Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Mushy Peas

We traveled to Paris and England over the holidays and had an amazing trip! While in England, we enjoyed our fair share of the classic: fish and chips! I’ve had fish and chips before, but I’ve never  heard of the side dish that came with it- mushy peas! Apparently this is traditional English pub fare and despite the name, it is really good! So when we got back I knew I had to try to re-create them.

I went right to the “proper” source for a recipe- Jamie Oliver (he is like royalty over there).


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 bunch spring onions, chopped  (I used a yellow onion)
  • 1 handful fresh mint (optional)
  • 1 pound frozen peas
  • 2 large knobs butter
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


“Heat the oil in a pan and add the chopped onions, mint, and peas. Cover and leave for a few minutes to steam. Mash with a potato masher. You can do this with a food processor as well, just pulse it until smooth (I used my immersion blender). Whether mashing or pulsing, when it’s done add the butter and season very carefully, to taste.” I add a tablespoon or two of milk because it seemed rather dry.

 They were really good, but not as good as the ones I had in the English pubs! I’ll have to keep at it…

Golden Boar Pub

The Rose and Crown

Meanwhile, since we’ve been back I have…

1. … started to put milk in my tea  

(in my commemorative William and Kate engagement mug, of course…)

2. … am going through serious Cadbury withdrawal

3. …become slightly obsessed with the Royal Family

The Royals

(on my to-read list!)

4. … started using the phrase “BRASS MONKEYS”  

(it doesn’t mean what you think)

 whenever possible (as in, “Brrr… it’s brass monkeys out there today!”)

5.  …. found my knight in shining armour


6. … continue to wait for my acceptance letter to Hogwarts!



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It’s finally Fall- my favorite season! Although it certainly came late this year. Just two weeks ago, Tony and I went to “the country” for a weekend in Virgina and it was still 80 degrees! We pretended it was cool and crisp and the leaves were changing, nevermind the fact we were still in flip flops. It was a great weekend.

 We stayed at the Marriott Ranch B&B in Flint Hill, VA. We’ve stayed here before and it’s a great place!

We hiked around and played on tractors…

and had some close encounters with these guys!

We also went wine tasting and had a picnic.

And we went apple picking!



We came home with about ten pounds of apples, so I tried to find the most versatile recipe to make with them. I found a recipe for a “Breakfast” Apple Granola Crisp here and it was perfect- something you can eat for breakfast and dessert or really anytime of the day. It’s essentially an apple crisp, but the topping is a bit more “granola-y” so it passes for 1) healthy and 2) a breakfast food. Works for me! 

Breakfast Apple Granola Crisp


  • 3 pounds* apples (any mix of apples) (peeled, cored and cut into medium chunks**)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons sugar (I used a mix of brown and white)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 cups oats
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)


Preheat oven to 400°F. In a large bowl, toss apple chunks with lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and pinch of salt.

Add to a 9×13-inch baking dish. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter with the honey. Stir in the flour, oats, almonds, coconut and another pinch of salt until clumps form. Sprinkle evenly over the apple mixture and bake in the oven for about 45 to 55 minutes, or until the apples are softened and bubbly. The granola will probably start to brown to soon, so cover the baking dish with foil for the last few minutes (as you can see I did it too late). After you remove the foil, put it back in the oven for a few more minutes to help the granola re-crisp. Cool to room temperature and keep in fridge for about a week.

Tastes great by itself or with plain yogurt (see- breakfast!):

*three pounds = approx. 9 medium apples.

** very helpful if you can get your husband to do this part

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We took advantage of the long 4th of July weekend and went up to my parents’ house in NY, aka “Camp Croton”- because going there is like “summer camp” for our city dog, Bailey, with all of the hiking, swimming, and playing he does, not to mention the treats (Dad…).  It’s also like “camp” for us humans too (for all of the same reasons) so the name has stuck! This time, in addition to hammocking (yes, it’s a verb), swimming, canoeing, and indulging in whatever delicious baked goods my mother decided to make that day, we took a day trip to Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, NY and took a pesto making class! Stone Barns is a “farm” (which is a complete understatement) that also has an education center, hiking grounds, cooking classes, and a farmer’s market. Its mission is “to celebrate, teach and advance community-based food production and enjoyment, from farm to classroom to table.”  

The Blue Hill at Stone Barns restaurant is also on the property, which doesn’t have an actual menu but instead offers a 5 or 8 course dinner customized by the chef based on the table’s preferences and what is fresh and seasonal that day. We snuck a peek inside and it looked like they were setting up for a wedding that day! We opted for iced tea and scones at the less formal, but equally lovely (not mention more financially appropriate), Blue Hill Cafe. 🙂

But first, we met our group and learned how to make farm fresh pesto! 

