers on the grill on his first night home and last night I made the only pasta dish Harry will eat, pasta carbonara. I also used the opportunity to teach Harry the easiest way to make the dish with only two pans and he can use Dorot frozen garlic instead of fresh.
The graduation party at Carter’s house was awesome and so fun to see everyone. I made my favorite brownies and early in the morning, before we left, I made a bunch of food to have in the house for lunches this week. I grilled some boneless chicken breasts that I had marinated in italian dressing, made some super easy banana muffins and banana ice cream because it is Harry’s favorite. I also had a lot of bananas to use up. If I’m organized on Sundays, I can cook enough food to make lunches for Jack and have extra stuff around for the boys all week.
On Tuesday, I attended my NJII accelerator reception at the Manor in West Orange. It was a great evening with amazing people. I made a lot of connections and can’t wait to reach out to them tomorrow to move things along with the website. I also spoke with the son of a woman in my accelerator program who runs a website called Pedul, a crowdfunding resource for college tuition. It is a very cool concept and I am going to have Charlie look into it.
On Monday, I made shrimp saganaki, a greek dish with tomatoes, olives and feta cheese. I also cooked some easy pork chops to donate to the family I bring meals to each week. I felt great dropping off the food this week, it feeds my soul more than it does the family I cook for.
DO YOUR BEST TO CLEAR YOUR MIND AND FOCUS ON THE PRESENT
YOU DON'T NEED BAGGAGE FROM YESTERDAY CLOUDING YOUR VISION OF TODAY
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Dog Days of July
Week #44 – Summertime means grilling on my Weber charcoal grill. I grilled up some italian sausage sandwiches, sesame ginger soy pork chops and triple citrus chicken. I love to use charcoal to grill because it gives the food a great flavor compared with a gas grill. I made a delicious boneless chicken breast stuffed with boursin cheese in a white wine sauce that I delivered to the family I feed each week. They got that along with the triple citrus chicken. We ate the italian sausage sandwiches on Saturday with Charlie at the pool on his break and the boys ate the pork chops on Monday night when they got home from work.
On Tuesday, Charlie’s friend Morgan was coming for dinner and my nephew Carter was coming up for his orientation at Montclair State so I made animal style burgers with crinkle cut fries and bottled cokes. The boys loved them and I also made some homemade soft serve and waffle cones for dessert, so the dinner was a big hit. I am so excited to have my nephew going to school nearby, we went over his schedule and I showed him how to lay it out on a grid to see how his week flows. It’s nice he has two days off and only one class on Tuesdays. This weekend we have a family graduation party for all the nephews who graduated this year at Carter’s house, and I’m making brownies, no nuts!
GO FOR LONG WALKS
INDULGE IN GREAT CONVERSATIONS
PAY ATTENTION TO THE MOMENT
COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS
LET IT GO FOR A LITTLE WHILE & JUST BE
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BACK TO NORMAL
Week #43 – I cooked 6 meals this week because I had company twice and I took 2 meals to the pool to eat with Charlie. Four of the meals I cooked are featured this week. On Saturday I took loose meat sandwiches (inspired from Roseanne) to the pool along with shoestring fries to feed the family. They are featured this week and tasted like the White Rose System burgers. Sunday night Ralph and I cooked his famous linguini with clam sauce at the pool and served it up to over a dozen people. It was so fun and delicious; one of those serendipitous summer nights where everything comes together so easily and relaxed.
On Monday the two meals I made to donate were a shrimp boil and pork candy. They are both nice summer meals if you grill the pork chops. It was felt so nice to deliver the large tray of shrimp, corn and potatoes along with the sweet glazed pork to the boys late that afternoon. Then I went home and put together dinner for the boys…Chicken, sausage and peppers. OMG it was so good and spicy with the hot vinegar peppers and the hot sausage. I made a quick cacio e pepe spaghetti to go with it and everyone loved it.
On Tuesday for my dinner with friends I had Mindy and the girls over for ravioli caprese. I got the inspiration from an instagram post of the dish from Le Sirenuse in Miami. I simmered sliced tomatoes in marinara sauce as the ravioli cooked and placed the cooked ravioli on top then, topped it with fresh mozzarella and placed it under the broiler to brown it and topped it with fresh basil. I served it with my arugula salad and garlic knot and the girls went crazy. I also made a skillet brownie with vanilla ice cream and homemade caramel sauce that was delicious and looked super-impressive as I served it! Last night my college roommate, Joan was in town from California to visit her sister so I had them over for dinner. It was so fun to see her and we celebrated with strawberry margaritas, pico de gallo and grilled white pizza topped with arugula salad. We hung, we drank, we ate, we laughed. Just the way it should be with old friends.
THERE’S A FUTURE VERSION OF YOU WHO’S PROUD AND APPRECIATIVE OF THE PATIENCE AND PERSISTENCE YOU’VE BEEN EXPRESSING.
KEEP ON, KEEPIN’ ON!
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HAPPY JULY 4TH
Week #42 – This week was all out of whack for me because of the July 4th holiday on a Tuesday and I had a wedding on the 3rd, a Monday! On Saturday I went out to Long Island to visit my best friend shelly, who has been sick. I wanted to make some of her favorite foods and leave her with leftovers. I decided to do tacos because she is staying away from gluten and I had corn tortillas. I made a grilled scallion crema to go over the tacos and had pico de gallo, guacamole and salsa to serve alongside. For dessert I made a coconut sorbet and toasted coconut to go on top. It was so good that shelly gave the stink eye to Tyler and Tamer as they took seconds. It was all for her.
On the 4th, I went for traditional cheeseburgers and macaroni salad at the pool. On Monday it was my birthday and I had a wedding to go to that night. I thought that even though it was my birthday and a sort of holiday, I still wanted to cook and deliver the meals as I always do each Monday. I made a pasta primavera and a thai pork noodle bowl that I delivered right before it was time for me to get dressed. I was so happy to drop off the food, it made my birthday more meaningful.
YOUR BODY HEARS EVERYTHING YOUR MIND SAYS
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JACK STARTED WORKING
Week #41 – Jack started working on Monday as a technical recruiter in cloud technologies for a firm called Nigel Frank. He was so excited to get started and he came home on the first day and described it as camp in fancy clothes. It is a little challenging to make dinner for him because he is not on a regular schedule and gets home late. Last Friday I made sausage burgers with garlicky spinach. Jack saw the spinach and said there was no way he was eating it. Then I sautéed some garlic, olive oil and anchovy paste and added the spinach to it, and all of the sudden he was interested. When he tasted the burger that also had melted provolone on it, along with sun-dried tomato pesto, Jack said it was so good, he was never moving out!
Sunday, Charlie was working at the pool during dinner time so I ran home and made chicken caprese and brought it back for everyone to eat. It was so good and fast to make. I was back with dinner in less than an hour and there was plenty to feed to friends and family. On my summer burger quest, I recreated white castles that came out exactly like the real thing. The onions are soaked in water then cooked and steamed under the burgers and rolls. The meat is rolled out and cut into squares with holes poked in it with chop sticks. It was very impressive and I’ll put that one in the win column.
On Monday, I made both masitas de puerco and farfalle with sausage and butternut squash to donate to the family I cook for. I was actually cooking and photographing both meals at the same time, it was a challenge, but so fun. I love this part of my week; it is so satisfying to make and deliver food to a food insecure family that really appreciates it.
GO TO ENVIRONMENTS THAT EXPAND YOUR MIND
SPEND TIME WITH PEOPLE WHO INSPIRE YOU
YOUR LIFE IS YOUR CHOICE
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THE FIRST WEEK OF SUMMER
Week #40 – This has been a nice and relaxing week so far, the longest day was yesterday and it is my favorite day of the year! Charlie finished school and it is Jack’s last week before he starts working. I am still going to my incubator program and I love it so much. Last Friday, 2 tech guys came to speak and of course I was way into what they were saying. It was very interesting to see how the shortage of tech developers, especially women could be useful to me. I am also super intrigued by the merger of Amazon and Whole Foods and what that could mean for my app.
I worked in the kitchen this past weekend at the St Phillip’s fair and it was so much fun, I got a real charge out of getting the food to the customers as fast as possible. This week I got all my website cooking done in 2 days. On Monday morning I made a hasselback chicken margherita and some sesame shrimp as my meals to donate to the food insecure family I feed. When I pulled up on Monday afternoon, the mom, who is usually not home, was sitting on the porch and she was so happy to see me with the food. She called for her boys to come to get the trays and they also had big smiles on their faces as I was leaving. It is truly the best way to start the week.
That night I made rigatoni alla vodka with garlic knots and arugula salad. Charlie’s friend was over as I started cooking, so I asked him to stay too. I was delicious and I am excited to post it so everyone can make it. Tuesday was the first day of summer vacation so the boys and I ran our traditional first day errands by going to the giant Walmart in Secaucus. They have a great selection of mexican and asian foods that I can’t find elsewhere. When we got back home I grilled the beer cheese burgers for lunch before taking Charlie to work. They were a nice addition to my burger recipes I will be trying all summer.
EVERY MORNING YOU HAVE THE SAME 2 CHOICES:
CONTINUE TO SLEEP WITH YOUR DREAMS
WAKE UP & DO SOMETHING THAT BRINGS YOU CLOSER TO THEM
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A MINI HEAT WAVE AND JORGE WAS HERE
Week #39 – My friend Jorge was in town for the weekend, I picked him up last week as soon as I was done posting. I made white BBQ chicken for dinner along with oven roasted carrots and crunchified potatoes that were so good, Jorge cried when I dumped the last scoop down the drain. I used the leftover chicken the next day to make chicken sandwiches with a spicy remoulade. We had a fun time and on Friday we ate dinner at Ani Ramen, a ramen noodle shop on Bloomfield Avenue. It was so good; I can’t wait to go back. We had a grilled edamame with a hot chili oil that I am making for Father’s Day.
On Monday it was Shake Shack’s 13th birthday so I made shack burgers from a recipe I found in the Food Network Magazine. They had recipes for a bunch of fast food burgers and I’m going to make them all this summer. They have a recipe for white castles that I’m so excited to try, it is my secret favorite fast food. The shack burgers are cooked in a cast iron skillet and pressed flat with a spatula to create a crust that made the burgers taste just like the ones from Shake Shack.
