Author: Trish Lobenfeld

Final Days Before the Wedding

Final Days Before the Wedding

 

It’s the final days before the wedding and we’re all at the “let’s party” moment and forget about planning! The wedding is two days away and we’re exhausted. The last-minute details are weighing on us all.

Margot had her final dress fitting on Saturday and we celebrated with lunch at Dos Caminos. Eric is picking up the dress today and bringing it home!

Final Days Before the Wedding

We dropped as much of the wedding paraphernalia as we could on Tuesday at the Club.

Final Days Before the Wedding

Dropping off goodie bags at the Hilton Garden Inn Norwalk for our guests.

Final Days Before the Wedding

Filled with water bottles, snacks, fruit and a hangover remedy kit with Advil, Pepto and Tic Tacs.

The program is done and we have these adorable bubbles to blow when the bride and groom walk down the aisle.

Final Days Before the Wedding

Tomorrow is the rehearsal dinner hosted by Roger and Jane Borchin at Craft 14 Restaurant + Bar. It’s a large party of 45, and a great way to kick start the weekend.

Final Days Before the Wedding

Saturday, the bridal party is off early to the hairdresser and then on to the Club for a light tea lunch and makeup.

The entire wedding party and family will arrive before 3pm and we’ll have the reveal, Margot presented to Andy in her dress and veil. Then tons of wedding pictures.

The wedding is at 5:30pm and Claire’s boyfriend Bryan is videotaping the ceremony on his phone so we can post it on YouTube for Grandma and Gramps. My parents are unable to attend, but we have cousins in Rochester who are spending the evening with them to watch the video and share a celebratory dinner. Thank you Bryan and Begys!!!

We’ll wrap up the weekend with a pool party brunch for our out-of-town guests, about 90, with wood-oven pizza, salad and dessert from Skinny Pines and later College Creamery, an ice cream truck, arrives for more sweets. We also have the makings for s’mores in the fire pit.

It’s an exciting weekend coming up!

The final MOB blog is all about the wedding weekend – stay tuned.

Grilled Bananas

Grilled Bananas

Grilled peaches, grilled plums, grilled watermelon, grilled pineapple – all pretty common. Grilled bananas??? That struck me as very different.

Grilled bananas are delicious and great for breakfast on cereal, granola, pancakes or waffles. They also make a great dessert over ice cream! Check out my ice cream cookbook here!

Grilled Bananas

The real key is not to use overly ripe bananas. A little green in the peel is best. If you want them sweeter, add a teaspoon or two of brown sugar to the melted butter before brushing the bananas.

Don’t forget to sprinkle with a little cinnamon right off the grill!

Watch the Grilled Bananas Video Here:

Triple-Chocolate Brownies

Triple-Chocolate Brownies

 

This recipe for triple-chocolate brownies has been in our family for generations. I believe this another of those recipes that got clipped from a weekly newspaper’s food column by one of my grandmothers. I’ve made adjustments to it over the years, using butter as opposed to margarine and adding chocolate chips and nuts.

Triple-Chocolate Brownies

The brownies are very moist and may be made a day in advance. Don’t cut them into squares until they are completely cool and hold their shape. Use an 8” x 8” x 2” square pan, lightly greased and you’ll end up with 16 two-inch square brownies.

The nuts are optional and if you have a group that is divided over nuts, sprinkle some on half the top and all will be happy.

Triple-Chocolate Brownies

These triple-chocolate brownies are quick and easy to make and a real crowd pleaser. Don’t hesitate to serve with a scoop of ice cream on the side!

Watch the Triple-Chocolate Brownies Video Here:


5.0 from 1 reviews
Triple-Chocolate Brownies
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert/Baked Good
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 16 two-inch brownies
 
