Weekend Fun in Pictures And A Family Picnic

My weekends usually involve a lot of cooking, cleaning, gardening, and more cooking and cleaning. Gone are the days of lazily lying in the Palm Beach sun enjoying a orange frosty thing from 7-11 with grey goose added in. Oh yes, those days are GONE!

Olivia is the 3rd from the left!

Olivia is the 3rd from the left!

 

My sister Becky and Newphew Connor, heading up to the picnic!

My sister Becky and Newphew Connor, heading up to the picnic!

Lucky for me, I still enjoy myself,  it is just in a different way.  This weekened however, was busier than most. Saturday was a really busy day for me. First thing in the morning we had my niece Olivia’s preschool graduation! Can you believe it? She graduated preschool already!! How crazy is that?  Seems like I was just holding her in the hospital…. 🙂

How adorable is my neice Taylor?

How adorable is my niece Taylor?

Uncle Chris and Taylor building sand castles

Uncle Chris and Taylor building sand castles

 

After that we headed up to lake taghkanic state park with my sister and brother in law for a family picnic. We rode up in their camper, which makes for a great way to travel!  It was a beautiful ride and a beautiful day. We really lucked out weather wise.  Not too hot with a nice breeze.  Tons of delicious food, and I got to see  my cousins who I rarely ever see becuase they live down south.  It was a great day over all!  By the time the day was over and we were home it was time for bed. (and my phone died lol)

MY sister Becky and I

MY sister Becky and I

Sunday was a day for working in the garden. I planted some more flower seeds and pulled weeds; not exactly glamorous, but it’s needed! (No cicadas at my house yet, thank heavens! ) Also I got my first strawberry this weekend, yay!!! It was SO delicious! Really flavorful and ecellent! The cucumbers are growing well and zucchini is just starting to sprout. Broccoli is also sprouting now! Pretty much everything is up and going besides the green beans and fall squashes. I’m ok with that, everything has it’s own timing.  🙂

Connor Cuteness!

Connor Cuteness!

 

The Lake

The Lake

How was your weekend? Was the weather nice where you live? Did you make anything good to eat? I would love to hear about it!

First Strawberry from my garden!

First Strawberry from my garden!

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Memorial Weekend Recap

I apologize for the delay, it was indeed a rather busy weekend here; as I am sure it was for you too! It was supposed to be my little mini vacation… but due to freezing temperatures, I headed home early.  It was the first time EVER I left he cabin early. Can you believe it?!  Saturday morning we could see our breath, and we knew it was time to pack it up and head home.

Rainy and dreary at the cabin

Rainy and dreary at the cabin

Snuggled up!

Snuggled up!

Thankfully by Saturday morning, I had already been to my favorite place in the world, The Chocolate Mill Cafe, in Glens Falls NY.  Words cannot express how much I love it there; and not just because I get to see my friend and former CIA Baking & Pastry Chef Instructor Frank Vollkommer (who is also a Certified Master Pastry Chef and Owner) but because it is truly one of the most delicious places to go.  I am deadly serious,  if you EVER go to Saratoga or Glens Falls or Lake George, or anywhere exit 10 and higher on the Northway, it would be a disservice to yourself and your tastebuds to not stop in and pick up for a cup of coffee (the best in the area) and some treats.  Their Croissants are like no other, the Raspberry Crumble Bars will rock your world, oh the bon bons are divinely inspired, and I won’t even get started on the individual desserts, they are mind blowing!!

Yes, I got 3 desserts from The Chocolate Mill Cafe

Yes, I got 3 desserts from The Chocolate Mill Cafe

A view of the case ( I was trying to be polite and not use my flash)

A view of the case ( I was trying to be polite and not use my flash)

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Coconut and Raspberry Bon bons!