It was in the 90’s on Monday and I knew it would be too hot for the family I deliver food to, to heat something up. I made a california chicken salad with strawberries and grilled chicken that was cold and refreshing as well as filling. I also made a rotisserie chicken satay with a peanut dipping sauce. Both dishes were nice and cold when I dropped them off and the boys seemed psyched when I told them what I had made.
I worked on Tuesday and got everything back to normal on our website and I felt better about the whole situation. That night for my Tuesday night dinner with friends, we had Jack’s friend, Anthony over. I needed to make a sausage recipe so I came up with sausage and spinach stuffed shells that were so good. Fran, Anthony’s grandmother ended up in the hospital this week and she was very upset with the quality and selection of food. I packed up the leftovers for him to take and he texted me that she ate them right away. It made me so happy to feed her.
HAPPINESS AND A NEGATIVE MINDSET CAN’T CO-EXIST
THOSE WHO MOVE FORWARD WITH A POSITIVE ATTITUDE WILL FIND THAT THINGS ALWAYS WORK OUT BETTER
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WORKING AND RUNNING A WEBSITE IS SOMETIMES A CHALLENGE
Week #38 – This was an unusually busy week, I had to work a lot at my part time job because I crashed the website and had to rebuild it. It was very stressful and I’m still not done. I was able to get some nice cooking in to relieve the anxiety. I made some pork chops milanese with an arugula salad tossed with fresh mozzarella. It is one of Charlies favorite meals because I served cacio e pepe pasta with it. On Saturday my best friend shelly and my niece ali came out for dinner we had so much fun. I made my favorite pasta from the website, penne with asparagus in a lemon parmesan cream sauce. I also made banana ice cream for dessert and had enough to share at work yesterday. Pizza was on the menu for Tuesday, so I put together a white pizza topped with arugula salad and a bee sting pizza with spicy sopressata and honey. Jack said it was the best white pizza he ever had 🙂
The two meals I made to donate this week came out so good that my house smelled great for 2 days. I made a salisbury steak dish and an indian chicken in a tomato cream sauce. My friend Susan stopped by for coffee just as I had finished the chicken so I had her taste it. The sauce was sweet from cinnamon, ginger and garam masala and she loved it! I feel very fortunate to be able to donate meals to a family in need and it was just the pick-me-up I needed after a stressful work day.
HARD SITUATIONS BUILD STRONG PEOPLE
EVERYONE HAS GONE THROUGH SOMETHING THAT HAS MADE THEM STRONGER THAN THEY COULD’VE EVER BEEN OTHERWISE
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I AM A FOUNDER
Week #37 – I am officially a founder of a new business. I started at NJIT last Friday in their summer incubator program. The other people that are participating in the program are all really smart and have products and solutions that will really make an impact on our society. There are doctors that have invented a range of motion detector and others who have created platforms for health care. So far, it is mostly women who are participating, so that is really inspiring and encouraging. I can’t wait for tomorrow to attend my second session and collaborate with everyone so we can all become successful with our new ventures.
The Montclair Beach Club opened this weekend giving me the opportunity to cook and photograph my meals in a new location and to make some summer dinners that require a grill. On Sunday I made Jewish BBQ chicken with a vinegar slaw and dijon potatoes. The potatoes are tossed with dijon mustard, olive oil, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper and then wrapped in foil and cooked on the grill. The Jewish BBQ chicken is from a childhood friend’s mother who always made this. I served the chicken dinner to my friends at the pool and they loved it. Lots of people came up to me to ask me what smelled so good and I was surprised to learn how many people were not only aware of my website, but who were actually cooking from it. On Memorial Day, it stopped raining long enough for me to grill Niman ranch burgers and I served them with oven roasted sweet potato wedges.
The two meals I made to donate this week both used lemons. I made a lemon spaghetti that I posted today and chicken in a lemon-caper sauce. It was nice to have a rainy Monday morning to cook and it was a wonderful way to start the week.
DREAMS DON’T WORK UNLESS YOU DO
YOU CAN ONLY FAIL IF YOU STOP TRYING
ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE
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NEW JERSEY INNOVATION INSTITUTE
Week #36 – I got accepted into the New Jersey Innovation Institute’s Ignite Summer Accelerator program for new tech businesses. I am beyond excited to be participating and can’t wait to make aisle3nj.com into a profitable website, that will help its users to get dinner on the table without having to rely on expensive take-out, while supporting the local supermarkets and the people who work there. My son Jack graduated from the University of Vermont and it was an awesome weekend with family. We are back and settling into the beginning of the summer season. The Montclair Beach Club opens this weekend and I am hoping to do a lot of cooking and posting from there.
On the menu for this week was a sweet and sour shrimp and a bucatini with sausage and peppers that I donated to the family I take dinner to. The sweet and sour shrimp is posted this week and was so delicious and simple to make, and it’s gluten-free because it is served over rice noodles. Jack’s first meal home was a roman sausage sandwich which is made by carefully splitting the sausages lengthwise and carefully pulling off the casing. It is topped with peppers and onions and then provolone cheese and served on a hoagie roll. The next night I grilled pork fajitas and served them with homemade guacamole and pico de gallo. It is so good to have Jack home and to be able to cook for him.
NEVER GIVE UP
THE BEST THINGS TAKE TIME
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HOMEMADE CHOCO TACOS
Week #35 – For Mother’s Day I got a waffle cone maker that I’ve had my eye on. I’ve been dying to make homemade choco tacos and that is just what I did! I made homemade fudge ripple ice cream and rolled the waffles around a rolling pin to shape the taco shells and filled them with the ice cream. I then flash froze them and dipped them in melted chocolate mixed with coconut oil to make a chocolate shell on the top. I made chicken parm for dinner on Mother’s Day, one of my favorites and Charlie had lunch from the leftover cutlets for the next two days.
The two meals I made to donate this week were chicken saltimbocca and homemade cheeseburger mac. They were both delicious and made my whole house smell good. Thin sliced chicken breasts are topped with sage leaves and prosciutto and cook on one side until almost cooked thru and then flipped to crisp the prosciutto as it finishes cooking. The homemade cheeseburger mac was a super easy one pan meal. The pasta cooks in the same pan as the browned ground beef in a sauce of milk and beef broth. The cheese is stirred in at the end to melt right before serving. I delivered the meals to the food insecure family I feed and my whole day was complete.
On Tuesday, Charlie’s friends came for a dinner of inside-out burgers, curly fries and the choco tacos I mentioned above. The burgers are made by mixing the ground beef with shredded cheddar cheese and crumbled bacon and then grilling or frying them. You could taste all the ingredients and they were moist and delicious. The boys ate them so fast, I had to make more. It was so fun to get to eat dinner with 5 teenage boys!
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BROTHER TO BROTHER MOTHER’S DAY DINNER
Week #34 – On Tuesday, Charlie and I made and served our last Brother to Brother dinner of the school year. It was a Mother’s Day dinner, and each of the boys stood up and talked about why their mom was special to them and then presented her with flowers. I got teary eyed when one young boy got up and said his mother had taught him that “when times get tough, we get tougher”, his voice broke as he spoke and he then ran over to give her a hug. It was an awesome moment to experience. I made a really nice meal for them of roasted chicken, penne with asparagus in a lemon parmesan cream sauce, oven roasted green beans in a tomato vinaigrette, caesar salad and flower cupcakes for dessert. I am so grateful to be a part of the Brother to Brother organization; they are such a valuable part of my community.
This week I cooked a double batch of pork chops, using 2 different recipes. I was actually able to make them simultaneously. I grilled pork chops that were quickly marinated in honey, apple cider vinegar and spices. As those pork chops marinated on the counter while the grill heated up, I cooked the apple cider pork chops in a large frying pan. Just as they were done cooking, I removed them and started to reduce the apple cider and then went out to grill the chops. The grilled chops were done just as the apple cider sauce was reduced and ready to be poured over the pan fried pork chops. On Sunday I made a deep dish pizza recipe with sausage that produced 2 pizzas. I wrapped the second one up to deliver to the family I feed along with the 2 pork chop dishes. When I told the boy who lives there that there was a deep dish pizza, his eyes lit up and it made my day.
CHARACTERIZE PEOPLE BY THEIR CONSISTENT DAILY ACTIONS AND YOU WILL NEVER BE FOOLED BY THEIR FAIR-WEATHER WORDS
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HARRY IS HOME AND HALFWAY THRU COLLEGE!
Week #33 – This has been a hectic week because Charlie is sick and we have been back and forth to the doctors and pharmacy to get him better. In the meantime, Harry is home for 4 days. He just finished his sophomore year at UCF and is heading back to Orlando for his dream job at Disney World. I am so excited for him; he loves working there. I made insanity burgers for the website this week because it was finally warm enough to break out the charcoal grill and Harry’s favorite dinner is burgers on the grill. This recipe was awesome and the components are all fast to put together and make a burger that is so unique and delicious. Shredded lettuce is combined with a burger sauce made with tobacco, giving the burger a spicy kick. The marinated onions and bacon add another layer of flavor, while the meat, glazed with worcestershire sauce and mustard as it cooks really makes this burger truly insane!
I also made a pasta with broccoli in a garlic sauce to have for dinner on Sunday before we set out to attend the Montclair Film Festival. On Monday, to support the food insecure family I deliver meals to, I made pork chops pizzaiola and chicken rustico. Both meals were so simple to put together, that anyone could make them quickly on a busy night and have a delicious meal that would satisfy everyone.
REMEMBER, YOU ALONE GET TO CHOSE WHAT MATTERS AND WHAT DOESN’T.
THE MEANING OF EVERYTHING IN YOUR LIFE HAS PRECISELY THE MEANING YOU GIVE IT.
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AT HOME IN MY KITCHEN
Week #32 – I love cooking in my kitchen, it is my comfort zone and the place I am most relaxed in. I started off on Sunday night making Charlie a German variation on his favorite meal, Chicken Schnitzel with parsley buttered noodles and oven roasted carrots. The cutlets were so crispy and the carrots, roasted with a little olive oil, salt & pepper were sweet and salty and so good alongside the chicken. I made some extra cutlets so I could pack them for lunch for Charlie. On Monday morning I made a cherry tomato and sausage bake along with some chinese style pork chops that I delivered to some food insecure neighbors. They both came out great and were so easy to make!
On Tuesday I had my friends over for dinner, Leila and Cath. I made a pasta alla gricia along with an arugula salad and garlic knots. We had such a good time and hung out until late in the evening just catching up and laughing. I love having my Tuesday night dinner with friends and who is going to say no when you invite them over for a homemade dinner?