 The first stop was the drying cellar where the garlic is stored. We selected a number of cloves- I had no idea how many varieties of garlic there are! We did a tasting but to be honest, I couldn’t really tell the difference. The type we used for the pesto was Music Garlic.

Next stop was the garden where we picked our fresh basil…

Then we headed into the kitchen/classroom where we split up into groups and were assigned tasks.

We got off easy- our job was slicing the bread!

The instructor put all of the ingredients into a blender and then  passed the pesto around for everyone to taste.

The product of our hard work! 🙂  

At the end of the class each person received a bulb of garlic to take home and plant, store, or eat!

On the way out we saw this sign posted on the wall and thought it was hysterical!

We hiked around the property afterwards and found these guys out in the pasture.

They didn’t look like they were moving anywhere (sorry, lea…).

They handed out recipe cards at the end of class which included a number of different pesto recipes. One that caught my attention when the instructor mentioned it was Kale Pesto. As luck would have it, we received a huge bunch of kale in our CSA delivery the next week. Naturally, we decided to make Kale Pesto! So we got ourselves a crusty loaf of bread, dusted off the blender, and employed our newly honed pesto making skills to make this electric GREEN Kale Pesto: 

Kale Pesto

  • ¼- ½ cup pine nuts (or walnuts)
  • ½ -1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ pound kale, stems removed, coarsely chopped (2-3 bunches)
  • 1 cup basil (1 large bunch)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Black pepper to taste

Add all ingredients except oil to blender or food processor and blend until combined. Slowly drizzle in oil and continue to blend until you reach the desired consistency. *my note: all measurements are really just estimates and depend on your personal taste-if you like it spicy, add more garlic; if you like a more chunky pesto, use less oil; etc… I want to try it with walnuts next time!  

In addition to just slathering it on bread and devouring enjoying it, we also made a simple pesto pasta by tossing it with some cherry tomatoes (from our garden!) and spaghetti rigate. I mention the pasta type because this kind has little ridges in the spaghetti which really catch and hold onto the pesto! Delicious!

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Key Lime Meltaways

For Father’s Day this year, I sent my Dad some Key Lime Meltaways. My parents went to Key West recently and upon our recommendation, experienced the magic of chocolate dipped frozen key lime pie. Yes, that’s right- a slice of key lime pie, frozen, dipped in chocolate and served on a stick! What could be better?!

When Tony and I were in Key West last summer we had one everyday. On the day we left we even had one for breakfast- literally while driving in our convertible rental car- the perfect exit!

I realized shipping a frozen key lime pie to New York was not economically feasible ($115 for 12 bars here, anyone?), so I decided to make the next best thing- key lime cookies! These are great summer cookies- small, light and refreshing!

adapted from Martha Stewart


  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • Grated zest of 2 key limes (or two regular limes)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (or 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


 In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, cream butter and 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar until pale and fluffy. Add lime zest, juice, and vanilla; beat until fluffy. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, and salt. Add to butter mixture, and mix on low speed until just combined.

Divide dough in half. Place each half on an 8-by-12-inch sheet of parchment paper. Roll in parchment to form a log 1 1/4 inches in diameter, pressing a ruler along edge of parchment at each turn to narrow log. Refrigerate logs until cold and firm, at least 1 hour (I refrigerated the dough overnight).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Remove parchment from logs; cut dough into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Space rounds 1 inch apart on baking sheets. Bake cookies until barely golden, about 13 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool slightly, 8 to 10 minutes. While still warm, toss cookies with remaining 2/3 cup sugar in a re-sealable plastic bag. Cookies can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature up to 2 weeks.

I debated dipping them in chocolate, but it was late and I didn’t want to ruin my hard work! Next time when I’m not under a holiday deadline crunch, I will experiment!

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We recently took a trip to St. Lucia and had the most amazing time! St. Lucia is a gorgeous island in the West Indies that is surrounded by rainforest and has a very strong Creole culture.

Of course, food played a very important role on our trip and we happily discover many new and local St. Lucian things!

 Here are some highlights:

Mango trees were everywhere! We enjoyed fresh mango, along with many other local fruits at breakfast each morning. One of our favorite discoveries was passion fruit:

Banana trees covered the island. I learned that St. Lucia exports its bananas to the U.K., whereas the U.S. gets all of its bananas from South America.  St. Lucian bananas are actually smaller and slightly sweeter than “American” bananas. I had an American banana in my bag (shhh… don’t tell customs!) and we did a taste test between the two. I actually like the St. Lucian banana better!

