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You’re going to want to “catch” this fresh green sauce, so I’m suggesting you use fusilli because the sauce will cling to the ridges in the spiral cut pasta.  This is a quick and easy weeknight dinner, the whole process should take about 35 minutes!  Orrechiette or penne rigate would also work well.

Photo from Martha Stewart EveryDay Food

Photo from Martha Stewart EveryDay Food

INGREDIENTS:

1 bunch spinach (about 1 lb) trimmed and washed

3/4 cup walnuts, toasted

3 TBS EV olive oil

1 TBS finely grated lemon zest

coarse salt and ground pepper

1 lb fusilli

1/4 cup shaved pecorino cheese (1 oz) for serving

DIRECTIONS:

Add spinach and 1 TBS water to a large skillet set over medium-high.  Cook, stirring constantly, until spinach is wilted, about 3 minutes.  In a food processor, combine spinach, walnuts, oil and lemon zest.  Process until mixture forms a smooth paste, scraping down bowl as needed.  Season with salt and pepper.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente.  Reserve 2 cups pasta water; drain pasta.  Return pasta to pot and add pesto, tossing to combine and adding enough pasta water to create a sauce that coats pasta.  Transfer to a serving plate, top with pecorino, and serve immediately.

Recipe from Martha Stewart’s EveryDay Food March 2011

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April 2, 2014 is

National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day

It’s National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day! Did you know that the average American consumes 1,500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches by the age of 18? The combination of sweet jelly and salty peanut butter has been a staple in school lunchboxes for over fifty years.

According to one story, American soldiers invented the peanut butter and jelly sandwich during World War II. They decided to combine their bread, jelly, and peanut butter rations into a fabulous new treat. When the soldiers returned home after the war, peanut butter and jelly sales soared.

To celebrate National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day, make this iconic American sandwich for lunch!

April is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month & National Grilled Cheese Month.

 

My Favorite Sandwich

My Favorite Sandwich

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 Yesterday I posted my own first round picks and then picked my winners for Round 2 and  today we  are headed to Round 3. I found out that I could put a POLL on my blog which makes it oh so easy for you to vote (filling in the brackets) and you don’t need to send in a comment or make a copy of the bracket to work on. JUST answer the question as to what cake or pie will make it to Round 3.  I’ve put in my winners  and now it’s up to you to pick from those choices to see who will go to the Regional Semi-Finals.  Please VOTE.

Round 2 and heading for the Regional Semi-Finals

Round 2 and heading for the Regional Semi-Finals

 Here’s how: For example the first two choices are EITHER Birthday Cake or Coffee Cake, the last two are Strawberry Rhubarb Pie or Cherry Pie – PICK ONEthe choices are grouped in two’s and you can see the pairs on the bracket; Remember yesterday I picked these winners out of Round 1 and posted them in the blog because I can’t actually write on the photo of the bracket. 

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The Big Cheese

The Big Cheese

At first I thought it was just this forever-long, forever-cold winter that is drawing me to all kinds of dishes that could fall into the comfort food category.  Possibly, and the fact that biologically we are inclined to eat more calories in order to burn them for fuel and body heat.  And then I looked again at this recipe and imagined sitting on my front porch in Ocean Grove with a couple of friends on a midsummer’s eve sipping wine and munching on this savory bread appetizer.

Monkey bread, also called monkey puzzle bread, sticky bread, African coffee cake, golden crown, pinch-me cake, pluck-it cake, bubbleloaf and monkey brains is a sweet, sticky, gooey pastry served in the United States for breakfast. It consists of pieces of soft bread with cinnamon sprinkled on it. It is served at fairs and other parks as a treat. But now it’s Lent and I’m off sweets for the next few weeks.  I discovered a savory version and I think you’ll like it.

THE BIG CHEESE

It’s Time To Rethink Monkey Bread

1 loaf unsliced bread

1 cup pesto

12 oz mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced

Kosher salt

Ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350° – Line a baking sheet with parchment paper

Prepare the bread: Score the bread lengthwise.  To do this, slice the bread as you would for toast, but don’t cut all the way down to the base of the loaf.  The idea is to keep the bread in a loaf shape and fully intact.  Repeat this scoring across the width of the loaf.  You will end up with what looks like squares of bread.

Use a spatula or butter knife to spread pesto in the crevices of the bread.  No need to be precise-just get a good slathering in there.

Next, place mozzarella slices inside the crevices, wedging them  in so that they don’t stick out too far at the top (you want all that gooeyness inside the bread and off your pan).

Transfer the loaf to the prepared baking sheet and bake till pesto bubbles and cheese melts – 15-17 minutes. 

Serve warm.

Recipe from PureWow.com

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I have a collection (okay you’re not surprised) of vintage Valentine cards.  My boyfriend and then husband has been buying them for me over the years.  I LOVE vintage Valentines;  I treasure the ones from the turn of the century, however, the funny and clever cards we exchanged in grammar (yes grammar not elementary) school are among my favorites.  Two years ago I posted some of those from the 50’s in a blog post: Valentine’s Day Cards – A Look Back in Time and last year was a mix of both eras: Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue, Happy Valentine’s Day To You!

Today I received this adorable card…

AND he personalized it too!

AND he personalized it too!

I have a few of the famous “Tuck” cards.  These cards are highly-valued and come from Germany.  The are articulated with arms and legs movable.  A couple of them still have the string hanging that  moves their limbs.

Look he's holding a pretzel and a bratwurst!

Look he’s holding a pretzel and a bratwurst!

A German Brown Bear

A German Brown Bear

Love the stockings!

Love the stockings!

