Friday, February 27, 2009

Sometimes I just need a nice evening out

Tonight it was with my girl friend (whose husband was out of town),not my husband, but still it was a great evening.

I picked up my friend at 6pm and we started rolling. WE weren't sure where to go but decided to head towards the city. We ended up at Asia de Cuba. I had been there once, years before, and my friend never had.

The view was beautiful. I would love to come back in the summer, during sunset, when I can fully appreciate the view, and sit outside during dinner.

The food was one of the most memorable meals I have had in a long time.

We started with two appetizers:
Tunapica - good and different, might have been great if we hadn't been served the calamari first
tuna tartare picadillo style with spanish olives, black currants, almonds, coconut, soy-lime vinaigrette and wonton crisps

Calamari salad 'asia de cuba' - I can see why this is a signature dish. We just COULD NOT stop eating it! The portion was huge and we still had some left over to take home
crispy calamari with chayote, hearts of palm, banana, cashews, chicory and radicchio, sesame orange dressing

We shared an entree:
Miso cured alaskan black cod - One of the best cooked pieces of fish I have had. I would have this over and over again!!!
cuban black bean and edamame salad, tempura shisito peppers

We also shared a side dish:
Plantain fried rice with avocado salad - This is another signature dish of theirs. Somehow this dish transcends regular fried rice and elevates it to this amazing symphony of flavors! YUMMY!!!

We each had Mojitos served with sugar cane sticks. The drinks were fantastic.

This was not a cheap dinner but VERY worth it. Truthfully though, the two of us could have easily done without the tuna tartare and not felt like we were missing a thing.

After dinner we took Pico Blvd. down to Santa Monica. Driving along Pico was fun (we passed by Don Antonio's for anyone who has watched The Hills since season 2). We stopped in at Casa del Mar and had a drink in the lounge. The hotel is BEAUTIFUL.

The evening complete we drove back home.

This was a nice, relaxing evening. We had no concrete plans but knew we wanted to have a nice dinner somewhere we didn't usually go. We didn't feel rushed or stressed.

Once in a while, you definitely need an evening JUST LIKE THIS!!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Beautiful Friendship Award

Quirkyloon, whose blog I never miss, gave me this AWESOME friendship award. It's so pretty :) She even called me beautiful - and I didn't have to pay her!

The "rules" for this award are quite painless.

Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who can choose eight more and include this text into the body of their award.

I love all the blogs I follow, but I guess I should play nice and choose 8 (since Quirky already choose Lee, and since Lee is aways so swamped she doesn't post these, I won't include her):

Caffeine Court - She's a new find of mine but I think she's great. And she recaps my guilty pleasure shows, like The Real Housewives of OC and NY!

Secret Life of Tova Darling - She is the creator of Totally Awkward Tuesday, which I LOVE!

Bern This - She has absolutely amazing stories that are written so well. I am jealous!

I Need A Martini Mom - She is my BLOGGING IDOL!

The Norwidians - Her kids are TOTALLY cute and are great dancers ;)

Under The Influence - Jo has great posts and GREAT HAIR!

The Kids Did What - Her NOT ME MONDAYS drawings are so vivid, she must spend hours on them ;)

LA MOM - I look forward to her stories about Paris on a regular basis!

Great award. Thanks again Quirky! I really do consider everyone I follow, and who follow me, good friends :)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Grocery Shopping Again

Thanks in big part to this blog, I have re-discovered The Grocery Game. IT really is an AMAZING way to save money. It only takes a couple of minutes to check the lists and choose what you want to buy. Cutting out the coupons takes me 30 minutes (I keep each Sunday coupon insert whole). Printing coupons from places such as takes another 10 minutes. Grocery shopping with the list takes about 30 minutes.

Seeing the total go down, down, down = PRICELESS

This week I save $83.61, and that includes the $26.99 extended edition of the High School Musical 3 movie (which has a peelie on it for free bread and cold cuts, I had a $10 coupon for the movie and I had manufacturers coupons for both the bread and cold cuts).