Strawberry dessert from Chocolate Mill Cafe

Strawberry dessert from Chocolate Mill Cafe

Raspberry Crumble Bar, one of my favorites

Raspberry Crumble Bar, one of my favorites

I might have gotten a little carried away with the dessert pictures.  But I REALLY love everything from The Chocolate Mill Cafe and wanted to show you everything I tried.  They also have a great breakfast and lunch menu as well, check out their website for more info!  I need to stop staring at these pictures, because I already want to go back up, and I can’t this weekend.  But maybe next….?

On the bright side I got a lot of gardening done Saturday and Sunday and Monday morning, and then went to a family BBQ Monday and I got to see my brother who came into town for a visit.

The peas, beets, carrots and cucumbers are sprouting, the lettuce is being harvested daily, the strawberries are green and growing;  it is sure to be a great season in the garden. I am still waiting on the green beans, corn and zucchini to sprout.  I went all out this year and planted broccoli.  I have it in the front of the house as to keep it away from the Tomatoes since it does attract the Tomato HornWorm.  Nevertheless I am going full speed ahead with it!

So that’s about it. I went away, played a lot pf Phase 10, got some really tasty treats, gardened A LOT, and then had a BBQ  with family.  How was your Memorial Day weekend?

My favorite way to pass the time!

My favorite way to pass the time!

 

Sriracha Potato Salad with Bacon and Scallions

Sriracha Potato Salad with Bacon and Scallions

I love Sriracha mayo for my fries, wouldn’t it be equally good as a potato salad? I have been wanting to make this salad for a while, I had never heard of such a thing but I figured it would have to be good.  So I started formulating this in my head, and finally brought it to fruition in bright reality and bold flavors.  One thing that always used to  bother me about potato salad is that it was  too much bland potato, big pieces of potato with only a small amount of dressing, it made no sense. Cutting the pieces smaller certainly would not  work, they would boil away to nothing; but slightly mashing them, now that would be perfect!  That is how I make all my potato salads now, and each time is perfection.  (except crack salad, I go traditional cuts for that because my friend Jenn would kill me if I changed her recipe)

Siracha Potato Salad with Bacon and Scallions

Sriracha Potato Salad with Bacon and Scallions

 

This is GOOD, real good. I tried making it two ways with the bacon, and without the bacon for my vegetarian friends, and  it was delicious both ways.  When making without the bacon I used an additional scallion.  Really, seriously either way, it’s amazing! And since it has bacon in it, that makes it acceptable for breakfast, right?  I kind of want to put a fried egg on top, am I crazy?

Seriously, this Potato Salad is good!

Seriously, this Potato Salad is good!

Potatoes before and after cooking

Potatoes before and after cooking

This will tantalize your taste buds in a way you never thought potato salad would. It has just the right amount of sriracha so that it won’t burn your mouth off or any other part of your body.  Although I wouldn’t recommend it for babies, it would be fine for adventurous teenagers.  😉

Scallions halved lengthwise, and bacon ready for a paper towel

Scallions halved lengthwise, and bacon ready for a paper towel

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 24oz (1lb  9oz) small red potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt (for the water)
  • 1/2 lb bacon
  • 8 oz mayo (about 1cup)
  • 3oz sour cream (about 1/4 of a cup)
  • 1/2 oz sriracha (a tablespoon or two)
  • 2 large scallions or 3 if omitting the bacon (If using medium scallions use 3, if small use 4)
  • A generous pinch of ground pepper

Method:

  • Make your bacon ahead of time (350 oven for about 20 minutes or till done, I like mine extra crispy) and drained on a paper towel (save the grease in a cup in the fridge of course)
  • Wash the potatoes and leave whole, if some  are strikingly bigger than the others, cut those in half so that they cook evenly
  • Place in a good size pot, add the 2 tablespoons salt and cover with about 4-5 inches of water
  • Cover the pan with a lid, turn on high, set the timer for 25minutes
  • The potatoes will come to a boil, let them cook at that covered boil till the timer rings. You may need to adjust the heat to medium/high depending on your stove.  Again just let them boil covered, no need to stir. I start the timer from when I turn the burner on, and this always works for me.  If you want to test for doneness, pierce a potato with a knife, if should slip off easily.
  • Drain the potatoes, place in a good strong bowl, and lightly mash with a potato masher, allow to cool a bit
  • In a separate bowl, weigh the mayo, sour cream and sriracha, add the pepper and whisk together
  • Half the scallions lengthwise down and finely chop
  • Crumble the bacon (maybe eat a piece or two, you know, for quality control)
  • Pour the sriracha mix over the potatoes (make sure to scrape the bowl with a good rubber scraper to get every morsel of deliciousness)
  • Toss in the scallions and bacon, and mix together using the rubber spatula and a folding motion
  • That is it, your done! Stick in a spoon in the amazing sriracha potato salad you just made, and eat up!
Ready to enjoy!

Ready to enjoy!

Classic Macaroni Salad, just like Grandma used to make!

Classic Macaroni Salad, just like Grandma used to make!

Classic Macaroni Salad

Classic Macaroni Salad

Sunday I had the pleasure of attending a Goddess Girl Event in High Falls, and wow, I am speechless, it was fantastic! Goddess Girl Events are an amazing day of pampering, luxury and bliss all put on by Tamme Stitt Photography; along with Christene Spiezio, LMTGina Truhe Make Up, and Hair by Adrienne Nixon, these women wow’d me big time!! I have never felt so beautiful and so pampered! Everyone needs to experience a day like that!

This is me! All done up and heading home :-)

This is me! All done up and heading home 🙂

After my morning of amazingness, I went home, aka back to reality.  Mister Chris had requested burgers and potatoes for dinner.  Honestly I wasn’t in the mood for potatoes; Margaritas on the beach sounded MUCH better. Le sigh, reality always wins.  But I still didn’t want potatoes. I scanned the kitchen, “what can I make, what can I make, what can I make…..”, and then it hit me, I haven’t made macaroni salad in FOREVER! It’s quick, easy, and I already had all the ingredients right there in my kitchen, and let’s be honest, nothing beats not having to go back out to the store!  I made it just like my Grandma used to make it, no deviations! I wanted to add some pickles but I decided to really keep it classic and use just the juice.  Give this a try when you need a quick side or a dish for a BBQ or picnic. It is a sure fire crowd pleaser!

In the making, not exactly picturesque.

In the making, not exactly picturesque.

Recipe:

  • 1/2lb Elbow Macaroni
  • 3 Hard Boiled Eggs (see here for how to make perfect hard-boiled eggs with no green ring)
  • 3/4 Cup Mayonnaise
  • 1/4 Cup Pickle Juice (I use bread and butter pickle juice and it is perfectly fine if some of the spices get in there)
  • 2/3 Cup Grated Carrots, packed well (or more or less to your liking)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Make your hard-boiled eggs.  If you use my method they will cool perfectly in time for the Macaroni.
  2. Boil the macaroni according to the instructions on the package, I cook mine for 9 minutes.  Make sure to salt the water well! Allow to cool in the colander.
  3. Put the macaroni in a medium-sized bowl, with plenty of room for mixing
  4. Add in your mayonnaise, and carrots
  5. Now cut your eggs DIRECTLY above the bowl, that way you can just open the cutter and the eggs fall in, and you won’t loose a single ounce of eggy goodness! I use the OXO egg slicer, it’s perfect, and I highly recommend it.
  6. Add a dash of salt and pepper, and mix it all to combine using a large rubber spatula. I find the large rubber spatulas work best. They don’t break up the noodles, but they DO  break down the yolks and really get them mixed in well with the mayonnaise, which is exactly what you want to happen.
  7. Adjust your salt and pepper accordingly and enjoy!
Just like Grandma used to make!

Just like Grandma used to make!

A simple thought for the day.