WE MUST LET GO OF THE LIFE WE HAVE PLANNED, SO AS TO ACCEPT THE ONE THAT IS WAITING FOR US
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Week #31 – This week is spring break and my schedule is all thrown off. I took Charlie to visit colleges in Boston this week so I worked on Monday instead of Wednesday. This meant that I had to shop and cook the meals I needed to deliver to the family I feed ever the weekend. I made a pimento mac and cheese that is posted on the website this week and some southwestern chicken with a chili lime butter sauce. Jack was home for Easter weekend and I made a pasta with an oven roasted grape tomato sauce. I know this is a short post, but it has been an abbreviated week of cooking and I will catch up next week.
STOP FOCUSING ON HOW STRESSED YOU ARE AND REMEMBER HOW BLESSED YOU ARE
COMPLAINING WON’T IMPROVE YOUR REALITY, BUT A POSITIVE ATTITUDE WILL
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Week #30 – If you were wondering (all 3 of you) why I haven’t posted in a while, it is because I move my website over to a GoDaddy server and got a new theme and recipe cards. It was a ton of work to redo all the recipes and links, but it is done and I can move on. I have still been busy cooking for the website and delivering meals to a family that doesn’t always have enough to eat. I made dinner for Brother to Brother last week and I am serving my final meal of the year at their Mother’s Day Dinner on May 9th. I made the boys some more bbq chicken, because they were so happy with it when I made it for the last meeting. I served it with a delicious macaroni and cheese, oven roasted green beans with a tomato vinaigrette, creamy crunchy corn and a caesar salad. For dessert I found a recipe for chocolate cupcakes with a strawberry marshmallow frosting. They came out so good, I’m not usually very successful in my attempts at making frosting, but this recipe used butter, powdered sugar and marshmallow fluff and then a fresh strawberry puree that gave it an awesome color and flavor. It tasted like a chocolate covered strawberry when you bit into it.
Ralph and Marie were my last Tuesday night dinner with friend’s guests. I served cavatelli and broccoli with the cavatelli I got from Andrea Foods. It was so fun to see them and I’m overdue for a food field trip with Ralph. This past week was passover and I hosted the first night with a sedar for 12. I love making passover food, the matzoh ball soup, the brisket and the macaroons. You are not making the effort for passover if you don’t separate eggs!
POSITIVE THINKING ISN’T ABOUT EXPECTING THE BEST TO HAPPEN EVERY TIME
IT’S ABOUT ACCEPTING ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS EVERY TIME AND MAKING THE BEST OF IT
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New web design
Week #27 – I spent all last week re-designing my website to make it look more professional and to have it function better and be more searchable on google. I love the new look and recipe cards, check them out! I had my boys home on spring break from college and I cooked up a storm for them, pasta carbonara, pulled pork with mac and cheese and mini ravioli with mini meatballs. The mini ravioli are from Andrea Foods and they are part of my first collaborative post. I contacted Andrea Foods about getting some of their products to use for my website and they invited me into their store to get what I needed. I chose the mini ravioli and some cavatelli that I will make next week into cavatelli and broccoli. They are super cool to work with and it was so exciting to go get my first free food products to use.
For my Tuesday night dinner with friends, I had the Oliphant’s over for bbq chicken legs, creamy crunchy corn and oven roasted rainbow carrots. George and Zoe are friends and neighbors who also have 3 boys. Charlie sometimes babysits for them, so the boys were so excited to come for dinner. I got lots of great pictures and because it was Pi day (3/14), I made an ice cream pie for dessert. The pie is just basically ice cream mixed with candy and nuts and poured into a graham cracker crust and frozen until solid. I poured on come chocolate and caramel syrups over the top and it was very impressive for such little effort.
Over the last 2 weeks I managed to deliver 5 meals to the family I feed. Last week I delivered buttermilk fried shrimp and buffalo chicken burgers and this week I brought them sausage rolls, spicy ginger pork noodles and shrimp with white beans and tomato. It feels really good to have this as part of my blogging process and no matter how hard my week is, I always know I get to make meals that will make a difference in someone’s life. Did you make a difference today?
we can choose to be affected by the world
or we can choose to affect the world
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My boys come home tonight
Week #26 – Jack and Harry come home for spring break tonight and I will be doing a lot of cooking this weekend 🙂 I started off last weekend by making mozzarella en carozza, basically a deep fried italian grilled cheese that I served with Bongiovi marinara sauce and an arugula salad… it was so good! On Sunday I tossed together oven roasted broccoli and some pasta along with ricotta cheese and lemon-zested panko breadcrumbs, broiled it for a few minutes and I had a one-pan dinner ready in under 25 minutes. On Tuesday, my friend Nicole and her daughter Rachel came for garlic chicken pesto pasta that I served with my arugula salad and some garlic knots. I love cooking for Rachel because she always asks how I make everything so she can then go and try it herself. She loved the garlic knots - I always have pizza dough and Dorot spices in my freezer so I can whip them up pretty easily and they never fail to impress. They are also the best simple recipe I have:
- ½ stick butter
- 2 cubes Dorot chopped parsley
- 3 cubes Dorot minced garlic
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- 1 pizza dough
- preheat oven to 350 degrees
- melt butter, parsley, garlic and garlic powder in an oven proof skillet
- stir to combine
- roll dough into walnut sized balls and place in melted butter
- bake for 20 minutes until browned
This week I made both shrimp fra diavolo over linguine and roasted chicken in a dijon sauce to donate to the family I take dinner to. Both meals were well under $20 and could feed at least 6 people. It fed my soul to take two heavy trays of food down to feed my neighbors that don’t have enough to eat.
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Brother to Brother dinner this week
Week #25 – My friend Jorge from Miami came to visit this past weekend and it was so much fun to cook for him. I picked him up at the airport on Thursday and took him to Uncle Giuseppe’s Marketplace to get the ingredients to make an angel hair pasta with lemon and cheese. We also picked up some of their amazing rice balls and I served them along with an arugula salad and garlic knots for that night’s dinner. Later that weekend I made meatloaf sandwiches that were topped with spicy pickles and onion straws and served with carrots and sweet potato fries. It was a delicious and quick dinner that was very satisfying.
On Monday the meals I made to take to a hungry family in my town were cajun shrimp and meatballs in gravy over mashed potatoes. They both came out great (I let Jorge taste test them) and I was happy to drop them off later that day. I also made a quick dinner for us later that night of chicken with pancetta and balsamic with cacio e pepe and arugula salad. I got a photo this week from Jack’s girlfriend Rachel, who made my recipe for pho chicken bowls. It’s so amazing when my kids and their friends actually make my recipes.
This was my week to make dinner for the Brother to Brother meeting. I cooked some BBQ chicken along with au gratin potatoes, creamy-crunchy corn and caesar salad. I also baked some brownies for dessert. When the boys came out of the meeting to get their food, they were so psyched I had made a hot chicken dinner. It was so nice to see them so excited to eat and I knew I had made plenty for them to have seconds.
maturity is learning to gracefully walk away from situations that threaten your peace of mind, self-respect, values, morals, or self-worth
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Week #24 – I was walking out of my house last Thursday, just after I finished posting for the week, and I had an overwhelming feeling that a story would be written about my website soon. I don’t know why I thought that because I didn’t do anything to facilitate one. I was meeting a friend at Dunkin’ Donuts and as I sat down with our coffees to wait, I opened my email and there it was:
I'm a writer for Baristanet.com and would love to do a story on Aisle 3. Can you tell me the background of the site? Why did you start it? What does it offer? Etc.?
How did they even find out about me? Was it through instagram? I replied to the email and told her she could call me for more information. When I woke up on Friday morning, the story was already posted and it was awesome, the headline and all the information in it really captured the mission of aisle 3. It was so cool to post and send the link to all my friends and family. I need to get the word out so I can grow my brand and spread the mission of Aisle 3 - engage users with fun, delicious, easy to prepare recipes that are faster and cheaper than take-out. shop for all your ingredients at 1 store – cook fun, family-friendly meals – eat together – share your meals with the one’s you love.
I got a decent amount of cooking in this week and am in the process of re-assessing the categories of sale items I post on my website. I was a little short in the pork and sausage categories so I made 2 dishes with each of them. On Thursday, much to Charlie’s delight, I made parmesan crusted pork chops, that are just another version of a cutlet, his favorite food. I served them with some cacio e pepe pasta, also a fav of Charlies and some oven roasted green beans that I tossed with my tomato vinaigrette. I posted the green beans this week and made them again on Tuesday, when my niece and her husband came for my Tuesday Night Dinner with Friends. They are my new favorite vegetable. I had to work at my part time job on Monday for a few hours between cooking and delivering food. I knew the work day would be quiet, so I brought lunch for everyone. I made a pasta e fagioli on Sunday and took that in, along with a fresh loaf of french bread from Calandra’s bakery. It was so delicious, made even better by the fact that I had cooked it the day before. Before I left for the office, I made the two dishes I would bring down to the family I feed. First I made a quick and easy honey-garlic shrimp that went together in 20 minutes. After that, I cooked some dijon pork chops that made my whole house smell amazing! The chops were covered in a sauce of shallots, white wine, chicken broth, heavy cream and dijon mustard, what wouldn’t taste good in that?
Sunday night I threw together a quick sausage and kale pizza, that once and for all confirmed my dislike for kale and the feeling that it is way overrated. To make this pizza the kale need to be boiled for 10-5 minutes, and when it was on the pizza it didn’t taste any different from spinach. When I post the recipe I will suggest using spinach instead and it would only need to be boiled for 2-3 minutes before using it as a topping or you could take frozen, drained spinach right from the container. I liked the pizza because it had a white sauce and no mozzarella cheese. It was different and tasty at the same time.