Lee, from MWOB, asked me about arranging my groceries. That's like the big win at the end of it for me. I can step back and see EVERYTHING I have bought. I'm a dork - I get a big kick out of it.

I've also linked up to The New Frugal Mom, who has a list of all the good deals at Kroger.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bad Sport

Today my older monkey tells me that her teacher wants to call me. That is NEVER a good thing.

It's because my monkey was a bad sport today :( She was playing kickball and a boy grabbed her by her shirt and got her out. So she went in the corner and started crying :( She HATES to LOSE! And then the kids told the teacher.

I relayed this story to the husband and told him to talk to her about being a good sport. His response...


Other gems included "It's NEVER a good game if you lose", which was in response to my telling him that she needs to be taught to say good game when she loses.


At least he said he'd talk to her about not crying when she loses.

I guess it's because he is so competitive and always played to WIN (he was on the Varsity football team as a Freshman in high school).

Men (at least my man) can be IDIOTS!!

Monday, February 23, 2009


All of us (ok, most of us) struggle with attaining some kind of "ideal" that is known only to us. Usually this ideal coincides with numbers on a scale.

However, I do have some question.

  • Why is it that the scale keeps going up but people tell me how great I look?
  • Does muscle really weight THAT much more than fat? REALLY??
  • If all I eat is soup, even if it's Asian MSG filled soup, why is it that the scale goes up in the morning?
  • Why is it that some clothes fit exactly the same, some are a bit looser and some are tighter?
  • How is it that I can increase the number of times a week I work out and STILL gain weight?

And the BIG ONES:

  • Why do I care so much about those little numbers on the scale???
  • Why am I so OBSESSED with one particular number???

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Things aren't always smooth when I bake

aka Why I don't like to bake as much as I like to cook.

For Valentines Day, the husband gave me a couple of items from one of my FAVORITE stores, Williams Sonoma. One of the items, I already had. So, I went to exchange it for something I didn't have but wanted.

Is it a sign of a mental illness when I realized that I had pretty much every cooking gadget that I wanted or needed?!?!?!?!?!

It was expensive, but I had to replace my Valentine's gift, right?? And the mold is re-usable.

On Saturday, I took the kids to see a play and afterwords to lunch with their friends and then everyone came back to my place.

Since no one was hungry, I decided to make these "corks".

First off - inside the huge canister was three bags. One was labeled sugar, one chocolate chips and one Bouchon mix. They're charging $18 for 2/3 sugar and chocolate chips??? WTF?!?!?! And I had to add my own butter and eggs!!

So I started following the directions on the back of the mix canister.

Melt one stick of butter in a sauce pan - CHECK.
Put the other stick of butter in a bowl - CHECK (in to the electric mixes bowl it went).

This is apparently where it gets tricky!

Pour the melted butter over the un-melted stick - CHECK.
Begin to stir the butters together - CH....Oh no, FLYING BUTTER comes at me.
And this didn't just happen once - it happened AT LEAST 3 times!!! It was funny as all hell but still! Our friends were over and just staring at this sight of butter catapulting towards me.

I told them, "See! Not everything I make is easy for me :)"

After I got the butter to stay in the bowl, I finished the corks. They were amazingly delicious. They didn't rise as high as I thought they should (I think I under filled the mold since I got 24 not 18) and I seem to have misplaced my powdered sugar, but non-the-less these were mighty tasty! Very similar to bite sized molton lava cakes.

Next time I'll just use the recipe that come with the mold and watch out for the flying butter :)

Friday, February 20, 2009


Tonight I went to sushi with a girl friend. It was a great place that we used to go to quite often (about once every two weeks or so). Due to scheduling conflicts, and the economy, we haven't been in a couple of months.

I remember that WHENEVER we went, be it lunch or dinner, the sushi bar was always packed. I got there at 5:35pm and the place was EMPTY! I was the first person to sit at the sushi bar.

By 6:30, the place was more than 1/2 full, but many tables and sushi bar places were taken by families with kids (kids definitely don't eat as much, and as high priced, sushi as adults do).

