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Halloween In Clinton Hill

I had to snap fast because it was getting dark, I forget how quickly it turns dark now. This year the turn out was HUGE, there were thousands and thousands of people out on the streets. It was a beautiful evening, not too cool, just perfect really. Had a lot of fun talking to my neighbors.

After I got back I sat on my stoop with candy and there were so many people it was literally gone in 10 minutes. When I first moved here I was lucky if 1 or 2 people stopped by trick or treating. In just a few years it has grown to a Halloween destination.

Some of the photo’s are a bit blurry I was snapping as I was walking trying to beat the darkness but you can get an idea of the scope of this event. It was so much fun, love seeing all my neighbors, everyone and I mean everyone gets into the spirit of Halloween. It’s much bigger than any other holiday and people from all over come here for this, I am constantly amazed just how many people come from outside of the neighborhood just to see and experience Halloween in Clinton Hill. Here are a few photo’s from tonight.

Gone in 10

Gone in 10

Starting out already pretty crowded

Starting out already pretty crowded

My neighbor decked out

My neighbor decked out

IMG_7182 IMG_7186 IMG_7194

IMG_7199 IMG_7201 IMG_7204

dead zombie band great jazz

dead zombie band great jazz

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Some can't resist making a politcal statement

Some can’t resist making a politcal statement

Happy Halloween And Some Pumpkin Spice Latte Doughnut Muffins For Fiesta Friday


How many of you have had a Pumpkin Spice Latte? They are really delicious and are a greatl hot beverage on a cold Fall/winter morning. This was my inspiration for these muffins. Pumpkin, spice, coffee baked into a delicious cake like muffin dipped in butter and rolled in cinnamon sugar. The recipe is one of my favorite muffin recipes from Food52 Cinnamon Sugar Breakfast Puffs. It’s really delicious. I wanted to switch it up a bit and add some pumpkin and coffee to mimic the latte.  They are wonderfully soft and cake like with a hint of pumpkin and coffee.

I thought this would be a nice sweet treat to bring to Fiesta Friday, sorry Angie you might find some sugar granules on your floor, they are a little messy but sooooo good. There are no co hosts today so sweet Angie is manning the helm herself, Thanks Angie for always being there and if any of you would like to join the party feel free to follow the link, we need co hosts to step up to the plate.

Muffins and Coffee

Muffins and Coffee

Pumpkin Spice Latte Doughnut Muffins

Adapted from a recipe on Food52 from five and spice

Makes 12 muffins

1/3 cup melted butter

1/2 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp allspice

1/8 tsp ginger

1 heaping tsp powdered or granulated coffee or espresso powder

scant 1/2 cup whole milk at room temperature

3 tbs pumpkin puree

1/2 stick or 4 tbs unsalted butter melted

cinnamon sugar

Melt butter either on the stove or in the microwave in glass or ceramic. Set aside to cool. Pre heat oven to 350 degree’s and butter or oil/spray muffin tin.

Add sugar and egg and cooled butter to mixing bowl and beat until light and creamy approximately 2 minutes. In separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt and spices and set aside. Heat the milk just until warm in the microwave and add the coffee, stir in the pumpkin.  On medium low speed alternately beat the flour mixture and wet ingredients only until combined. Spoon into muffin tin (NOTE: the muffins are small so spoon only a little of the batter to each) The recipe makes exactly 12 muffins.  Bake for 20-25 minutes. Let cool in muffin tin until they are just warm enough to handle. Have your melted butter and cinnamon sugar ready. Dip each muffin in butter first covering the entire muffin and then into the cinnamon sugar. Enjoy immediately.


Business are decorated

Business are decorated

Saw these on pinterest and couldn’t resist. I miss dressing Izzy and Nando for Halloween.

Witchy pug

Witchy pug

iphone pug

iphone pug

Have a wonderfully spooky and treat filled Halloween everyone! I will be walking the neighborhood today taking photo’s that I will share with you all. Remember to set the clocks back an hour. Day light savings time ends at 2AM.