We also had about 10 different types of fish while we were there (yes, we counted!).

King fish with shrimp and real pieces of sugar cane.

Barracuda! It was delicious- and so were all of the wonderful Creole sauces and spices they served with everything.

Salt fish- a favorite during happy hour at the beach bar!

We went to a local “fish fry” one night in a small fishing village. The streets were lined with booths where people sold grilled fish and other local dishes.

Red snapper and mahi mahi.

Grilled mackerel (Tony was brave enough to try- his description=”fish french fry”!…)

Grilled bread fruit- a fruit that tasted more like a potato that I loved and had many times during our stay!

The local fisherman casting their nets off our beach at the resort.

Fresh “catch of the day”- barracuda! (he was taking it up to our resort’s restaurant to see if they wanted to buy it!). The fishermen would also go diving with snorkels and spearfish off our beach! Tony followed them around like a puppy dog. Here’s a catch of red snapper and Carribean lobster:

One of the things we were looking forward to having in St. Lucia was Carribean lobster, which we remember from our trip to Aruba years ago. Unfortunately we found out it was not lobster season while were there so we didn’t get to have any. There is apparently a $5,000 fine per lobster caught during the off-season. Quite a risk these fisherman were taking!

So…. upon our return home we decided to treat ourselves to a lobster dinner! It was actually Maine lobster (which we both agree is better than Carribean lobster anyway).  It helped ease the vacation blues as we looked back through our pictures and wished we were still there!

Soooo delicious with drawn butter and corn and the cob!

Reason #2,554 why I love my husband:

Tony: “So I think… oh, sorry you’re enjoying your last bite aren’t you?”

Jeannette: nods her head while chewing and smiling with her eyes closed.

Tony: “Ok, I’ll wait until you’re done.”   

He understands the importance of savoring the last bite!  🙂

It was an amazing vacation!

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Under the Tuscan Sun

Ciao! We are back from an amazing vacation in Italy where we trekked around Rome and ate and drank our way through Tuscany! We started (and ended) our trip in Rome which is still one of my favorite cities.

I love the way the old (really old) blends in with the new and how the frantic pace of the people is balanced by the calm beauty of the statues and fountains. It is truly a city that has it all. One moment you can be dodging mopeds on a busy street only to turn a corner and find yourself strolling down a peaceful cobblestone alley lined with flower boxes. There is so much to do and see in Rome, I am impressed with how much ground we covered in two days!

Yet we still fo
und time to sit in piazzas and drink wine and enjoy gelato by the Trevi Fountain!


Then we headed to Tuscany where we rented a villa with eight of our friends. We stayed at a villa called Podere Pamaio just outside of Arezzo. To say this place was spectacular is an understatement. I literally had butterflies in my stomach as we drove up the gravel path and saw the villa for the first time. The pictures and website did not do it justice.

The villa is what they call Agritourismo – which basically means vacation on a farm- however, not in the “milk the cow and shovel manure” kind of way! The house is located on a vineyard. The owners grow and sell their own grapes and are planning to make their own wine next year. They are currently in the process of building a “cantina” where they will make the wine and open it for tourists for wine tasting. They also grow olives and make their own olive oil which is delicious. The kitchen in the villa was stocked with the olive oil and we used it a lot!

In addition to the beautiful setting, Monica (one of the owners) would bring us fresh fruit and vegetable boxes straight from the garden. I was in heaven!

We actually cooked at the villa two nights using food “from the land.”

As if we weren’t spoiled enough by the spacious house, infinity pool and breathtaking views- Monica also brought us homemade tortes (her specialty) and homemade biscotti!

Why we would ever leave the villa is a good question- but we did manage to get ourselves out and visit a number of Tuscan towns. We had many adventures including amazing meals and wine. So I will share with you some of the culinary highlights:

The Market at Campo di Fiori in Rome:

(zucchini flowers)


Fettuccine Tartufo (black truffle sauce)....

my favorite meal of the trip (I think…. )

Zuchinni Flowers
stuffed with ricotta cheese and sweet pea sauce

Pici with Duck Ragu
(a traditional Tuscan pasta)

Crepe with Black Truffles
with a Pecorino cheese sauce (look at all those shaved truffles!!!)

Scampi Risotto

Our Loot
We brought home A LOT of wine and olive oil (including truffle oil!)

It was an amazing trip!

This way our view each night from the Villa….

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