According to the sushi chef their business is 30% down since September. And they're one of the lucky ones. A number of their competitors have closed their doors.

Even between my friend and I, we ate less than we have in the past. Personally, I was very happy with the lower bill. At the same time, I felt kind of guilty so gave a little bigger of a tip.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Best Invention Ever

This looks so cool! Of course, WAY TOO EMBARRASSED to get this or use this!

What do you guys think?

Enough with the melancholy, on to the funny

when you cry...
no one sees your tears.
when you are in pain...
no one sees your hurt.
when you are worried...
no one sees your stress.
when you are happy..
no one sees your smile .
- - - - - - - - - - But FART!! just ONE time...

And everybody knows!!
Gotcha!! You thought it was going to be one of those heart-touching stories!
Feel free to pass it on :)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Not Today

Just feeling blah today - letting all those little and big things get me down and unhappy :(

I can't fake it today. Tomorrow I will be better.

There is a cute cartoon I want to post. It is on my work computer.

Sorry for the lame post.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Fake it 'til you make it

Tonight was cold! Really Cold! Once again, "cold" is in context. 48 degrees cold! I was tired and COLD! But Zumba was waiting.

Once the class started I forgot all about being cold, but I was still dragging. The teacher decided to wake all of us up - he SPED up the musicto almost double time! It was like Zumba on Speed. Some of the nice girls in the class and I would make eye contact and just start to crack up! We increased our energy, even though we didn't want to, and really put our all in to it! We made faces in the mirror and had a great time with the class. It was an amazing workout, as always, but tonight there was that extra something that made us go the extra mile.


I find myself doing that more often these days, in other parts of my life. At work, no matter how many time I answer the same question, I keep a smile in my voice and treat every person who calls like I have all the time in the world for them. During the days, I REALLY want to cry, I put on a smile and go about my day like nothing is wrong.

There are still days where nothing can get me out of my funk, but I'm learning to be a happier person, even though I frequently FAKE IT 'TIL I MAKE IT :)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Blogger Questions

A couple of questions that have been plaguing me recently:

  • How do I respond to an individual comment in an email to the person with their comment quoted?
  • What are those links at the bottom of the posts, and why do them?
  • Should I change my blog layout (it is my original one and quite plain)?
  • Does labeling my posts really help?

OK - I guess it is just 3 questions, but they have been plaguing me and I need answers. Pretty please with a cherry on top!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Grocery Shopping

Today my in-laws had the kids, and after my husband went to work, I had a couple of hours to myself. So, after relaxing for about an hour, I decided to go grocery shopping.

Armed with my "grocery game" list, I went to Pavilions (owned by Safeway). The "list" was really good this week cleaning products especially! Also, paper towels and toilet paper. Also, mushrooms were like $.88 a package (they have been over $2 a package in the past year).

With only 30 minutes of work, consisting of cutting out coupons, I saved $58.53, of which almost $20 was just coupons.
Not bad!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

My first post

Deb, from Dirty Socks and Pizza, wanted us to re-print our first blog entries. Even though mine was just a few months ago, it feels like I am opening a time capsule by re-posting.

Here goes:

I was talking to a friend today and I made a coherent, well thought-out comment.... Sometimes I do have moments of lucidity!