With all the news coverage surrounding the failed gun control law, it begs the question; why can’t Americans be THIS passionate and vocal about things that matter even more? Is what we feed ourselves and our family on a daily basis not as important as gun control?  It certainly doesn’t get nearly as much media coverage; the president isn’t shaming it. Why can’t we as Americans stand up and say “It’s a shameful day in Washington”, when the Supreme Court rules in favor of Monsanto as  President Obama did in regards gun control just a few moments ago?

“I wish people would be as up in arms about the “control of special interests” and voting practices of our government when it comes to our foods as they are about Gun Control. – Burlap And Butter Knives

A beanstalk from my garden

A beanstalk from my garden

That’s all I have to sat about that.  I would love to hear your input on the matter.

– Jessica M. Berardi

How to make roast beef, a simple, straightforward and easy method I guarantee to be delicious.

It started innocently enough, my love affair with beef.  As the tale goes, we were in a restaurant in Florida and as I (a teeny tiny adorable little Italian Irish Princess) grew hungry, I exclaimed “WHERE’S THE BEEF????”  Volia, history was made. Some of my earliest food memories are of my father making steaks; and while I love my steak memories, nothing quite warms my heart like the way Roast Beef does.  Its hearty goodness, bursting at the seams with flavor,  dripping with just the right amount of fatty goodness. Crisp on the outside and on the inside warm and soft with silky pink juices flowing freely with each slide of the knife.  Oh no, we aren’t discussing restaurant roast beef, making a juicy and flavorful roast beef at home is completely within your reach. My method is a 2 day process, but easy as peanut butter and jelly and well worth it the effort!! That being said, yes I realize some people buy their peanut butter and jelly premade, but that is a discussion for another day. Oy vey!

Perfectly cooked Roast Beef

Perfectly cooked Roast Beef

I prefer to use a rump roast, but you may many different cuts. A few I have found to be good are  top round (rump), bottom round (rump), eye round,  top sirloin (top butt roast  or center cut roast), Tri tip; or just ask your butcher what cuts they have available and would be good for roasting. Chances are you can find a very inexpensive cut that will be enough to feed your whole family.

Juicy and Rare

Juicy and Rare

 

Roast beef sliced, and with all the fixings!

Roast beef sliced, and with all the fixings!

Roast Beef Recipe

Day 1: Make your dry rub 

  • 2 tablespoons each garlic powder, onion powder, seasoned salt 
  • 1 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • Generous handful of brown mustard
  1. Combine all the dried spices together in a bowl and mix well to ensure they are evenly distributed.
  2. Coat the rmeat liberally with the mustard
  3. Taking the spices in your hand, sprinkle them, pour them, whatever works for you, to coat the roast COMPLETELY.  I am talking encased completely!  Use up all the dried spices and make sure every inch is covered.
  4. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap!
  5. Set in the fridge overnight, fat side down.
Whole and resting, then sliced and waiting

Whole and resting, then sliced and waiting

Day 2: Roast the beast

  1. About an hour before you plan to roast it, Take the roast out of the fridge, unwrap and place in the pan you intend to roast it in, fat side up.
  2. Preheat oven to 450°f, calculate your total cooking time, 20 minutes per pound for medium rare,  for a rare center, 15 minutes per pound.
  3. When the hour is up, put the roast on a center rack in the oven, and cook at 450°f  for  15 minutes
  4. Reduce heat to 350°f and continue to cook for the remaining length of time. (As an example, for a 4lb roast, I cook it 15 minutes at 450°f, and then 65 minutes at 350°f)
  5. Take out of the oven, place on a cutting board, slicing platter or large plate (where ever you intend to cut it)  and allow to rest for 20 minutes.  Just take it out, set it there, and walk away, don’t touch it!  I don’t use a meat thermometer, I use this method.  The roast pictured here in this post,  I cooked using the 15minute per pound guide, specifically because I wanted a very rare center, to be used another day for steak sandwiches.
  6. I cannot stress to you enough, the importance of letting meat rest after cooking. This is one of the first things we learned at the CIA, and I have remembered it always. It allows the meat to finish cooking, this is called “carryover cooking”, things like steak and roasts will rise in temperature another 5 degrees during this process!  It also allows the juices to redistribute evenly, allowing for a piece of meat that is juicy throughout, and also keeps more of the juices inside the meat once you cut it, and you want the juice!  Before I bore you anymore with the science of it all, just look at the pictures here at serious eats, if these pictures don’t convince you to put down the knife and wait, nothing will! 😉
  7. When the 20 minutes are up, slice that beast up and enjoy however you like your roast beef.  With gravy, potatoes, on a sandwich, rolled around asparagus, any way you want!
Roast Beef Deliciousness