Fall Harvest Salad And Meeting A Friend


I honestly didn’t know what to call this salad. The name is sort of an accurate description. I saw this amazing Fall Panzanella salad on Susan Pridmore’s blog The Wimpy Vegetarian. I immediately knew I had to make it it just sounded so good, kale, butternut squash, bread, apples, onions. I fell in love, then I had lunch at Speedy Romeo’s, a fantastic restaurant in my neighborhood that makes the most amazing brick oven pizza in incrediblely creative ways.  They also have some awesome salads,  I ordered a kale, apple, pomegranate, goat cheese salad that rocked my world. I have to add that I went there with Patty Nguyen, she is an very talented photographer and has a beautiful blog of the same name that I have been following for several years now. This is not the first time we met, whenever Patty comes to NYC we get together. I had the pleasure of meeting her family this time and we had a wonderful time.

Pizza with Patty and family at Speedy Romeo's Brooklyn

Pizza with Patty and family at Speedy Romeo’s Brooklyn photo by Patty Nguyen

Back to the salad as I explained Susan’s Fall Panzanella grabbed me and then the salad at the restaurant was incredible, they have similar flavor profiles. I need to eat more salad, but for me it has to be super flavorful and very interesting. Lettuce and tomato are great (on a BLT) but not that interesting. I decided to take both salads and take a little from each, add my own touch and see how it comes out. It had to have kale that was a must, I wanted it to be seasonal so I added butternut squash that was roasted in the oven, apples,  some toasted pumpkin seeds and pine nuts and grated aged Asiago cheese.  I used Susan salad dressing which is made with apple cider vinegar, maple syrup and apple.  I massaged the kale for a long time, a good 15 minutes I wanted it to be really relaxed, 10 minutes with a little olive oil and another 5 minutes with dressing, added chopped apple, butternut squash,nuts, seeds and grated cheese, another splash of dressing, season and voila, a delicious, nutritious fresh salad, bursting with flavor.


Fall Harvest Salad

1 head green curly kale cleaned, leaves torn from stems and chopped chiffonade

2 apples cleaned, cut into bite size pieces

2 cups cubed butternut squash

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds toasted

1/2 cup pine nuts toasted

approximately 1/2 cup grated Asiago cheese

Pre heat oven to 375 degree’s. Place butternut squash pieces on sheet pan lined with parchment, drizzle with olive oil and toss to make sure every piece is covered in oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast in the oven for approximately 30 minutes or unti squash is tender and lightly browned.

Remove the squash and set aside, place the pumpkin seeds and pine nuts on the same piece of parchment and toast in the oven for about 15 minutes watching carefully so they do not burn. Remove nuts and set aside.

Grate cheese and set aside.

Place chiffonade kale in large salad bowl, drizzle on a little olive oil and massage the kale really well, I worked on it for about 10 minutes. Add some of the dressing and massage another 5 minutes. Cut the apple into bite size pieces and toss into the kale, add the squash, nuts and seeds, toss to combine, add the grated cheese, season with salt and pepper, add more dressing if you like (I did). You can serve immediately but this salad keeps really well in the refrigerator for hours so it can be made ahead of time.

Dressing- Apple Vinaigrette

Recipe by Susan Pridmore- The Wimpy Vegetarian

1/2 apple peeled, seeded and diced

3 tbs apple cider vinegar

1 tbs maple syrup

3-4 tbs olive oil

1/4 tsp kosher salt

Mash the apple in a small food processor, if you don’t have a small processor heat in the microwave for about a minute and mash using a mortar and pestle. Whisk mashed apple into the vinegar, salt, maple syrup and olive oil.

Halloween/Samhain And A Triple Layer Apple Cake

Decorating for Halloween

Decorating my mantle for Halloween

I love Halloween/ Samhain, it’s huge in my neighborhood. Children walk en masse trick or treating, there are theatrical productions, music like the Dead Zombie Band playing on the street. Everyone dresses in costume here and has a wonderful time. We have a doggie costume contest called The Great Pupkin at Fort Greene Park (I miss dressing the pugs), people decorate their homes. I kid you not when I say Halloween is huge in Clinton Hill see this article in the Daily News.

My stoop

My stoop

All month horror films (mostly not very good ones) are shown on TV, some of you who know me are aware that I am a fan of horror films, always have been and I look forward to seeing some of my favorites on Halloween.  Two I love!