Brownies are an all-time favorite and these triple- chocolate brownies bring three times the flavor! Quick and easy to prepare.
Ingredients
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup dark chocolate chips
  • ½ cup milk chocolate chips
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts, optional
Method
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Lightly grease an 8-inch by 8-inch by 2-inch baking pan.
  3. Place the butter and chocolate in a double boiler or microwave-safe bowl and melt over low heat, stirring occasionally. Once the butter is melted, take off heat to stir the chocolate to help it melt. Don’t let the mixture get too hot or the chocolate will seize.
  4. Stir in the sugar and vanilla extract, which helps cool the chocolate.
  5. Add eggs and vanilla and beat lightly. Beating too hard will incorporate air and create a less dense brownie.
  6. Stir in the flour mixing until all the flour has been incorporated.
  7. Stir in the chips and nuts, if using, until thoroughly blended.
  8. Spread mixture into the greased baking pan.
  9. Top the brownie batter with the walnuts, if desired.
  10. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes; the rownies are done when top looks cracked and the sides have pulled away slightly. A toothpick inserted in the middle should show a moist crumb.
  11. Cool and cut into squares.

 

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

 

Broccoli Cheddar Soup is a soup made with a roux, flour, butter and milk as a thickener. I often find that too much roux is used and the soup is pasty. So unappealing. Another problem these days is finding broccoli with full stalks. Stores are cutting them off and repurposing them for their deli or salad bar with broccoli slaws. This is a problem for me, because I only use stalks in my soup. I don’t care for the texture of the florets in the soup and I think they give the soup that bitter taste you get when you overcook broccoli.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Farmer’s markets are a great source for whole broccoli, but the season here is short. I am fortunate enough to have a wonderful grocer nearby, The Village Market (LINK) in Wilton CT that accommodates all requests and I can ask for a couple of whole heads. The florets are then steamed for dinner and I might even put a few tiny ones on the soup as a garnish.

Broccoli stalks can be a tad woody and it’s important to trim the ends and pare the outer layer to remove the tough skin.

The recipe calls for a minimal amount of salt. Saltiness of cheese and stock varies and it’s best to have all the ingredients incorporated first and then adjust the salt at the end.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

This broccoli Cheddar soup has a silky texture and delicate flavor. It freezes well, so make up a batch or two for future use. I like to use two-cup Mason jars; the perfect serving for one.

Watch the Broccoli Cheddar Soup Video Here:

 

Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Author: 
Recipe type: Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 10 2-cup portions
 
This broccoli Cheddar soup is super delicious, has a silky texture that hits the spot on any day. Use and extra-sharp cheddar!
Ingredients
  • 8 cups broccoli stalks, pared and chopped (8 stalks, florets removed)
  • 2 cups sliced onion (1 medium onion)
  • 1 cup sliced celery (2 large stalks)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cloves garlic (3 medium cloves)
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 6 ounces shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • several dashes of hot sauce, such as Cholulu or Siracha
  • GARNISH
  • Small broccoli florets, steamed, optional
Method
  1. Place broccoli, onion, celery, garlic, salt and stock/water in a large saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a gentle boil and cook for 20 minutes or until the broccoli is soft.
  3. Puree the soups in batches in a blender or food processor or in the saucepan with an immersion blender until smooth.
  4. Pour the pureed soup into another pourable container and wipe out the saucepan.
  5. Melt the butter in the saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle the flour over the butter and whisk until smooth.
  6. Slowly pour in the warm soup, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Bring to a gentle boil and cook another 2-3 minutes to eliminate the raw flour taste.
  7. Add the cheese and stir until completely melted.
  8. Shake in the hot sauce to taste; this gives the soup a boost, it doesn’t necessarily need to be spicy hot, but the sauce gives the soup piquancy.
  9. Soup freezes well.

 

The Personal Touch

The personal touch

 

 

Those Borchin/Crosbie girls are so talented. Jane, mother-of-the-groom and Susan, her sister, have added a wonderful personal touch to our upcoming wedding!

We’ve already experienced Susan’s delicious cookies on our wedding dress shopping trip. If you haven’t seen them, click here!

They made more cookies for the shower, in the signature lips and mustache theme the kids are using for their invitation. And the beautiful towel cake! Check those out here!

For the wedding, these two put their heads together once again and come up with more of that personal touch! They found a birdcage, decorated it and it will be used for the gift cards at the wedding. Beautiful and practical.

Borchin/Lobenfeld wedding

Aunt Susan lined a white basket and added purple bows for Aubree’s rose petals.

Borchin/Lobenfeld wedding

And, she made these gorgeous ring pillows for our two ring bearers, Rowan and Scarlett.