On Tuesday, my niece Monica and her husband Nick came for dinner after they were done working. I made a sausage carbonara with the green beans I mentioned above and some garlic knots. They came right from work and since it was a little too early to eat right away we had some wine and caught up. It was so fun to hang out with them and we ended the night with a dessert surprise baked apples and Nick got to take home the leftovers for lunch.
trust the timing of your life
focus on the present
do the best you can
spread kindness everywhere you go
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What I love at Trader Joe's
Week #23 – I went to Trader Joe's this week to do a little comparison shopping vs Aldi. The Trader Joe's in Clifton is the closest one to my house so that is where I went. First off I hate the parking lot and it is hard to get to the carts, so Aldi wins out on that respect. I find that most of the basic pantry staples at Trader Joe's are of a higher quality than those at Aldi and this is where I shop to stock my pantry. I started shopping at Trader Joe's when it opened in Wayne over 15 years ago just to get the coffee. Trader Joe's Bay Blend is my favorite and every time I try a new flavor, I end up coming back to the Bay Blend. I grind it there and the large can lasts about 6 weeks, which is how often I shop at Trader Joe's. I also love their tortillas, both the handmade flour tortillas and the hard taco shells, both are cheaper and better tasting than the ones found in the supermarkets. Trader Joe's is also known for their frozen foods and I’m not really a fan of frozen foods, but I do love all their frozen vegetables and they sell a package of organic pizza crusts that make an excellent quick dinner or snack of homemade pizza without the fuss of rolling out dough. Two frozen, thin crusts are in each package, individually wrapped and divided by a cardboard round that doubles as a pizza peel to slide the pizza into the oven. I almost always have pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese in my house and then we can top it with whatever I have around. The items that are a must buy at Trader Joe's are their organic low sodium chicken broth, julienned sun-dried tomatoes, sweet chili sauce, hot & sweet cherry peppers, balsamic glaze, blister peanuts, pita crackers and chips and all their spices, oils and vinegars. If you look through my recipes and pantry staples you will see this is where I buy most of my staple ingredients.
This week’s cooking included a patty melt that I served with bbq oven baked potato chips and a fudge ripple shake. It was a cool take on a diner classic and pretty quick to put together. I took two large potatoes and sliced them about ¼ inch thick and then tossed them with some olive oil and bbq spices and baked them at 425 degrees for 25 minutes. They were crispy and spicy and went well with the patty melts. The fudge ripple shakes were a result of Turkey Hill Ice Cream being on sale at Stop & Shop and there was no chocolate left, so I improvised and it was so much better than a plain chocolate shake. I will post that in the next few weeks.
My Valentine’s dinner was a brasciole that I made by pounding some thin steak and covering it in chopped garlic, parsley, locatelli cheese and slices of mozzarella. I was out of string to tie up the meat so I took apart a yoyo I had and used the string from it to keep the meat together as I browned it and later simmered it in a tomato sauce for several hours. I served it over pasta with a heart shaped loaf of bread from Nicolo’s. I picked up some rice balls that were so delicious from a new store I just read about called Uncle Giuseppe’s Marketplace in Ramsey. I’m going to review them in a few weeks and I can’t wait to go back and get the rice balls again. For dessert I made some homemade chocolate peanut butter cup ice cream. It was a nice meal and so fun to make.
I love to read recipes and menus and kept seeing a dish called bang bang shrimp that looked intriguing. I decided to put that together, along with some pan roasted chicken with bacon and leeks to deliver to the family I feed each week. Popcorn shrimp is baked in the oven until crisp and then tossed with my favorite Trader Joe's condiment, their sweet chili sauce, and some mayo and other ingredients to make a crunchy, spicy, sweet shrimp that is served in lettuce leaves and mocks the restaurant version so easily. The chicken I roasted was made in my cast iron skillet, browned in bacon fat on the stove top, finished in the oven and covered with a sauce made from stock and half and half. I dropped off both meals and drove off with a warm feeling of giving.
It’s so much easier to love something than to hate something
Love’s the easiest thing in the world
HATE TAKES ENERGY
LOVE GIVES VIBES
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Aldi and the stuff I love to buy there
This is going to be the first of a three-part series comparing Aldi and Trader Joe’s. They are my main outlets for staples in my pantry like olive oil, chicken broth, spices, nuts and all sorts of jarred and canned goods. Both are owned by Aldi a German discount supermarket chain with over 10,000 locations in 18 countries. By next year Aldi will have over 2,000 stores in the US and soon it’s major competitor, Lidl will start to open stores here too. They carry mostly their own private label and usually only one of each type of item. Most of their food is organic, like at Trader Joe's and they have a good selection of gluten free foods.
When you get to Aldi you need to remember to bring a quarter for the cart that will be returned to you when you put the cart back. This is one of Aldi’s many cost savings measures that keep their prices so low. They don’t have anyone to take care of the carts and the parking lot of the Bloomfield location is always immaculate and the carts are so easy to access and return. Also they don’t have bags so you either need to bring your own or buy bags from Aldi. Nice plastic bags with handles are 10 cents and large reusable bags are $1.00. Most of the time there is also only one cashier open so you need to be patient and wait in line. The stores are all small and only open from 9 to 9 so they keep operating costs lower and pass that savings onto the customer.
When I walk into the Aldi in Bloomfield the first thing I have to get are their oatmeal cookies. They are 95 cents and so good, kind of old fashioned like I use to eat when I was growing up. Aldi also carries an excellent selection of chocolate that is inexpensive and high quality and perfect for both eating and baking. Aldi is also famous for their strawberry prices. Foxy strawberries, the same brand in all the supermarkets are only $1.69 and sometime they are even cheaper! Grape tomatoes, on sale at the grocery store for 2/$5 and at Aldi they are $1.79 or less. But the main and sometimes only reason I take the trip to Aldi is for their heavy cream. At $1.69 it is a bargain not to be beaten by any other supermarket and worth the trip alone. All of their dairy products have a really long shelf life and are an awesome bargain.
I was obsessed with Aldi over the summer but became less enchanted with them after I purchased some of their crackers and nuts for my thanksgiving dinner. I usually buy those things at Trader Joes and thought I would try Aldi for them this year. Their nuts were not as fresh and flavorful and the crackers were not so exciting either. I love Trader Joe’s nuts and crackers and was really disappointed in the Aldi version. This is part of the reason I want to compare the two stores on both price and quality so I can update my pantry staple page.
My Tuesday night dinner with friends this week was for my Bradford mom’s group, a group of four of us whose oldest children started kindergarten together. Now they are all about to graduate from college and we still meet regularly to keep up with each other. At the last minute Susan couldn’t make it so it was just Linda, Debbie and I. I ended up saving and packing up both the dinner dessert leftovers and delivering them the next morning so she wouldn’t miss out. I made a recipe I had cut out from a magazine over 20 years ago. Chicken breasts, that I had the butcher cut in ½ so they cook faster, are stuffed with boursin cheese and roasted in a cast iron skillet. After they are done a quick sauce of wine, chicken broth and butter is whisked together in the skillet and poured over the cooked chicken. I served it with a rice pilaf with toasted pine nuts and carrots cooked with chicken broth and dill. The sauce and the chicken were so full of flavor with a crispy skin and melted cheese that permeates the meat. Debbie, an amazing baker, brought dessert…short cakes flecked with lemon zest topped with fruit macerated in sugar and hand-whipped cream. It was so good and the perfect way to end the meal.
Sunday I got out my deep fryer and made some wings for Charlie to take to the super bowl party he was going to. I’m still not sold on the deep fryer because it is sort of messy and the smell takes forever to get rid of. It was fun making them with him because he had to try every batch I made (about 8 batches total) alternating between the two sauces, classic hot wing and asian. They were the hit of the party and gone before the first half ended.
On Monday I made two delicious dishes that I brought downtown to the family I feed each week. I started with a pho chicken bowl that went together in 20 minutes. I took a container of low sodium chicken broth added a sliced 1-inch knob of ginger and a teaspoon of sugar. As the soup warmed on the stove, I shredded a rotisserie chicken I got on sale for $5 and added it to the broth. The chicken warms in the soup in less than 5 minutes and I served it topped with bean sprouts, sliced jalapeños, scallions, basil, sriracha and fish sauce. It was so warm and delicious and full of flavor. I also rubbed some chicken thighs with herb butter and roasted them on a sheet pan in the oven with garlic, onion and lemon. Scallions and grape tomatoes were added for the last 10 minutes and dinner was ready. As I dropped off the two dinners the boys who lived there came down the street to say hi and thank you and my soul was fed.
You say “life is not fair” while you’re eating your food, sipping a drink and reading tweets on your smartphone.
Think twice & be thankful
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6 meals this week!
Week #21: I started this week off with mini meatloaves that were so delicious and comforting on the cold Sunday night. I used my regular meatloaf recipe, but formed it into four mini loaves that I covered with sauce and baked with mini potatoes in the oven for 30 minutes. Each serving had all the great elements of an end cut, but was still really moist inside. The dinner was ready in 40 minutes and probable cost a little over $10 to make and it tasted just like a regular meatloaf recipe that bakes for an hour.
On Monday, I went into the office to find some paperwork and bring lunch for everyone. Before I made the commitment to bring lunch, I needed to try out the new recipe and make sure it came out OK. I made a spicy asian noodle and chicken salad the first thing in the morning and tasted it and it was amazing. The sauce was spicy and smooth and it was tossed with linguine, chicken, red pepper, carrots, scallions and cilantro. It was so fun to go in on a day off and see everyone enjoying the lunch I made. They were still eating it on Wednesday when I went in for my regular work day.
The two meals I made to donate this week were a garlic oregano chicken and bbq shrimp. They were both super easy and required only a few minutes to put together. The chicken breasts are simply placed in a baking dish and covered with a sauce that is made from butter, oregano, garlic and lemon and is poured over the chicken before baking. That and some pasta or rice to soak up the sauce along with a salad is a super easy meal that everyone will love. The bbq shrimp is even easier to make. I skewered the shrimp and grilled it while basting it with bbq sauce. Make mine or use your favorite store bought bbq sauce. After cooking, cleaning and working on Monday I still had time to invite my friend Linda over for some homemade pasta with a simple tomato sauce and fresh baked garlic knots. It ended up being really easy and fast to make with my pasta maker and it impressed everyone, including myself. By the end of the day on Monday I realized I had cooked 4 meals!
Tuesday, my night for dinner with friends, included one of my oldest friends, Heidi. It’s always so fun and easy to be around longtime friends. You just kind of slip into your old roles with each other and there is this comfortable feeling of knowing each other for so long. Heidi and I met in 5th grade and went to high school and college together. For that dinner I made a crispy garlic chicken with smashed potatoes and carrots with dill. For dessert I made some maple ice cream and Heidi brought biscotti that I have been having with my morning coffee. It was awesome to hang and eat and laugh, I can’t wait to do it again.