Mia Farrow-Rosemary's Baby

Mia Farrow-Rosemary’s Baby-Polanski is genius

Bela Lugosi Dracula

Bela Lugosi Dracula

To celebrate the end of the harvest and the beginning of winter or the dark months, the literal and original meaning of Samhain, I made an apple cake. I know, there is a plethora of apple recipes out there right now along with pumpkin but thats ok, right, it’s apple and pumpkin season. This cake has been in my repertoire for years, it is the simplest and best apple layer cake recipe I have found. It is from Martha Stewart. The cake is shown with a brown sugar swiss meringue buttercream (yum) but I am making a cream cheese frosting. I have made this cake many times and vary the way I use the apples. Sometimes I follow directions grating 2 and dicing 2, sometimes I make applesauce from all 4 apples or at times I will grate all 4. For this cake I made applesauce which is my favorite way of prepping the apples for this cake. It is nicely spiced, moist and has a wonderful texture, I love it with either the Brown Sugar Buttercream or Cream Cheese Frosting any way you make it it is a wonderful way to celebrate apple season.

Apple cake

Apple cake

Three Layer Apple Cake

Martha Stewarts Everyday Food with John Baricelli

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

2 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

3/4 tsp salt

2 cups packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs

4 apples peeled and coursely grated (or you can grate 2 and dice 2) If you make applesauce the yeild is about 1 1/2 cups from 4 apples)


Pre heat oven to 350 degree’s. Butter 3 8 inch round cake pans place parchment round in each butter again and dust with flour.

In medium bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and ginger and salt. In large bowl whisk butter, sugar and eggs until well combined, fold in the grated apples. Add the flour mixture and mix just until combined Divide batter among the prepared pans.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans for 20 minutes before inverting onto cooling rack. Cool complettely before frosting.


Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz cream cheese softened to room temperature

8 oz unsalted butter softened to room temperature

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

3-4 tbs half and half or whole milk

3-4 cup confectioners sugar

Beat butter and cream cheese until creamy and completely incorporated, add 2 cups of the confectioners sugar the vanilla and 2 tbs of the milk or half and half and beat. Add another cup of confectioners sugar and more milk continue to beat adding sugar and milk as needed until it reaches spreading consistency.











Grillades With Cheesy Grits And Baked Apple Porridge For Breakfast

I am forever searching for recipes that are a bit different to offer for breakfast. I saw this recipe on Spicy Southern Kitchen, Christin knows a thing or two about comfort food, it sounded absolutely delicious and I knew I had to make it. The other recipe I found is on Nicole’s wonderful blog The James Kitchen,  it’s called Baked Plum Porridge but I decided to use apples since they are in season. Both recipes are comfort food at it’s best, warming and filling and a great way to start the day. When the weather turns colder smoothies don’t cut it for me, don’t get me wrong I still love them but I have a tough time drinking something cold. I want a warm meal and these two delicious recipes satisfy.


The Grillades can be made a day ahead, all you do is warm it and make the grits. The recipe calls for an economical cut of beef. round steak which can be quite tough, it needs to cook a long time to tenderize, this is why I say to make it the day before. It actually tastes even better the next day. I made a few changes, you can click on the link above to see the original, here is my take on this great dish. Traditionally the beef for this dish is cut into medallions and pounded thin, I bought already thinly sliced round steak and cut it into strips. I was gifted a container of Creole seasoning from my good friend Emily and I hadn’t used it, when I saw this recipe I thought it would be the perfect recipe to try it out, and I have to say I love it, thanks Em!!

Grillades With Cheesy Grits

Serves 6 generously

1 1/2 lb thin sliced round steak cut into strips

8 links breakfast sausage

1 stalk celery, cut into small pieces

1 small onion chopped

1 small (baby)red bell pepper chopped into small pieces

1 small yellow,(baby) orange or green bell pepper

1 clove garlic sliced

Flour to coat meat Approximately 1/3 cup

2 tsp creole seasoning (added to the flour)

2 bay leaves

1 tsp dried basil

14 oz beef or chicken stock

1 1/2 cup chopped cherry tomatoes or 1 14 oz can chopped tomatoes

1 tsp red wine vinegar

hot sauce (tabasco or chill) approx 1 tbs.

salt and pepper

olive oil or bacon fat to fry the meat and vegetables (I used bacon fat)

Heat the oil or bacon fat in a skillet, Add the flour and creole seasoning to a ziplock bag and put the beef strips in and shake the bag so that each piece is coated. When pan is hot first brown the sausage and set aside then add the beef and let it brown, remove from pan and set aside (you may need to fry the beef in two batches)

While pan is still hot add a little more oil or bacon fat,  the onion, celery and peppers and cook stirring frequently until they soften, now add the garlic and cook for a few more minutes until garlic softens. Take 1 tbs of the seasoned flour you used for the meat and sprinkle on the vegetables and stir. Let the flour cook with the vegetables approximately 1 minute and then add the stock and tomatoes. Bring to a boil and add the vinegar and hot sauce, bay leaf and basil. adjust the seasoning and add the beef, cut the sausage into bite size pieces and add also. Cover and cook  on low heat stirring frequently until meat is tender and sauce is thick, approximately 1 1/2 hours. Refrigerate over night heat and serve the next day with the grits. Be sure to remove the bay leaves before serving!!