Roast Beef Deliciousness

Perfect French Toast; Breakfast Worth Waking Up Early For

Perfect French Toast; Breakfast Worth Waking Up Early For

I seem to be on a bit of a french toast kick lately.  No I am not pregnant.  I just seem to be craving it; I even made it for dinner one night! Sweet, but not too sweet, carby, a little crisp on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. That is the essence of perfect french toast.

French Toast and Bacon

French Toast and Bacon

You can use almost any kind of bread in this. Challah and Brioche are my favorite choices, rye and pumpernickel might not be a great choice, white bread, wheat bread, half stale bread, pretty much anything is fair game! Check the day old bread at the bakery even, once it is soaked in the sweet eggy goodness and pan-fried in butter it won’t matter!

Another great thing about French Toast, you can flavor it pretty much anyway you want!! One of my favorite things to do is to add some pumpkin puree to the mixture, about 2 Tablespoons, for a nice fall flavor.  Applesauce or Cider is another great fall addition. Or even drizzle caramel on top rather than syrup! In the Spring and Summer months, I love to add jam between the layers of french toast, and whipped cream.  The only thing that limits the flavors is your mind!

French Toast

  • 4 pieces bread
  • 4 Eggs
  • Generous 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Maple Syrup (Or Mrs. Butterworth if that’s what you’ve got!)
  • 1/3 Cup Milk
  • Sprinkling of Cinnamon
  • BUTTER, BUTTER, BUTTER

Method:

  1. Assemble your mise en place, also known as everything you will need for to make the recipe
  2. Heart a large frying pan on medium high heat
  3. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, maple syrup, milk and cinnamon
  4. Reduce the heat under the pan to medium and toss a general 2 tablespoons of butter into your frying pan, or enough to generously coat the entire bottom of the pan
  5. Immediately after tossing the butter in, put your first piece of bread into the egg mixture, let it sit in it for several seconds, and then flip it over
  6. As soon as you flip the bread to its second side in the egg mixture, give your frying pan a few shimmys and a shake to evenly distribute the butter in the bottom of the pan.
  7. Set that pan back down on the burner, and then, bringing the egg bowl to the pan, gently lift that bread out of the bowl and place it directly in the pan to begin cooking
  8. As soon as you set that piece in the pan, repeat the bread/egg process again, this time without the shimmys and shake of the pan.
  9. Allow the bread to cook for approximately 4-5 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the bread and the heat of your burner. It should be a nice golden brown on both sides as shown when it’s done. (see the pictures below)
  10. The last step is next, and this is VERY important, do NOT skip it.
  11. Immediately after taking the bread out of the pan, butter each piece of that french toast, and then slather it with syrup! Don’t be shy, this will be GOOD, VERY good!  And enjoy!
This is how it should look in the pan

This is how it should look in the pan

Close up of the toast

Look at the browning on those babies!

Possible Flavor Additions: 

  • A tablespoons or two of pumpkin puree
  • Apple sauce, or cider
  • Dollop of raspberry, blueberry, strawberry or blackberry jam between the layers, or even try it in the batter
  • Whipped cream topping
  • Caramel drizzle
  • Sauteed bananas and brown sugar
  • A dollop of lemon curd
  • Sliced fruit
  • Candied bacon
  • Virtually anything you can imagine! (I think another day I will delve into the world of savory french toast)