We were discussing body images. It's a subject near and dear to most every woman I know. Thin, Fat, Short, Tall, conventionally beautiful, and those whose beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
I grew up thinking I was heavy and unattractive. Looking back at my pictures, I was not "skinny", but I was nowhere near fat. I developed early so in turn looked big in regular clothes, especially being 5'2". It took a long time to be comfortable with my body.
It took having kids, working out regularly and knowing I am strong. My kids know I am healthy, and know that part of being healthy is exercising (running around outside, dance, Taekwondo, etc...) and that part is eating well (fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy and yes, even candy). I try to limit the sweets, but we talk about how to be healthy you have to eat good things, and candy isn't that good for you. IT'S NEVER ABOUT SIZE. It's about health. Hopefully, thanks to the lessons I learned growing up, I can save my kids some heart ache. Or maybe not, but I continue to try - especially in LA (the land of "LA 10's").
So, in honor of my moments of lucidity, I posted the above picture. It's not the best picture of me, but this picture is not about how I look (probably the only time I'll say that). I complained most of the way up the mountain, and I huffed and puffed and had to take breaks, but once up at the top I noticed it's beauty. And was happy I was able to reach the top. And felt strong, and knew that I would not feel sore the next day. This was my moment of lucidity, my AHA! moment.
Sure - I still obsess about the way my clothes fit and what the numbers on the scale mean and what my hair is doing and the adult pimples and if I'm a good mom and a good employee. I keep telling myself that these insecurities help push me to do better, and be a better person.
I hope to blog regularly, as I spend a lot of time at night just watching shows I've TIVO'd and surfing the net.
I'll blog about kids, food, crappy TV and random stuff that only I find interesting.
Hopefully, it will be interesting to more than just me.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The 8 Phases of Dating

In the (tongue in cheek) spirit of Valentines Day, I bring you the following:

It's pretty darn cynical but quite accurate.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Thousand Words Thursday

Cheaper Than Therapy

Cheaper Than Therapy has a GREAT feature on Thursdays called "A Thousand Words Thursday".

Normally I don't have any good pictures, but this week I actually do :)

Enjoy the dog torture (and he's not even my dog)!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Cheap Eats

On Monday night I realized that I had been slacking on bringing my lunch with me and decided to make something that would take me through a couple of lunches.

The easiest vehicle for that is my Crock Pot! I am trying to save money, be healthy and NOT spend a lot of time cooking during the week. Out come the beans.

I order my beans through the mail from Rancho Gordo, and no they are not magic beans. They also do not get buried in the back yard where they are expected to sprout a bean stalk and take me up to a giant.

They are DARN GOOD BEANS though! I used marrow beans this time - the whole 1 lb. bag.

My method for Beans:
Rinse beans in a colander
Place in bottom of a crock pot
Add roughly chopped celery on top of beans
Add roughly chopped onion on top of beans
Add roughly chopped carrots on top of beans
Add 5 smashed garlic cloves on top of beans
Ad 1 tsp of whole peppercorns on top of beans
Add water to cover beans by about 1 inch
Set crock pot to low for 8 hours

The reason I add the veggies on top of the beans is to "weigh" the beans down as much as possible before the water is added so that the beans won't float up too much.

I set this to cook at 10pm. When I woke up in the morning (the final time, not 12am when I was woken up to take the big monkey to the ER) I had a healthy, nutritious, cheap and easy lunch to take to work.

I just put the beans in a container and topped with some of the carrots and bean broth. At work, I added some hot sauce and dug in! I think this would also make a great "base" stew - just added shredded meat, other veggies for the last hour of cooking, or right before you reheat.

This makes QUITE a lot of beans. The cost of the dish was $5 for the pound of beans (although you can find dried beans most place for under $2), about $.25 for the 2 stalks of organic celery, about $.20 for the 2 organic carrots, $.20 for the 1 onion and $.10 for the 5 cloves of garlic.

For $5.75 have at least 3 lunches and a couple of bags of beans to use as parts of other recipes.

Who says good, filling food has to be expensive?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Last night I had to take the 6 year old monkey to the ER. She came in to my bedroom at 12am and by 12:30am was crying so bad that she ASKED to go to the hospital.

Thankfully, even though I live in LA, I live in a suburb with a small hospital about 10 blocks away. We were seen right away!

If any other mom has taken their child to the ER, you know that getting a child to pee in a cup, on command, is an exercise in futility. Especially when that is the body part that hurts/itches!

FYI - what the doctor's forget to tell you is that the antibiotics for a bladder infection strip away ALL yeast, including good yeast. So, it is VERY COMMON to get a yeast infection while fighting a bladder infection. Even on a 6 year old!

