Friday, June 29, 2018

FEELING BLUE... APRON (and oh, so Plated)

(and oh, so Plated)

 OK - you know me.  I'm a foodie...  from Bonnie Lu's Cafe, a terrific diner here in Ojai, to the French Laundry in Napa - I love it all.  I'm still searching for the perfect cheeseburger and dream of dining at Per Se in Manhattan.

Because of Richard's gig as a food writer/producer for the Food Network, right after 9/11 we got to escape the horror for a few weeks and travel around Europe being wined and dined by some of the best chefs in the world... check out the towns, cities, wines and food in my blog series, "Five Guys & Me" as we journeyed from an idyllic small town in Germany to cities in France and Italy, ending in Florence.

"My" 5th Guy Took This Pic on Our lst Night In Europe and a Sleepover in Frankfurt

We were spoiled. Or so I thought.  

Recently, Richard and I were gifted with a package of three free Blue Apron dinners for two (meals for more than two are also available) and liked them so much, we gifted ourselves a few more times. 

Why, my friends ask?  You've been fed by some of  the greatest cooks in the world, why would you want packaged dinners?  You love to cook, they argued.  (Oops, no - not me guys -I don't actually "love" to cook, though Richard does).  I tried explaining... life gets busy, even the thought of planning a menu or going marketing can become overwhelming day after day after day after day (ask anyone who cooks at home most nights like we do), especially now that Richard has become the Artistic Director of the Ojai Art Center Theater and the last thing on his mind is cooking, so most marketing and meals are left up to me.  I tend to make the same things over and over again and these Blue Apron dinners were inventive and good.  No, they didn't compare to a Paul Bocuse or Thomas Keller meal (but they don't cost an arm and a leg, either).  And, no, they didn't even  compare to one of Richard's gourmet forays, but everything was fresh and we loved the recipes - the combinations of textures and tastes.

The first time the three dinner combination of seasonings, produce and either meat, chicken or fish (there are vegetarian option) package arrived at our front door, it felt like Christmas morning.  Excitedly, we unpacked the box to see what surprises awaited us.  Everything looked so fresh.  And, none of the dinners had a long prep time since everything was chopped and/or measure out beforehand.  For the first time in a while, Richard actually wanted to get back in the kitchen, so he made the dinners and, when we sat down to eat them, it felt like we had ventured out to a new restaurant.

Here are some of our favorite Blue Apron meals (Plated below).

Crispy buttermilk catfish - so delish and neither of us particularly like catfish:

recipe card

Cornmeal Crusted Shrimp Po' Boy (I never had a "po' boy" before) - this was one of my favorite Blue Apron suppers - full disclosure:  I love sandwiches:


Be still my heart
Beef Medallions with Mashed Potatoes & Balsamic Pan Sauce w/ Spinach:


recipe card
Tho we loved the recipe (and other beef/steak recipes) our only complaint w/ any of Blue Aprons meals is that the beef can be a little chewy.  

Shrimp & Spaghetti Marinara w/Spinach:

recipe card
ready to eat

Tex-Mex Chicken & Cheesy Rice:


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Soooo good - love the cheesy rice

Discovering my new found addiction to Blue Apron, Alexandra, my wonderful cousin, gifted us w/ Plated - another version of Blue Apron which was equally fresh and delicious.  Take a look...

Salmon & Creamy Dill Sauce:


recipe card

Plated plated (this was an exceptionally delicious dinner)
Chicken Marsala:


recipe card
Another oh, soooo delicious entree
We've stopped ordering the meals for now, and are back making some of our own tried and true dinners - but we miss those "Christmas mornings" when we got to open up a Blue Apron or Plated delivery and discovered new recipes to make without leaving the house.

Sooooooooooooo, if you're tired of the same ol', same 'ol -  give Blue Apron or Plated a try. We loved them and plan to order them again.

Thursday, May 24, 2018


with Spinach

So, there I was ready to plan the evening supper and there was nothing in the refrigerator.  Well, "nothing" is relative, there was some Swiss cheese, sliced ham for sandwiches, a little bit of spinach and other veggies, some nuts and jellies, mustard and ketchup, mayo, but nothing to inspire an evening meal.  I checked the pantry.  Cold cereal. Panko. Crackers. Some pasta (not in the mood for pasta).  Some canned goods.  Tuna.  Jarred marinara sauce.  Boring.  I could go to the supermarket, but I was working on my new book and didn't feel like it.  I'd think of something.