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Brother to Brother dinner & Costco rotisserie chicken
Week #20: Thursday, January 26, 2017. This was the week I made dinner for the Brother to Brother meeting and it kept me really busy. I started off by planning dessert. I usually make cupcakes and I wanted to theme them somehow and I found my inspiration on Pinterest for hot chocolate cupcakes. I then began my quest for the most essential ingredient, the marsh mallow bits. Luckily I didn’t have to search far, I got them at Target and they really made the cupcakes look like a cup of hot chocolate. I decided that the main dish would be a baked chicken alfredo pasta that I added spinach and grape tomatoes to. I roasted green beans in the oven and then tossed them in my tomato vinaigrette and chilled them. There was also a caesar salad and Nicolo’s French bread to go with it. Charlie and I stayed for a while so I could get some photos of the boys eating and enjoying themselves. I am so thrilled to be a part of this organization, they do a great job instilling character in the boys that participate.
On Saturday I went to Costco and got a rotisserie chicken for $5. I was determined to see how many meals I could get from it. When I brought it home it smelled so good in the car that Charlie immediately ate the wings and legs. I cooled the chicken in the refrigerator and then shredded all the meat. On Sunday I made BBQ chicken pizza that was awesome, with homemade BBQ sauce, red onion and cilantro. The next day I cut out round from flour tortillas and baked them on an upside down cupcake pan to form mini taco shells. I filled them with the shredded chicken that I spiced up with cumin and chili powder and some shredded cheese, salsa and guacamole. The third dish I got from the chicken was chicken quesadillas. I used the same spiced chicken as in the mini tacos and sandwiched it between monterey jack cheese and flour tortillas. The melted cheesy quesadillas were served with sour cream, cilantro, salsa and guacamole. So I got 3 family size meals and a single snack from the one $5 rotisserie chicken! Even with all that Mexican food, Charlie still chose Chipotle as our Wednesday night dinner date.
I am still using my pasta maker and have finally settled on the correct flour to use to make the best pasta. I got 00 flour after trying regular and semolina flour and found that the 00 flour is the lightest and makes the best pasta. I made spaghetti last week and served it with a simple tomato sauce and it was so light and delicious. After I realized how fast and easy it was to make pasta in one of these machines, I started looking at similar pasta machines available today. The Phillips Advance pasta maker seems to be the modern version of mine and it is expensive at $299, but if you thought you would use it, it’s totally worth it because it is very fast and easy to use and cleanup. I am happy to have rediscovered mine and I plan to use it and feature what I make here. Over the weekend I spent a little extra time in the kitchen testing and experimenting with new recipes. I made some raspberry jelly donut pancakes topped with powdered sugar that were amazing and satisfied my constant craving for jelly donuts. I also cleaned out the baking cabinet a little by whipping up some Butterfinger fudge. Tonight I was inspired by the movie Seems Like Old Times with Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase to create Aurora’s Chicken Pepperoni. It was prominently featured in the famous dinner party scene and I have wondered how is was made ever since. I have my own ideas on how it should be made and if it turns out good, look for a post and picture of it here next week.
The two meals I made to donate this week were tilapia in a lemon brown butter sauce and some pasta puttanesca. It was a gloomy, wet day on Monday and when I got to the house where I bring my dinners I saw the 2 young boys come to the door with big smiles on their faces as I gave them the food. It made my heart skip a beat to think that these two meals would provide a nice hot dinner for them and their family on a cold, rainy night. I was starting to doubt my ability to make a difference and that 20 second encounter on the porch totally changed my mood and outlook.
Positivity can help you:
& give the best of yourself to others
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tuscan ribollita-swedish meatballs-lemon chicken
Week #19: Thursday, January 19, 2017. I have been making a lot of changes to the website to make it more efficient, some you may notice and most you will not. I am also working on getting a social media intern from Montclair State and moving ahead to get a larger audience. I made two very similar dishes this week, Ralph’s sausage, escarole and beans for us to eat on Sunday while watching the football game and on Monday, I made a tuscan ribollita with sausage and kale. They were essentially the same, except for the amount of broth and the greens used. The ribollita is more of a soup and the escarole and beans is thicker and creamier. I also made swedish meatballs for the first time and they were easy and awesome. I took both the swedish meatballs and the ribollita down to donate to a family in town that needs some extra food. Both dishes were delicious, but carrying them in my car together has given it a funky smell and I need to get it cleaned today.
My Tuesday night dinner was scheduled with my mom’s group and at the last minute it got cancelled and I was left wondering what to do with the lemon chicken I was supposed to cook. On one hand, I could have frozen the chicken, but I needed to make the dish to post this week. I ended up texting the 2 girls I work with and telling them I would be bringing lunch for them to work on Wednesday and it worked out great. I packed them each 2 chicken breasts and some spinach with garlic and poured the lemon sauce over the top. When they heat it up in the microwave the whole office smelled great and they loved it! I rescheduled my mom’s dinner for February and moved on.
YOU’LL END UP UPSET IF YOU EXPECT PEOPLE WILL ALWAYS DO FOR YOU AS YOU DO FOR THEM.
NOT EVERYONE HAS THE SAME HEART AS YOU.
BE KIND ANYWAY!
shop cook eat love
chilidogs-chicken marsala-teriyaki chicken-buffalo shrimp
Week #18: Thursday, January 12, 2017. I’m trying out some titles at the top of my posts because it is supposed to increase my searches on google. I think the limit is 60 characters and it should be reflected in my post, so obviously those are some of the things I made this week. Last Friday I took an iPhone photography class at the Apple Store. I learned how to use some third party apps to edit and filter photos. Right now I use the VSCO cam with the C1 filter on most of my food posts. I have the IPhone 6 and I can’t wait until the iPhone 8 comes out because the camera is supposed to be awesome. On Saturday, there was a mildish snow storm that left me home bound with nothing to do but cook and shovel. I baked cupcakes, made caramel corn, cinnamon roll pancakes and pulled out my old pasta maker to make homemade rigatoni pomodoro. The machine I have is called a CTC pasta express where all you have to do is fill the enclosed cup with flour, add it to the machine and then add some eggs and water also measured in the same cup. The machine mixes the dough for 3-3 ½ minutes and then you flip the switch in the other direction and the pasta is extruded from the machine through anyone of the enclosed dies. This weekend I’m going to try homemade ravioli. On Sunday we had coney island chili dogs, a fire, the Giants game and the rest of the caramel corn. I used my mother-in-law’s chili recipe and spooned it over cheese topped hotdogs and topped them with some finely diced onions. Jack said they gave the hotdogs a nice kick.
On Monday I made both buffalo shrimp and teriyaki thighs to donate to some families that are food insecure. I took Jack with me so he could see where I go every week and get an idea of how good it makes me feel to be able to do this. The shrimp were spiced up with cayenne pepper and garlic and then cooked in a 450-degree oven on two hot cookie sheets. The shrimp cooks in their shells in less than five minutes and is then tossed with a buffalo sauce. The teriyaki chicken thighs are marinated in soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger and garlic at room temperature for ten minutes and them broiled and topped with sesame seeds. These came our great and were ready in 30 minutes.
For my Tuesday night dinner with friends, I had my friend Catherine over along with Jack’s girlfriend, Rachel. I made chicken marsala, which is Rachel’s favorite along with crunchified potatoes and lemony green beans. This was a delicious company worthy meal that can also be ready quickly, less than 40 minutes. I threw together a flat apple pie with a leftover pie crust I had in my refrigerator and 3 apples tossed with flour, sugar, and cinnamon. I baked it in the afternoon and threw it into the warm oven when the potatoes came out and it was perfectly warmed when dessert was served. My Tuesday calendar is filled for January, email me if you want to come for a dinner in February.
WORRYING DOESN’T TAKE AWAY TOMORROWS TROUBLES
IT TAKES AWAY TODAY’S PEACE
shop cook eat love
We used up the pulled pork last Thursday night in tacos that were so fresh and simple to make and tasted so good. I heated up the pulled pork in a pot and cut up some tomatoes, an onion, a jalapeño, some cilantro and limes and got a couple of avocados and threw together some pico de gallo and guacamole to go with them. I had a hard corn tortilla with shredded jack cheese that melted under the hot shredded pork and topped it off with pico de gallo and cilantro and it was amazing. My kids used both the hard and soft tortillas and we were all happy. Friday was Harry’s last night home and he loves linguine and clams. I got my friend and fellow shopping and cooking partner, Ralph to make his special linguine with white clam sauce. Before we started cooking I need to go the Costco Business Center, a hidden gem of cooking supplies in Hackensack, New Jersey. I was almost out of the to-go containers I use to donate my meals and they carry a great selection. I also picked up this awesome Chef Works Memphis Bib Apron for less than $18. It is so comfortable, it looks cool and it has a ton of great features like an adjustable neck strap, extra-long ties and tones of pockets, including one for your cell phone. We also had to go to the freezer section of Costco just so we could wear the orange coats they have there.
I picked up the clams for the dinner at the Shoprite in Nutley, my favorite Shoprite because it has a large selection of Italian products and even though the store is huge it still has a neighborhood feel. The clams were fresh in the seafood department for only $2.99 a dozen and they were all fresh a clean. Ralph also used Cento White Clam Sauce and Cento Clam Juice to give the sauce some substance. I fed 9 people for $40 and I got 5 dozen clams and two boxes of pasta and we had plenty of food.
On Monday I made stuffed zucchini and Portugese chicken to donate to a food insecure family. The zucchini is based on a recipe from Fran (Jack’s friend Anthony’s grandmother) who told it to me one-day last summer as we waited for the swim club to open. I swore I would make it for my website and I did and it was delicious. The zucchini was tender from baking in the oven and the hot sausage stuffing was spicy and satisfying, topped with tomato sauce and melted mozzarella cheese. The Portugese chicken was an easy hearty meal made with quartered-chicken breasts, braised in white wine and diced tomatoes with roasted peppers and prosciutto. After I delivered those meals I came home to use the last of my Jar Goods sauces, the Classic Vodka to make a drunken chicken parmesan. I made my regular chicken cutlets, which Charlie loves and topped them with melted mozzarella and set them on a bed of the vodka sauce alongside some rigatoni alla vodka made with the same sauce. This is also a quick and easy meal that is sure to please everyone.
Tuesday night’s dinner with friends included Jack’s two high school buddies, Jason and Ben. I wanted to remake the McRib I made when I first started cooking for the website and I didn’t take any pictures because I was just testing the recipe. The boys loved the McRib served on mozzarella topped garlic bread with a pineapple-chipotle BBQ sauce and spicy pickles. I also made some frozen french fries, cacio e pepe style with grated parmesan cheese and fresh ground pepper. The boys loved everything and were equally impressed when I served dessert, homemade coffee-heath bar crunch ice cream with a hot fudge sauce. Everyone went home happy and I got a few more instagram followers from their friends and family. I had just enough ice cream leftover to bring to my co-workers on Wednesday and I know I made Lori’s day because my coffee ice cream is her favorite. This weekend I will be re-designing my website to make it a little more efficient and friendly to a google search.