Thank G-d, she is fine and using a topical cream and eating lot's of probiotic goodies!

Driving home today, I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders (the 3 hours sleep probably didn't help).


  • I am responsible for making sure the monkey's are healthy
  • I bring the food in to the house (organic fruits, vegetables and meats as much as I can)
  • I make sure the husband has the schedule straight on a daily basis as to when to pick them up/drop them off
  • I plan the after school activities
  • I plan the play dates
  • I make sure that doctors are seen for ailments/preventative care
  • I kiss boo-boo's
  • I SAY NO
  • I pack healthy lunches (for the most part)
  • I buy the clothes
  • When there is a sick/cranky/bratty child I get the stink eye from the family/friends/strangers

No matter what century we are in, I AM STILL THE MAMA!

The PAPA? Wow! He "baby sits" so the Mama can take a 1 hour rest on Sunday mornings - isn't he great! He picks up the monkey's every day - what a good man! He provides - even though the Mama also works!

I love my monkey's more than anything in the world, and cherish them, but I need a WIFE/MAMA!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Simcha: a Celebration of Life

This weekend, the monkey's and I were in San Francisco. My closest friends and I (the friends I have had since childhood) took our kids to see a show on Saturday night. This was actually the whole reason for our trip to San Francisco. Of course, it's always nice for the grandparents (my parents) to see the grand kids.

Normally, I would save our trips for an occasion like a birthday. Once I heard what this show was about, I knew that it was something I wanted to take the monkeys to.

From their website:

Simcha: a Celebration of Life, Jewish American History in Dance

Inspired by the well-known stories of Sholom Aleichem, Firebird Dance Theatre's Simcha is a touching celebration of the spirit and history of the Jewish culture, using the art forms of dance and music. The story will immerse the audience into the emotions felt by a family torn away from their village in Eastern Europe and transported to a new land and an unknown life.

There are a couple of reasons I felt so strongly about this show but I think the main one is that, in many ways, this is the story of our (my family, my husbands family and most of our friends families) life! I was not born in this country and left the former Soviet Union due to religious persecution (OK I was 4 years old at the time, so it's more like my parents left and I had no choice but to come with). My parents came to the US with $500 and 1 suitcase each for themselves, my sister and I, and my maternal grand mother. They were also 40 years old and knew almost NO English.

The monkey's are 1st generation Americans. And I DO NOT WANT THEM TO FORGET OR TAKE FOR GRANTED ALL THAT THEY HAVE!

They may be little now, but I'm hoping that by taking them to events like this, and by talking about the past, the monkey's will value their heritage and understand the responsibilities they have in regards to keeping our history, and culture, alive.

For now, they ABSOLUTELY LOVED the dancing (both are in dance classes multiple times a week), the music (somehow the big monkey knows The Berry Sister songs?!?!?!) and the fact that they were seeing this show with their friends!

A truly successful night.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A parade for Tuesday

I am a day late, but my thoughts were with Tuesday's family, and the rest of the blogging community, yesterday (Saturday).

Yesterday was a virtual "Waggie Ride" in honor of Tuesday, who lost her battle with cancer at 2 years old.

Lee did an amazing job (with the help of some of her virtual friends) in bringing this story to light for those of us who did not already know it!

We were in San Francisco yesterday, where the monkeys and I went to the theater to see a show about the plight of our people (over the past 100 years or so) as told through dance and song. We saw this with my closest friends and their kids.

Somehow, to me, this was a fitting homage to Tuesday.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

I let her grandchild become sick

The monkeys' and I are in San Francisco for a quick trip to visit my parents and friends. Of course, the big monkey is sick on this trip (she has a bladder infection). I absolutely dread my parents seeing one of my monkeys sick!

My mother is acting like this is the biggest deal in the world! As if, somehow, I did not take good enough care of her grandchild, and so she got sick. She actually had the gall to tell me that this was serious, and that I need to keep an eye on it! Um, lady, I took her to the doctors office, got antibiotics for her, and am giving her cranberry juice to drink. DOES IT SOUND LIKE I'M NOT TREATING THIS SERIOUSLY?!?!??!