And I did.  Seeing the marinara sauce spurred my taste buds, but not for spaghetti.  I opened the freezer. Yay!  Some frozen, boneless, skinless chicken breasts still there from Costco.  I'll make chicken parm and a veggie side.  Richard loves chicken parm and he's been so wrapped up in rehearsals (he's directing a play to open June 22nd at the Ojai Art Center Theater where he's the Artistic Director), he's been too busy to cook and y'all know I'm not a bad cook, but he's the chef in the family... but I digress.

When the breast had thawed, it was time to start supper.  I checked the refrigerator again and found some chilled chardonnay and poured a glass while I ferreted behind a bottle of teriyaki, sparkling water, diet coke, a dozen eggs, two bags of ground coffee, those jams, two frosted beer mugs (no beer) and a box of baking soda.  No parm.  Well, there was some store bought parmesan (& romano), but no mozzarella.  I have no idea why they call chicken parmesan, chicken parmesan, when it's made with mozzarella, but I digress again.  

BUT, there right in front of me was that store bought parm/romano and that Swiss and that ham!  I wanted a supper with melty cheese, so the Swiss would just have to do.... and there's that sliced ham... the spinach!  Egg!  Panko in the pantry!  A figurative light bulb went off over my head.

with Spinach

One large boneless, skinless chicken breast (2 if they're small)
2 Swiss cheese slices
2 Ham slices
Fresh uncooked spinach leaves
Extra Virgin olive oil (or regular olive oil)
A sprig of rosemary
Panko (or bread crumbs)


I preheated the oven at 350 degrees.
I placed the breast between two sheets of wax paper and pounded the life out of it, then swooshed it around in the beaten egg.  Both tasks are a great way to get rid of aggression... the wine helps.

I added some chopped fresh rosemary, parmesan & romano cheese, salt and pepper to the Panko,

The Panko mixture
  then dredged the breast in the mixture.

I browned the breast in extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan

then placed it in a Pyrex dish and covered the breast with the spinach leaves, ham slices and Swiss cheese.  Spinkled some EVOO on top and popped it in the oven for about 20 to 30 minutes, depending on your oven and how melty you want the cheese.


Oh, for my "side" - I steamed some broccoli - added butter and a bit of fresh lemon juice.

Voila, again - a simple supper for two.  Richard loved it!!! I'm making it again!!!

Bon appetit!!!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

WHITE GLOVES & ROB ROYS - A story of another time

A story of another time

As some of you already know, my new novel is out!  Yay for me!!!

Manhattan in the sixties wasn't always welcoming to single women.  In most "fine" restaurants we (women) couldn't sit at a bar alone (unless it was one of the city's new "singles" bars) without a male escort .  We'd be accused of being "ladies of the evening" a/k/a "call girls" and, if we didn't leave when asked, we'd be physically escorted out to the street.  Many restaurants wouldn't even seat a woman alone for dinner, never mind serve her a cocktail... even if she was with a girlfriend.  But there was one restaurant (actually a chain of them) that always provided a safe haven for women eating alone.  Schrafft's.  Home-style food at reasonable prices.  Upscale decor.  And, yes, we could have a drink or two or three.

It was the beginning of the swinging sixties when I started out as a rock'n'roll journalist in Manhattan, a la "Almost Famous." Rock'n'roll wasn't kind to female writers (nor were most newspapers), so I supplemented that income working various paying jobs (operative word here is "paying").  My first paying job after college was as a legal secretary/para-legal at a law firm on Fifth (Ave.) and 42nd.  My Mom was working in advertising on Madison Avenue (a real "Peggy" in "Madmen," though her desk was in the secretarial pool and she didn't get a raise when she was made a copy editor, but I digress).  Mom still lived in Bayside, Queens, Long Island, New York where I grew up and commuted into Manhattan.  I lived in the city.  So we'd meet once a month or so for dinner... at Schrafft's.  No singles bar/restaurant for us, though we were both single.  It was mom and daughter time, not a "let's pick up men" time.  While there, I noticed these older/old women (way older than my mom) sitting alone at various tables having dinner.  Often with a cocktail.  They wore hats, tweed suits or skirts with sweater sets and a strand of graduated pearls.  Plain bumps adorned their feet.  I could smell the Channel #5 or Arpege.  And, yes, they wore white gloves.  I wondered who they were and why they were always alone.  Were they "spinisters?" Widowed?  Divorced?  Did they have children?  Schrafft's restaurants are long gone now, but the memory of these women have haunted me ever since so I decided to give them a backstory... a voice.  This is a tale of murder and revenge of some of those lone, lonely women.  It's fiction, but I like to think that it could all be true.

Please meet the ladies of Schrafft's and the young reporter who discovers their story.  Click into the link below and check out the reviews... read the synopsis... even the prologue and more.  I hope you'll be intrigued... The book is also at Barnes & Noble online, Kindle and other ebook outlets.