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY TO ALL

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YES this is one of those ONLY IN NEW YORK experiences!  Every year I look forward to February….no I don’t love the gray days, or the ice and snow piled up at the bus stops, or the black slimy slush on the subway stairs.  BUT February brings City Bakery’s Annual Hot Chocolate Festival.  

Every day of the month, St. Maury Rubin (not to be confused with St. Valentine who only has one feast day) celebrates February with a different delicious blend of his famous hot chocolate every day.  I really don’t have the words to describe this liquid orgasmic treat.  It’s creamy, feels thick in your mouth, the hot steam sends chocolate thrills up your nose while a smooth molten very chocolatey, chocolate slithers down your throat.  I swear my eyes roll back in my head when I drink, no sip, this heavenly concoction.

See for yourself just what can be had this month! 

Oh Heavenly Days!

Oh Heavenly Days!

Once a chocoholic, kind of a hard to get over this particular addiction since the only 12 Step Program I know goes like this: “Never Be More Than 12 Steps Away From Chocolate”.  In 2012 I posted this: HOT CHOCOLATE on Steroids!

I’m not alone in my devotion to the February rite of steaming delight – No, City Bakery’s Hot Chocolate has a cult following.  This year I noted that another blogger who I follow, FOOD BY SKYLAR, posted an homage to City Bakery and Maury’s Hot Chocolate and I am adding the link to her blog post below.  Maybe I’ll run into her on Malted  Milk Hot Chocolate day! A Hot Chocolate a Day Makes February the Best Month Ever

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English: A man sleeping on the street of The B...

A man sleeping on the street of The Bowery in Manhattan. The sign is for luxury condos. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are worse places to be homeless, cold and hungry than New York.  While it’s true that the City has thousands of homeless, we also have hundreds of soup kitchens and shelters.  On the coldest of nights the Department of Homeless Services sends out vans seeking homeless on the streets and offering to take them to a shelter.  A surprising number refuse assistance preferring to spend nights on subway platforms, in Penn Station or the Port Authority.  

However, on a cold February night, a hot meal can be very inviting.  Every Saturday night, Holy Trinity Church on the Upper East Side feeds anywhere from 100 to 150 homeless or near homeless men and women a delicious hot meal.  I’m not a member of this congregation but I admire their commitment to the neighborhood so much that I try to support their programs.  I’ve been to a couple of their fund-raisers and today I volunteered to work in the soup kitchen. You can learn more about all that they do at https://www.facebook.com/groups/542527365780030/ which is the Holy Trinity Neighborhood Center Facebook page.

This is the second time I’ve done this and it is quite an experience.  I wonder who and how many people does it take just to organize such an undertaking?  Where does the all the food come from?  How do these volunteers know how to prepare and cook for so many people?  Where do all the volunteers come from?  Today there were many high school kids working with a couple of their mothers.  I just strolled over and announced I was here to help.

My first task was to cut up loaves of bread and fill bread baskets.  Thankfully, the church has reached out to local merchants such as Eli’s Bread which is located nearby.  Eli Zabar makes great bread and apparently donates a LOT of bread.  Even after filling 18 baskets, there were many loaves left over.  Then I helped set the tables.  There were 17 tables set for six people each.  I folded napkins and some of the kids put them out along with the silverware.  I couldn’t help myself – I told one of the girls that the folded edge of the napkin had to be facing the dish and that the knives should have the serrated edge facing the plate.  I think they thought I was a bit OCD – of course they’re right BUT I also think that there is no reason not to have the table set properly.

The people who come to eat are treated with great respect by everyone and in return we are rewarded with many sincere “thank-you’s” and compliments about the food.  The men and women who come are not all homeless  but all are in need.  Tonight, because it was so cold out, many of them kept their coats on, some shed three and four layers of sweaters and jackets.  

This evening the meal was shredded chicken breast served over rice and with fresh broccoli, carrots, onions and red peppers in a light soy sauce.  Many of the volunteers are regulars and they set about cooking the chicken breasts, steaming the vegetables…things just kept humming along.  

Dinner was served around 5:15 and there is a huge core regular “guests”.  I can’t remember when I last volunteered but it was many months ago and I recognized several of the diners.  As soon as they sat down, they dove into the bread and we poured coffee.  I noted how many only wanted a half a cup – because they fill the rest of the cup with half and half and at least 5 people asked me if I could find real sugar;  They didn’t want the Sweet and Low.   Along with their plate of food which is served to each person, dessert was also served.  Chocolate cheese cakes and mini cupcakes and since Valentine’s Day is coming up, each place setting had a York peppermint heart and a Dove chocolate heart.  

The cold actually kept people away or perhaps they were ensconced in some shelter for the night because we served slightly less than 100 people and had a lot of food left over.  Seconds were offered and the line was long.  Some of the men and women had containers with them and they stashed away bread, butter, food and dessert.  I watched men put bread in their pockets.  The people who come to Holy Trinity on a Saturday night are very appreciative of the meal  and the work that goes into serving them.  Everyone was very polite and said thank you even when you just refilled their coffee cup.  

We made up 12 plates, a basket of bread and desserts for the twelve people who are registered and allowed to spend the night in church basement.  Holy Trinity is such an integral part of the community!  Every Tuesday afternoon, they feed the elderly in the neighborhood a lovely lunch.  All are welcome, no questions are asked and the occasion provides much-needed socialization for some in the neighborhood who don’t get out much and don’t have family watching over them.

I’m so glad I went this evening;  It helps me put my life in perspective.  I went because I made a commitment to myself that this year  I would:  “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”  Actually that quote from John Wesley was posted by my friend Dave Liston who is very involved with Holy Trinity’s Neighborhood Center programs. I read it and it just got to me.  I’m trying  anyway!

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