Tonight she asks the monkey if we make her home made, fresh cranberry juice at home?? "No, well then your mother must not love you as much as I do." OK - fine. She didn't really say the italicized part. But you know she was thinking it!

Of course, as much as I complain about my parents, there is the positive (even though it's not as much fun to blog about). I woke up to being asked what I wanted for breakfast. And in the afternoon, my mom and uncle took the monkeys' to the park for a couple of hours which enabled me to take a 2 hour nap in the middle of the day!

Sigh! Sometimes it's nice to be taken care of by mom and dad!

FYI - I absolutely LOVE Russian Complements, NOT! My uncle, upon not seeing me for a couple of months, takes one look at me and says your face has put on some weight! WTF?!?!?!?!?! In what world is that a complement, except in some backwards Russian mind?? Really?! Argh!!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Someone is testing me, or I Watch Too Much TV

Did I not just write a whole blog post about how I am not a patient person???

Why would you make me watch all of Greys Anatomy and Private Practice to have only the last couple of minutes of each be the "cross-over" part?!?!?! WTF?????

I want to get to the point! UGH!! I love shows that pull me in and make me root for the characters. Just don't leave me hanging!

I also don't like shows that kill off kids, or send kids to Children and Family Services! There are enough bad things in this world without making me sad about helpless kids!

OK - enough of my TV rant! Yes, I do watch too much TV, why do you ask?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


I am a big fan of facebook! It really is a fun social network. I have gotten back in touch with SO many people from different periods of my life. There are also games on Facebook. Everyone I know gets addicted pretty quickly.

I even added my blog to my "networked blogs" site on Facebook. Although honestly, I'm not sure what it does.

A while ago, a good friend of mine emailed me the following:


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

How do they learn these things?

I always try to build up the monkeys' self esteem. I constantly tell them how beautiful they are and how smart they are. I know how cruel life can be. And I want them to be armed with a GREAT sense of self.

I was talking to the 6 year old monkey this weekend. I did my normal "Who's my beautiful girl?" game with her. Normally, her answer is "me". This time her answer was "I'm ugly!" WTF??? Where did my self-confident daughter go??

The reason for this new found nuttiness - her FRECKLES! She hates her freckles! I've always had freckles. And really, that's one of the ONLY things I didn't have a problem with.

I tried pointing out my freckles to the monkey, but she was not having any of it! I also asked if anyone had teased her about her freckles. No one had!

So the questions becomes - how does a bright, beautiful, self-confident in most things, social-butterfly, great in any sport she picks up, 6 year old learn to be self conscious about something???


Monday, February 2, 2009


It is February. It has been one month since every one's "new" start! Resolutions are starting to wear off.

I feel like people my age are the MTV generation - you know the one that is used to two minute sound bytes, or videos, to tell the whole story. Change should be instantaneous, right?

I have the same issue. No matter how far I have come, I start thinking that I should have abc, xyz... If what we want takes a long time, we get upset and down on ourselves (or may be it is just me). If we haven't achieved our resolutions already then we tend to drop them. No wonder attendance at the gym goes down between making new years resolutions and realizing "oh shit!" I have a couple of weeks left until bathing suit season...LOL!

I'm trying to teach the monkey's to enjoy the process of growing and learning. I am trying to teach myself the same thing. That the journey is just as important as the destination.

This weekend I FREAKED out that a change in my personal life isn't happening faster. It is not in my control, and maybe that makes it worse. I want what I want, when I want it.

My friend Lupita is re-assessing her dating life. She's been out there for about 1.5 years and is frustrated. I truly understand her but I keeping thinking back on something that a trusted friend told me. She said, "I am truly glad for all the bad dates I had because it brought me to the place in my life where I was able to meet my husband".

This kind of advice is very hard to hear in the moment. Never-the-less, it is good advice.

On that note, I am exhausted and about to crash my head in to the pillow.