LIFE OFTEN LEADS US ON JOURNEYS WE WOULD NEVER GO ON IF IT WERE UP TO US
DON’T BE AFRAID
FIND THE LESSONS
TRUST THE JOURNEY
shop cook eat love
Week of Thursday, December 29, 2106
Wow, am I glad that the holidays are almost over! I love the month of December and all the buildup but once Christmas is over, I am ready to move on. I even took my tree down already. On Christmas eve I hosted 35 for dinner and it was so fun. I made filet of beef with scalloped potatoes, salad, roasted asparagus and dinner rolls from Nicolo’s. I also made a baked ziti with the classic red sauce from Jar Goods. Using a jar of sauce made the dish so quick and easy and the sauce was delicious! It was a lot easier than Thanksgiving and the cleanup was so quick. I got really nice gifts from my sister-in-law’s, including this awesome casserole dish with my website engraved on the side. I was so excited to get it that I used it twice on Christmas day. I made a baked challah french toast for breakfast and Martha Stewart’s mac and cheese to go with the pulled pork I made for dinner that night.
On Tuesday, my friend Lisa and her daughters came over for a visit and lunch. Her daughter Alexandra is a YouTube star and she filmed me using my new Cuisinart deep fryer that I got from my son Charlie for Christmas. We made homemade mozzarella sticks and fried chicken wings. I thought they both came out great, but it is still a messy project and It is probably something I will only pull out for special occasions. I would definitely make wings with the deep fryer again because it is faster and not any messier than making them in the oven. To make the mozzarella sticks I used cheese sticks and breaded them using flour-egg-panko & regular breadcrumbs and back in the eggs and breadcrumbs for a second time. I then froze them on a cookie sheet before frying them. They were nice and crunchy and the cheese was perfectly melted. The wings which took 13 minutes a batch to cook were crunchy on the outside and still juicy inside. I just dried them with paper towels and sprinkled them with salt & pepper before lowering them into the fryer. I made two different sauces, a buffalo sauce and an asian sauce. Everything was delicious, but the project left my house smelling like oil and not in a good way. Why is it after the holidays I always feel the need to purge all the junk food from my house?
IF THE GRASS LOOKS GREENER ON THE OTHER SIDE, IT MIGHT JUST BE LIFE REMINDING YOU TO WATER THE GRASS YOU’RE STANDING ON.
shop cook eat love
Week of Thursday: December 22, 2016
I started off this past week by baking an insane amount of Christmas cookies that I make to give out as gifts and to have for the holidays. I started off with a double batch of chocolate chip cookies and then made peanut butter kiss cookies and butter spritz cookies. The butter cookies are made with a cookie press and are my favorite of all, with a hit of almond extract that makes them extra rich. The next day I rolled out both sugar cookies and gingerbread men and decorated them with sugars, raisins and icing. My house smelled like the holidays from the gingerbread men and really got my spirits up. Target sells these awesome small gift bags with coordinating tissue paper that I buy every year to put the cookies in.
After I finished the cookies it was on to the next cooking project of the week, bee sting pizza. I got my first product to review and post from a company called Jar Goods. They make sauces in 3 flavors, classic red, classic vodka and classic spicy and I used the classic spicy to make a bee sting pizza. This is a pizza that was popularized by Roberta’s a pizza place in Brooklyn. It is made with spicy sauce, hot sopressata and drizzled with honey when it comes out of the oven. When I opened the jar of sauce I knew right away it was going to be good, it smelled awesome and looked so fresh. That night I had my nephew Sam up for dinner along with Jack’s friend Anthony, my favorite dinner guest. I made 2 other pizzas to feed everybody, a white pizza with arugula salad and a plain cheese pizza. Hands down, the bee sting pizza with the Jar Good’s classic spicy sauce was the best. That one disappeared first. I still have some sauce left and I will be making it again soon. I can’t wait to try the other flavors. I’m planning on using the classic red this weekend in a baked ziti I’m making for Christmas eve.
The meals I made to donate this week were a little out of my wheelhouse, but they both were delicious. I first made a greek shrimp dish that was served over rigatoni and next I made corn griddle cakes with sausage and orange-honey butter. As I cooked this I was not sure how it was going to turn out and when I tasted it, I was surprised at how good it was. The corn cakes were savory and when dipped in the sweet orange-honey butter they reminded me of an asian scallion pancake with duck sauce. I dropped the meals off and came home to start cooking for the brother to brother meeting the next night. It was a holiday meeting and I served roasted chicken, mac and cheese, roasted carrots and caesar salad. I also baked some holiday cupcakes for dessert. I purchased some really nice hats from Kohl’s for the boys and made gift bags with candy canes to hand out. There were some younger boys that were part of a new program, brother to brother, little brother and it was so nice to see the program expanding to include these kids.
After all that cooking and baking it was nice to go to work yesterday and to a fabulous holiday dinner party at Calandra’s Cucina. I’m off to Costco this afternoon to begin shopping for my next cooking adventure – Christmas eve dinner for 35. Happy Holidays everyone!
“THE FUTURE NEVER JUST HAPPENED. IT WAS CREATED.”
shop cook eat love
Week of Thursday: December 15, 2016
It’s getting a little busy around here as I get ready for Christmas and all the other cooking projects I am working on. I just keep on reminding myself that everything will get done no matter whether I stress over it or not. Harry is home this week so I made 2 of my website meals with him in mind. On Sunday I made easy cheesesteaks from sliced london broil and provolone from the deli. I put some slices of london broil in a small pan and covered it with 2 slices of provolone. I covered the pan and cooked it on low for 2 minutes and it was done! It is a great cheese steak that is way healthier than steak-ums, so much better tasting and just as fast! I ended up getting everything at Fairway, which is usually too expensive, but they make their own French bread that I got hot from the oven for $1.50 and the cold cuts were less than $10. I also made my first meal for the website that I didn’t love, hot chicken biscuits. They seemed like they would be good, a fried chicken cutlet basted with a hot oil and served on a biscuit with spicy pickles and honey. The problem was the chicken was dipped in a buttermilk and hot sauce and then in seasoned flour. The flour did not give the chicken a flavorful coating and next time I will probably use plain bread crumbs instead of the flour. It presented nicely, but no one in my family really liked it. On Monday I made a white chicken chili and smothered pork chops to donate to the family I bring food to. They both came out great and made my whole car smell fantastic as I delivered them.
Also on Monday I hosted a pasta party for the Montclair High Hockey Team, it was so fun! I made spaghetti with meatballs and sausage, bowtie pesto pasta with oven roasted tomatoes, fettuccine alfredo, baked ziti, homemade garlic knots, caesar salad and homemade ice cream sandwiches for dessert. I ad 30 kids at my house and they ate it all – 10 pounds of pasta! I love hosting the pasta party because I get to know the kids on the team and it so much more fun to watch the game that way. I laid out a giant beach towel in my front hall and everyone came in and took off their Timberlands and ate and played NHL 17 on the Xbox. I can’t wait to do it again next year!
Every day is another chance to be positive. Stop making excuses, and make a positive change. It will never happen unless you make it happen
shop cook eat love
Week of Thursday: December 8, 2016
This was a busy holiday week, getting ready for Christmas and my boys coming home. Harry comes home this weekend and Jack next week. My niece, Ali came for dinner on Tuesday and then with me to Charlie’s hockey game. We had chicken picatta with steamed spinach and cacio e pepe pasta – it was awesome! On Monday I made curried chicken with jasmine rice with raisins and toasted almonds. I also made a firecracker shrimp dish that was spicy and simple. I donated both of those meals along with the bolognese sauce I made for Sunday’s dinner. It’s such a nice feeling to pull up to the house where I’m bringing food and to have the family come out with a smile on their face as I deliver them the meals I made for them. This week I was having coffee with a friend who had just lost a good friend and was feeling down. I made her come with me to deliver the meals and it lifted her spirits too. After going out with the Munchmobile last week, I was watching intently to see who won the sub shop competition. I want to congratulate Pete Soriano of Andrea Salumeria for winning NJ Best Sub Shop, he was awesome and I'm so happy he won!
On Tuesday I was invited to speak at Bergen County Community College’s Hospitality club’s monthly meeting. It was an awesome group of kids and a great way for me to practice telling my story in front of other people. They really made me feel welcome, with posters on the bulletin boards, refreshments and a BCCC travel coffee mug. Everyone seemed to be very interested in what I had to say and they asked a lot of great questions. I have some big cooking projects coming up in the next few weeks, including a pasta party for the hockey team, a dinner for brother to brother and Christmas eve at my house. Look for lots of pictures and stories about the meals.
shop cook eat love
Week of Thursday: December 1, 2016
Today I fulfilled a bucket list item of mine and went out with Pete Genovese of the Munchmobile to help pick the best sub shop in New Jersey. I was chosen along with two others, Kelly and Mike, to try to influence Pete’s final decision. We had such an awesome time and were all so excited to have been picked. Our first stop was Fiore’s in Hoboken. On Thursdays the special sub at Fiore’s is their roast beef and fresh mozzarella. It was unbelievable, the meat melted in your mouth and had an amazing flavor. The bread was perfectly crunchy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside and the homemade mozzarella was warm and salty. I thought it was the best sandwich I had ever tasted in my life, until they brought out the Italian sub with hot peppers – it blew my mind! The meats were of the highest quality and the hot peppers took the sandwich to a new level. We also tasted the prosciutto with mozzarella and an Italian sub with marinated eggplant. They were all delicious and I am definitely going back with my sons when they come home for Christmas break. Next, Kelly, Mike and I piled into my car, listened to Howard Stern and drove to Jersey City to Andrea Salumeria. I fell in love with the place the second I walked in. The owner was the nicest guy and he knew every single one of his customers that walked in and treated them all like family. At Andrea we first sampled a sopressata and mozzarella with homemade sun-dried tomatoes. The olive oil from the sun-dried tomatoes made the sandwich pop in my mouth. Next was an Italian sub with mozzarella and homemade sun-dried red peppers that were as sweet as can be. By then I was so full, I had to pass on the tuna sub and took a tiny bite of the vegetarian sub with mozzarella and sun-dried tomatoes. Everything was so good, and all the ingredients were of the highest quality and very flavorful. Check out the winner live on nj.com December 7, 2016.