First let me say I didn’t use stone ground grits, just regular Quacker brand. To serve 6 you use 1 1/2 cups grits to 6 cups liquid. I used 3 cups water and 3 cups whole milk and 1/2 tsp salt. Add the grits when the liquid comes to a rollling boil stirring constantly, let cook following package instructions (about 15 minutes) For cheese grits add 1 cup grated cheese I used manchego (my fave).  When the grits are done and you have removed from the heat add some butter and the grated cheese. Stir until the butter and the cheese melt. Serve immediately with the grillades.


Baked Apple Porridge:

I made it exactly like Nicole instructed, see here, except I switched apples for plums. I sprinkled the apples with cinnamon and a little nutmeg before putting the oat mixture on top.

Nicole used plums which are much softer and cook quicker than apples and I should have thought of that when making this one. Next time I make it I am going to pre bake the apples for about 30 minutes to soften and caramelize them and then I will add the rest of the ingredients.

It is so delicious, the oats become almost fluffy, not too sweet, the gentle spicing of cinnamon and nutmeg are wonderful with this warm comforting dish. A splash of cream or dollop of yogurt and a drizzle of maple syrup make this a memorable and delicous breakfast.



Roasted Vegetable And Manchego Tart For Fiesta Friday #89 And A Sad Anniversary

Roasted vegetable and Manchego tart

Roasted vegetable and Manchego tart

I made breakfast this morning for my Air BNB guests, a breakfast tart, actually 2 of them. One was the Roasted Tomato and Herbed Ricotta Tart and a tart filled with roasted vegetables and topped with a medium soft egg. I thought a nice savory tart filled with roasted vegetables and manchego cheese would be a lovely addition to the party this week. It has been a while since I partied. After Nando passed I was not really in a party mood and am just now getting back to blogging regularly. I hope I am still welcome. This weeks co hosts are no strangers to Fiesta Friday and I am sure to all of you,  Mila and Kaila! Thanks to Angie again for hosting this party I am excited to be back. You can of course join in too, it is always fun and the company and food is spectacular.

On a sad note, today is the one year anniversary of the death of my sweet little Izzy. I still miss her every single day and she is in my thoughts constantly, I love my sweet little cupcake.

Izzy with her cupcake leash

Izzy with her cupcake leash

Roasted Vegetable And Manchego Tart

Makes one 9 inch round or rectangular tart

Vegetables (Note: Use whatever vegetables you like, it’s all good)

1 Italian eggplant cut into bite size pieces (I partially peeled it)

1 large shallot or 2 small peeled and cut into rounds

10 white button mushrooms cleaned and sliced thick

12 cherry tomatoes

6-8 brussels sprouts cleaned and cut in half

1/2 zucchini cleaned and cut into bite size pieces

Olive oil, salt and pepper

Pre heat oven to 375 degrees. Place vegetables on parchment lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, season lightly with salt and pepper and roast until vegetables are tender, the tomatoes should be slightly caramelized.



Your favorite pie crust recipe, I used my go to Julia Child recipe, it never fails.

Roasted vegetables

approximately 1 cup manchego cheese grated

Blind bake your tart shell at 400 degree’s for approximately 20 minutes, should be a light golden brown. Let cool.

Sprinkle half of the grated manchego on the bottom of the tart shell. Spoon in the vegetables and sprinkle the rest of the cheese on the top.

Place tart on baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, vegetables and cheese will be bubbling and the tart will be a lovely golden brown.

Serve with a medium boiled egg, what I mean by that is that it’s between soft and hard. To get this degree of doneness boil the egg for 5 minutes, remove from heat and run under cold water to stop the cooking process, peel and place on a piece of the tart. It’s delicious.