Question for everyone - am I starting to get boring and repetitive yet? I can take it.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Saturday night dinner

I have got to say how NICE it is reconnecting with old friends, and finding out that you still REALLY like them!

Not only did we have a great time last night, but old and new friends got along extremely well, which is definitely a bonus.

These are people whose parenting style I have ALWAYS admired. Their kids are 16 and 17 and were little when we became friends. I loved how well mannered their kids were, how their kids ate everything, weren't shy and how relaxed this couple was with their kids. They never treated them like children, but like intelligent people. Yes, there were fights and arguments, but you could see that these kids were happy to be around their parents.

In fact, the monkeys still use the baby blankets my friend made for them :)

Their older daughter is graduating this year and is going to Vassar. Their younger daughter is a social butterfly and very independent. I just hope my monkeys turn out as well as theirs have.

I decided to buy lobsters again, since they are still relatively cheap. The recipe I used here is still the only way to go, as far as I am concerned. To go with the lobster, I made these potatoes here (I used a mix of Yukon gold and purple Peruvian). Since my friends friend was coming with her, and she doesn't eat lobster, I also made chicken (which was so tasty and looked beautiful). I also was not sure if my other friend who didn't eat meat, ate lobster so I also made a pasta dish I have been thinking about for a long time.

Roast Chickens with Black Pepper—Maple Glaze


2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
Coarsely ground pepper
2 medium onions, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
Two 3 1/2-pound organic chickens (I used one 5.5 lb chicken)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the maple syrup and 2 teaspoons of coarsely ground pepper. Remove the glaze from the heat.

2. On a large heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet, toss the sliced onions with the olive oil. Season the onions with salt and pepper and spread in an even layer. Season the chickens inside and out with salt, then arrange them on top of the onions. Loosely tie the chicken legs together with kitchen string.

3. Roast the chickens for 45 minutes. Brush the chickens all over with half of the maple glaze and continue roasting them for 1 hour longer. Increase the oven temperature to 425°. Generously brush the chickens with the remaining glaze and roast for 15 minutes longer, or until the cavity juices run clear and the chickens are richly browned.

4. Transfer the chickens to a platter and let rest for 10 minutes before carving. Pour the onions and pan juices into a large glass measuring cup and skim the fat from the surface. Season with salt and pepper and serve with the chickens. (I never do the pan juices because I am too lazy, but I do serve the caramelized onions on the side, YUM!!)

--Maria Helm Sinskey

This recipe originally appeared in April 2004, Food & Wine Magazine.

Penne a la Betsy

1 pound of extra large shrimp. It should already be peeled and deveined.
olive oil
1 small onion (diced)
2 cloves minced garlic
8 oz can of tomato sauce
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup wine
3/4 lb. penne pasta

Rinse shrimp under cool water. Heat about a tablespoon of butter and olive oil in a skillet. Add the raw shrimp and cook for a couple of minutes. Remove and let cool.

Cook penne. While penne is cooking. Heat 2 tablespoons butter in skillet. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add garlic and onion and begin cooking stirring occasionally.

Take the cooked shrimp and pull off their tails and cut into bite sized pieces. Set aside.

Add wine to garlic mixture. Then add tomato sauce and stir well. Now add heavy cream.

Add shrimp, 1 tablespoon parsley and 1 tablespoon basil to mixture. Stir well. Add cooked noodles, mix and Enjoy!!!

Since I was already making lobster I omitted the shrimp this time. Next time I will add it. Also, I didn't have tomato sauce so I used 4 tiny diced tomatoes and some Italian seasonings. Next time I will use tomato sauce. I did add the fresh herbs at the end. Also, I used fat free half and half. It's hard for me to use full fat products.

So, even though I TOTALLY butchered this recipe (and I feel horrible because I LOVE Ree, the Pioneer Woman) I LOVED it the way I made it, and think I will love it differently when I make it the right way.

Here are some picture of my monkeys, the older monkeys friend and our "old" and great friends.