Earlier this week I made the two meals I donate to a food insecure family in my town. I first made chicken legs with a cilantro gremolata. The gremolata was just cilantro, limes and garlic minced together and poured over the cooked chicken legs. The second dish I made was a sautéed shrimp dish with garlic, lemons and old bay seasoning. It was so quick and easy to put together and it smelled delicious when it was done. I also put together a quick dinner of french bread pizzas made simply with a loaf of french bread, a can of pizza sauce, some mozzarella cheese and whatever toppings you like. On Tuesday I had my two sister-in-law’s over for chicken Milanese, cacio e pepe orzo and homemade maple ice cream. It was so fun and delicious. New this week is the addition of Foodtown to my website. I took Shaw’s off and added Foodtown on because it serves a larger market. A brand new Foodtown just opened across from the Bloomfield train station and it is a unique grocery store experience. They have parking in an attached garage that is validated if you spend over $20, a coffee bar and they offer you a free ride home with your groceries. The store has an industrial look to it with exposed ceilings and shelves that you can see over. I love the layout and the staff is very helpful and friendly. I am always looking to make changes to my website and the supermarkets I feature, so if you have any input feel free to email me with your thoughts at email@example.com
“If you can dream it, you can do it.”
shop cook eat love
Week of Thursday: November 24, 2016
I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving. I love Thanksgiving because it's a holiday that is centered around food and family, two things that are most important to me.
I love everything about Thanksgiving,
the table settings …
and my family…
I had 35 family members to my house yesterday and it was so fun to see all my nieces and nephews enjoying my food. I wish I had taken more pictures, but it is hard to enjoy everyone and take pictures at the same time. I have a couple of tips I learned this Thanksgiving from random things I heard on TV as I was getting ready. Every year plumbers are called more often on the day after Thanksgiving than on any other day because everyone pushes the limits of their drains as they clean up from Thanksgiving dinner. I decided to tackle this head on because I could see my sink wasn’t draining well as I prepared food over the week. I went out on Wednesday and bought a big jug of distilled white vinegar and a large box of baking soda. I put about a ½ cup of baking soda down my drain and slowly added the vinegar a little at a time until all the baking soda was dissolved. I then ran hot water for a minute and it was draining like new! It definitely made cleanup easier because nothing clogged the drain. The second tip is to let your turkey sit for 45 minutes to 1 hour covered in foil and it will always be moist. You can use that time to cook or heat up your side dishes and then everything will be ready at the same time.
This past Friday was one of my favorite days of the week. I went to the Shoprite in Nutley to buy all the ingredients to make homemade italian gravy. I picked up my friend Ralph, who knows the butcher there and after shopping he came to my house to teach me the art of homemade sauce.
First we browned in a lot of olive oil (“don’t be cheap with the olive oil”) a pork chop, a beef brasciole, a pork, brasciole, 2 large hot italian sausages and meatballs. In a separate pot we sautéed onion and garlic and added fresh parsley. Then we added a large can of Cento San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand. We added the browned meat and some spices and simmered it for a couple of hours. When my son Jack came home for Thanksgiving break with his roommate the house smelled amazing and I had a nice hot meal all ready to go. I also had plenty leftover to have again and to donate.
I was only able to cook 1 new meal for the website this week, mediteranean stuffed pork chops. I donated them and some of the italian gravy I made along with a box of pasta to a family in need of extra food. It is always the best part of my week. I am making some adjustments to the supermarket section of my website and have decided to take Shaw’s off and next week I will put Foodtown back on. The process of blogging needs to being flexible to accommodate change. If anyone out there reading this has any other supermarkets you would like featured, email me and let me know.
shop cook eat love
Week of Thursday: November 17, 2016
This has been a busy week of cooking and posting because I need to get ahead so I can take next week to cook Thanksgiving dinner for my family of 38! I will be making 2-17 lb turkeys and 2 turkey breasts along with 20 lbs of mashed potatoes, candied sweet potatoes, creamy-crunchy corn and a chocolate cream pie made from a recipe by my friend and neighbor John Frenzer. I am posting these recipes this week, along with my other new recipes and will post next week’s blog on Friday instead of Thursday. Next week I will post pictures from Thanksgiving along with my regular new meals for each supermarket.
Last Saturday night I had a dinner party because it was my friend Nicole’s birthday and our mutual friend Jorge was in town from Miami. I was inspired to have the party because I wanted to make the Sprinkle Cake from the New York Times and it looked fantastic. I ended up making the Magnolia Bakery yellow cake recipe and just used the icing and decorating idea from the Time’s recipe. Look how great it came out. I also made a cream of tomato soup, chicken marsala, lemony green beans and these individual scalloped potatoes. I took a couple of potatoes and peeled them and then sliced them on a mandolin. I stacked a handful of slices in cupcake tins and then topped them with some sliced scallions, shredded swiss cheese and a tablespoon of heavy cream. They baked in a 350-degree oven for about 45 minutes and they were unbelievable!
This week I went out with Officer Guthrie from the MPD and gave some meals to a new family that he felt could use the food. It was a thrill for me to go out with the community policing officer and watch him work. I could tell he really cared about the families in his precinct and knew exactly who would benefit the most. I made and delivered baked fish sticks from tilapia that was on sale and some panko bread crumbs. They came out perfectly cooked and even smelled like the fish sticks I remember from elementary school. I mixed together some ketchup, lemon juice, horseradish, salt & pepper and made a dipping sauce to go with the fish sticks. I also delivered cooked lemon-garlic chicken thighs that were broiled to a crispy perfection in less than 30 minutes.
On Sunday I toured Montclair State University with my nephew, Carter and sister-in-law, Anne and then had them back to my house for French-Dip Sandwiches. I took deli roast beef and made an au jus out of shallots, beef stock and beef consume. I dipped the roast beef in the hot gravy and put it over provolone cheese on a crusty roll. Carter ate two! I hope he ends up going there because I am so close and I could cook for him all the time. Later that night I made some homemade calzones from frozen pizza dough, my new obsession. I love to take frozen pizza dough, roll it into balls and place in it an oven proof dish. I then melt a ½ stick of butter with two Dorot frozen cubes of garlic and two of parsley. I pour the melted garlic-parsley-butter over the dough balls and bake them at 350-degrees for 20-30 minutes, until browned and crusty. They are like homemade garlic knots that take less than 10 minutes to make. Some of these recipes are posted now and some I have saved for future posts so look out for them.
This week my Tuesday night dinner with friends was on a Monday and I had My friend Vicky and her daughter, Emma over for pork tacos al pastor. I marinated pork in pineapple and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and then cooked them in a cast iron skillet until browned. Then I sautéed some diced white onions and added pineapple chunks. The pork was sweet and smoky and spicy. I served it with cilantro-lime rice, pico de gallo and guacamole and it was so good. I made surprise baked apples for dessert and they were awesome. I ended the week with a relaxing Reiki session because next week is an even bigger cooking week and I begin again tomorrow…
BE MORE CONCERNED WITH YOUR CHARACTER THAN YOUR REPUTATION
shop cook eat love
Week of Thursday: November 10, 2016
OK so I hope everybody noticed that I now have banner ads running on my site! I am so excited, I set a goal to have some sort of income by three months and here I am at week #9 and I was accepted in the Google AdSense program and I woke up on Wednesday to live ads. I have been listening to the food blogger pro podcast and working on an email campaign to help boost my traffic. I have also been handing out business cards to anyone who will pass them along. Last week I toured Syracuse University with my son and he loved it! We had an awesome tour guide named Alex who was celebrating his birthday by giving a tour, thanks again!
On Monday I cooked up some mustard herb chicken legs by basting the chicken with dijon mustard and coating it in seasoned panko bread crumbs. I then baked them on a rack over a sheet pan in a 450-degree oven until they were brown and crispy. The whole kitchen smelled wonderful! I also made a filet of flounder (and you could use any white fish here) in a lemon-caper butter sauce with steamed potatoes with butter and parsley and grape tomatoes with garlic and parsley. I donated those meals and will be posting them in the coming weeks.
This week I also made the two new pasta dishes that I posted. The pasta amatriciana was spicy with crushed red pepper and prosciutto (you could also sub bacon or pancetta) and pared well with the bucatini pasta I served. On election day I had my niece and her husband and two of my nephews up for bowtie chicken alfredo, an arugula salad and some garlic balls. I had some extra frozen pizza dough that I defrosted and rolled into small balls that I placed in a tiny cast iron skillet. Then I melted a ½ stick of butter with two Dorot cubes each of garlic and parsley. I poured it over the pizza dough balls and baked it in a 350-degree oven and they were awesome. I’m going to make sure I always have frozen pizza dough on hand will make them in place of bread with a pasta dinner. I also served homemade dulce de leche ice cream and my nephews went nuts for it. Another dessert I instagramed this week was a baked apple that I made and will post soon. I took 4 apples and cored them, but left the bottom intact. I then placed 1 Kraft caramel in each apple and filled them with a crumb topping made of butter, flour, cinnamon, salt and oats and then baked them in a dish with apple cider-they were unbelievable! The apple was perfectly soft, but not mushy and the caramel melted and tasted like a caramel apple and the apple cider became syrupy. I’m going to make it again this weekend, write up the recipe, photo it and post it!
shop cook eat love
Week of Thursday: November 3, 2016
What a big week both cooking and blog wise. The week started off with hosting the cross country team for a pasta party the night before their meet. I made baked ziti, spaghetti with meatballs and sausage and bowtie pasta alfredo. They ate everything! It was so fun to cook for them and to see them all enjoy it so much. I think I had about 40 kids here! This was also my week to cook for the Brother to Brother meeting and I was determined to see how inexpensively I could cook for. I went to Aldi to see if I could shop for everything there and I was able to get it all except for 2 jalapeño peppers! And I only paid $48 and I made this for 40 people:
Chipotle turkey chili with sour cream
Mexican tomato salad
This was my first meeting of the school year and it was so good to see everybody and to see how excited they were to eat the food I made. Feeding those boys feeds my soul. On Monday I had a guest chef over to help me make the sausage, escarole and beans, and it was one of the best things I have ever made! My friend Ralph came to help me make this dish because it is his specialty. We browned some hot sausage and then sautéed the onion and garlic. Next we added the beans and their broth, but separately along with some chicken broth and the cooked sausage. When this came to a simmer we added the escarole and some spices and let it simmer for 20 minutes. It was spicy and delicious! The other dish I made on Monday was a Cincinnati chili con carne over spaghetti with diced onions and cheddar cheese. The ground beef was cooked with cinnamon, allspice and cloves and it had a wonderful fall flavor. I packed up and donated those meals to a family in my community who really seems to appreciate it. Later that night I made booritos for dinner to celebrate halloween. They were awesome, with grilled chicken, cilantro-lime rice, black beans, guacamole and salsa. We had plenty of time to cook and eat them because we only had 4 trick-or-treaters! Now I have a whole bowl of tootsie pops leftover.