Tart with medium egg

Tart with medium egg



Minestrone And Meatball Soup With Tortellini

Hearty soup

Hearty soup

A few years ago I saw this recipe on Bourbon and Brown Sugar’s site. I immediately knew I had to make it. It’s a great recipe, simple to make, hearty and delicious. You can see the link above for the original recipe. I have adapted to my taste making a few alterations and substitutions but keeping with the basic premise of the original. The soup is a real meal, warm and filling and comforting. It is pretty much my favorite soup. I make this every year, many times over and it never fails, it’s a crowd pleaser and although I think it would freeze well I never seem to have any leftover at all. If you have never visited MB’s site and seen the gorgeous and delicious food she cooks up, do yourself a favor and check it out. I used to get notifications by email when she posted new recipes but it stopped so I just followed again. The photo’s are gorgeous and the recipes are delicious. Here is my adaptation of MB’s amazing Hearty Minestrone With Tortellin and Mini Meatballs:

Adapted from a recipe from Bourbon and Brown Sugar


1 lb ground beef

1 lb ground pork

1 heaping cup fresh breadcrumbs

1/2 cup grated cheese, parmigiano, romano or a mix

2 eggs

1/3 cup chopped parsley

1/3 cup water

salt and pepper

Pre heat oven to 375 degree’s and line a sheet pan with parchment. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl until all the ingredients are incorporated.

Spray a little oil on the parchment and start rolling small meatballs about the size of a quarter and line them up on the sheet pan. I used about half of the meat and froze the rest. It made 35 small meatballs. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until done and lightly browned.


1 smallish yellow onion chopped

1 shallot chopped

2 stalks celery chopped

2 carrots chopped

2 cloves garlic chopped

1 1/2 cup chopped (into bite size pieces) uncooked butternut squash

7-8 cups chicken broth

26 oz canned chopped or fresh tomatoes

a piece of rind from parmigiana cheese (always save the rind)

1 medium size zucchini washed and cut into bite size pieces

2 cups fresh baby spinach

1 15 oz can cannellini beans drained and rinsed

the cooked meatballs.

8 oz fresh tortellini

Heat some olive oil in a large dutch oven, add the onion, shallot, celery, carrot, garlic and butternut squash and cook until the vegetables become tender, it took about 15 minutes. Add the chicken broth, tomato and rind from the cheese. Bring to a boil and cook on medium heat for 30-45 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Add the beans, zucchini, spinach and meatballs and let simmer for about 30-35 minutes. Soup will be quite thick with all the ingredients. Add the tortellini at the end simmering for about 10 minutes and serve with some grated cheese and warm bread and butter,  a good glass of wine and a fresh salad make this an outstanding cold weather meal.






And The Winner Is….


Mary's secret Ingredients

Mary’s secret Ingredients

Thanks to all of you for commenting. I fed all the names into the handy dandy randomizer at and the winner is!!!

List Randomizer

There were 24 items in your list. Here they are in random order:

  1. Loretta
  2. Jeff
  3. Lynz

Congratulations Loretta, whose beautiful blog Safari of the Mind has some wonderfully delicious recipes  I will notify you by email and send your email address to the good people at Mary’s Secret Ingredients and they will contact you to get your address so they can send your box. Happy Eating and thank you!! Jeff and Lyn were close behind as you can see.

Loretta will be contacted by Mary Frances and will receive the box of goodies directly from her.

A Giveaway From Mary’s Secret Ingredients


My friend Mary Frances, you know her, she has the wonderful blog Love The Secret Ingredient and she also started Mary’s Secret Ingredients, a box full of great food items and a useful kitchen tool. Mary Frances highlights companies offering high quality gourmet foods and businesses that have wonderful products that you may not have heard of before, it’s the way to get the word out about their products and at the same time you are helping children, when you purchase a box from Mary a portion of the proceeds go to support “Feed the Children” Your box arrives beautifully packaged and chock full of goodies.

Mary Frances has kindly offered a Fall box to one lucky person who subscribes to my blog. I got my box but it’s a secret, you won’t know what’s in it until you receive it, shhhhhh…..

The drawing will be held on Wednesday October 7th. All you have to do is leave a comment here and thats all. The winner will be notified by email and I will announce it on Wednesday!!  The winner will be chosen with Feel free to tweet it or what have you but you don’t have to, a comment here is all that is necessary to be entered to win. This giveaway is for US Residents only, so sorry my International friends

Good luck everyone!!