Yesterday was a really exciting day for me – I attended the Food Biz NJ Conference and met some amazing people. I saw and heard about some really interesting Ideas in the food business and was able to meet the CIO of Wakefern and the head of Goya Foods among so many other people. The breakout panel I went to at the end on trends, opportunities and challenges for food manufacturers was very informative. I really liked hearing from Carlos Vega from Jersey Italian Gravy because I love their pizza sauce! I also want to give a shoutout to Maddalenas Cheese Cake which was delicious and it is sold in selected ShopRite's. I was so fortunate to attend this conference and everyone I met seemed interested in my website.
Later this week I am going to start to post some photos from my week of cooking on this page. Here they are:
cross country pasta party
cross country pasta party
a cooking virgin's first meal
Watch my friend Jorge cook for the very first time! He followed my recipe for pasta carbonara and took photos as he went. He sent them to me and I was so proud, I turned them into a slide show and posted it
shop cook eat love
Week of Thursday: October 27, 2016
This week was really encouraging for me and my website. I got a lot of inquiries and interest from friends that I didn’t even know were aware of it. Next week is the NJ Food Biz conference in Somerset, NJ and I am really excited to make connections with some of the food company and supermarket executives that will be there. I have also been getting some nice responses on my instagram and twitter accounts.
On Monday I made caprese stuffed portobellos and arroz con pollo and delivered it to Mission Street. To make the meals, I got a 4-pack of the portobello mushrooms and cleaned the insides out with a spoon. I brushed them with garlic butter and filled them with some sliced grape tomatoes, topped them with sliced mozzarella and broiled them for 5-6 minutes. I then squeezed on some balsamic glaze and sprinkled them with basil and they were delicious. The arroz con pollo is a one pan dish that cooks up nicely by browning some chicken, adding the vegetables and broth and then the rice. The pan is covered and simmered for 20 minutes until the rice is cooked and then dinner is served! I feel very lucky that I found an outlet for my passions – cooking, supermarket shopping and tech, and I need the make a difference in my community by donating some of the food I prepare for this site. I know the family I give it to, needs it and really enjoys trying all the new meals I prepare.
For my Tuesday night dinner with friends this week I had Liz, Tom and Thomas over for asian chicken wings, jasmine rice with cashews and roasted broccoli and carrots. It was so delicious that we all just sat there and ate wings for a really long time. They were sweet and spicy and really addictive and we all could not stop eating them! I cooled things down with some homemade dulce de leche ice cream and ended my night with an affirmation from Socrates that a friend tagged me in.
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
Aisle3nj.com is my passion project that I am building for a new tomorrow!
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Week of Thursday: October 20, 2016
Wow, I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for 6 weeks already! I love the schedule I’ve set out for myself and am getting faster at going through the supermarket ads and choosing what to post each week. It is like a puzzle that I have to fit the pieces into. This Tuesday I had my friend Frank over for dinner and he chose a meal of pork francaise, cacio e pepe orzo and an escarole salad. It is my son Charlie’s favorite meal, but I was a little nervous cooking for Frank because he owns 2 award winning restaurants in New Brunswick – Catherine Lombardi’s and Stage Left. I think he was psyched to get a home cooked meal for a change and I also made some pumpkin ice cream for dessert. I got the eggs, sugar, pumpkin and heavy cream at Aldi and was able to make homemade ice cream for less than packaged ice cream! Aldi is my new obsession; I will drive there just to get heavy cream because it is so cheap.
The two meals that I made and delivered to food insecure families in my town included acorn squash, baked and stuffed with sausage, kale and onion and shrimp and grits. The squash was baked for 25 minutes in the oven and then filled with sausage that was sautéed with onions and kale. Then it was topped with a parmesan cheese-breadcrumb mixture and broiled for two minutes until browned, they photographed beautifully and will be featured soon. The shrimp was sautéed with bacon, scallions and lemon zest and spooned over grits cooked with butter and white cheddar cheese. It is instagramed as a slide show set to music from the grateful dead. I was also able to recreate a chicken murphy dish I loved as a teenager from an italian restaurant in Bound Brook, NJ that no longer exists. It is chicken cooked with peppers and onions and hot cherry peppers in a parmesan cheese sauce. It came out exactly as I remembered it and it was so good! It is featured this week so try it out and let me know what you think.
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Week of Thursday: October 13, 2016
I was able to resume my Tuesday night dinner with friends this week because my son Charlie no longer has cross country meets on Tuesdays. Pat, Terri and their son PJ came over and I made bbq chicken with smashed potatoes and carrots cooked in chicken broth with dill. The chicken and the potatoes cook in a 400-degree oven for 25 minutes and then are finished off under the broiler to crisp things up. It takes only about 5 minutes to put it all together and you can whip up a quick bbq sauce while it cooks or use any jarred bbq sauce. I also made my favorite brownies from the Fat Witch Bakery for dessert and they were awesome!
I delivered 2 meals this week to some local food insecure families. I made tortellini with spinach, garlic and tomatoes and a baked fish and chips dinner. The spinach, tomatoes and garlic are steamed in chicken broth and tossed with tortellini and some parmesan cheese and my house smelled so good all day! The baked fish and chips were made with tilapia that was dipped in a dijon mustard sauce and then panko bread crumbs and baked until crisp along with the fries(chips). I would also like to give a shout out to Jersey Italian Gravy and their pizza sauce that I was able to track down at Bed Bath and Beyond to make an awesome sausage pizza! I would love to partner with them on a future post.
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Week of Thursday: October 6, 2016
This past Sunday was Rosh Hashanah and I used the opportunity to feed my family with a recipe for aisle3nj.com, I made oven fried chicken with mashed potatoes and creamy, crunchy corn for dinner after the matzoh ball soup. For the first time, I bought some chicken fat in a can to use in my matzoh balls, but realized I only needed a small amount. Instead of using butter in the pan to cook the chicken, I used the leftover chicken fat and OMG it was so good! I’ll post this recipe in the next few weeks. I also made some tacos with ground chicken to celebrate national taco day last Tuesday. I made a sauce of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, red onion, canola oil and some spices and added it to the browned chicken to simmer for a few minutes. They were so fast and delicious; you could have them ready in 15 minutes!
This week I made and delivered to food insecure families some stir fried pork and pineapple and chicken in a honey mustard sauce, that is featured this week on aisle3nj.com. It is a good feeling when I drop off the food and the families come out to tell me they loved the shrimp scampi from last week. I’m always eager to hear how they liked what I made. I had the opportunity to attend a food blogging conference last Friday called TechMunch. It was an awesome experience that I hope will take this blog to the next level. There were panels on food photography, working with brands, the state of online influence and many others. A shout out to @bakespace for putting it all together
The more I can make the more I can give.
shop cook eat love
Week of Thursday: September 29, 2016
On Monday I made 3 meals that I delivered to some local families that don’t have enough to eat. This week I prepared and dropped off shrimp scampi over linguini, rosemary and thyme roasted chicken and teriyaki glazed meatballs with an asian slaw. I also made sesame chicken for my family that I served with steamed broccoli and rice and is featured this week.
To make the rosemary and thyme roasted chicken this week, I needed to use an oven stuffer roaster because it was on sale for only $8. I asked the butcher to cut it for me in 10 pieces (2 legs, 2 wings, 2 thighs and 2 breasts cut in ½) so the chicken could cook in less than 40 minutes. Not only was the butcher happy to cut it for me, he wrapped all the scraps up too so I could use the insides and the back and neck to make soup this weekend for Rosh Hashanah. One of the keys to making chicken cheaper and in less time is to get the butcher to cut it for you. They are mostly happy to do it and it’s free!
shop cook eat love
Week of Thursday: September 22, 2016
Week number 2 went very smoothly, cooking for the website, donating food and sharing meals with friends and family. I love the way my week is set up, every Monday I cook for the website in the morning and donate 3 meals to families in Montclair. It is a great way to start the week! On Tuesdays, I enter all the recipes, pictures and slide shows and on Thursdays I post to the website. Thursdays are the most challenging, I have to figure out what recipes to post for each supermarket as I read the ads that are delivered with my morning paper. I want to post 4 new meals each week and have to fit what is on sale with my available recipes.
This week when I went to deliver food to the apartment building I went to last week, a young woman stuck her head out the window to say she would be right down because she loved what I had made for her last week and was excited to see what I had for them this week. I made them a beef and bean taco casserole and pasta with pesto, peas and potatoes, both of which will be featured on aisle3nj.com in the coming weeks. I also delivered a tray of smoked sausage jambalaya that is a featured recipe this week. The young man I gave it to is a culinary student who was excited to try this new dish and I hope you like it too!
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Week of Thursday: September 15, 2016
This week is my first post. Each Thursday aisle3nj.com is updated with what’s on sale for the coming week along with 4 new recipes. On Mondays all the meals that are cooked for aisle3nj.com are donated to families that are food insecure in Montclair and I am blessed with the good feeling of preparing and donating these meals each week.
In week 1 of cooking for aisle3nj.com, I was able to make all four meals in less than 3 hours. I packaged all the food up into to-go containers and delivered it to 4 separate families in town. I want to thank my friend Alex and Officer Guthrie from the MPD for making sure the food I made was delivered to the people that need it the most. I hope to be able to continue to deliver 3-4 meals each week.
In addition to the regular schedule of cooking for the website I also hosted a lite launch party for some girlfriends from my swim club last Friday night. I made 3 recipes that will soon appear on aisle3nj.com. I ended up making 2 separate shrimp dishes – shrimp ceviche and shrimp steamed in beer. My friends went crazy for both and I know they will make them again! I also made some chicken pineapple quesadillas with my homemade bbq sauce that were awesome and are featured this week. The shrimp creole and spicy chicken legs are 2 of the meals I made to donate and are posted to make this coming week. Make any or all of the featured meals this week and email me and let me know how you liked them!
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