Borchin/Lobenfeld wedding

Jane and Susan have also volunteered to make toiletry baskets for both the Men’s and Ladies’ rooms. Our guests are sure to have everything they could possibly need at their fingertips!

We’re very lucky to be marrying into such a talented and thoughtful family. Thank you Jane and Susan!

Greek-Style Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Peppers

 

I was recently confronted with an abundance of multi-colored bell peppers. Peppers are funny ingredient. Unlike zucchini, another prolific crop, which is easily turned into quick breads and muffins, fritters and casseroles, peppers are rarely the star of the dish. Think of sausage with peppers and onions, fajitas come with sautéed peppers and there are so many recipes that call for peppers to be chopped or diced and added to other aromatics such as onions, garlic, celery and/or carrots as the foundation of a recipe. The only time they stand on their own is as a shell for stuffing. And this is where it gets interesting.

Stuffed Peppers

There are so many different ingredients to choose from. Ground meat of any type is suitable and also optional. There are a multitude of grains and beans to choose from. Add chopped vegetables and herbs and moisten with a sauce and top off with some crumbled or shredded cheese and you have a delicious entrée.

Watch the Greek-Style Stuffed Peppers Video Here:

 

Along with the peppers, I also had a few eggplants and decided to go with a Greek-style stuffed pepper. Start by sautéing some ground lamb and diced onion with salt and pepper. Stir in garlic, oregano and just a bit of cinnamon. To keep it moist, I added a thawed pint of tomato sauce I’d made earlier in the season. Cube the eggplant and toss in couple of cups along with more of those bell peppers cut into small pieces. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes. To finish in a traditional Greek style stir in chopped Kalamata olives and crumbled Feta cheese.

Stuffed Peppers

While the sauce simmers, slice off the tops and remove the core, seeds and membrane and season the insides with a sprinkle of kosher salt and a grind or two of fresh pepper.

I intended to freeze the stuffed peppers in batches for future use and needed to
partially cook the yellow bell peppers that would house the filling. The pre-cooking step deactivates the ripening enzymes to ensure that the peppers retain their color, shape and flavor.

Stuffed Peppers

Place the prepared bell peppers upright in a baking dish. and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Pop in the microwave on high for 3 minutes or until slightly softened. Stuff each shell with the filling.

Greek-Style Stuffed Peppers
Author: 
Recipe type: Main Course
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 6-8 servings
 
Use the abundance of vegetables at the farmers’ market to make these delicious and eye-appealing Greek-style stuffed peppers with lamb or to keep it vegan, use a grain such as orzo or quinoa in lieu of the lamb. Keep it colorful and use a variety of colors!
Ingredients
  • 8 bell peppers, tops removed, seeds, ribs and stems removed, save tops
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • Filling
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 ½ cups minced onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano or 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon minced cloves garlic (3 medium cloves)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups eggplant, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 cup chopped bell peppers, any color
  • 1 can (15.5 ounces) fired roasted tomatoes or a pint of tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup chopped Kalamata olives
  • ¼ cup feta cheese crumbles
Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Grease a 9- by 13-inch casserole dish
  3. Lined baking sheet to catch any spills
  4. Season the inside of each bell pepper with a sprinkle of kosher salt and a grind or two of fresh pepper. Place upright in a baking dish.
  5. Note: If you are making in advance and planning to freeze, cover tightly with plastic wrap. Pop in the microwave on high for 3 minutes or just until slightly softened.
  6. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the lamb and onions, using the edge of a wooden spoon to break up the meat into a crumbly mix. Cook until the meat is no longer red.
  7. Stir in the oregano, garlic and cinnamon and cook for 30 seconds.
  8. Add the eggplant, peppers and tomatoes or tomato sauce and bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
  9. Stir in the olives and feta off heat and stuff each pepper with the filling.
  10. Cover tightly with foil and place on a lined baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, one hour for frozen peppers.

 

Spaghetti and Shrimp with Spicy Pesto

Classic Pesto

 

The recipe for Spaghetti and Shrimp with Spicy Pesto didn’t start out with pepper flakes. It never even occurred to pair pepper flakes with pesto. However, when I was sautéing the zucchini and shrimp I forgot I wasn’t making a butter sauce and sprinkled in the spice. It was one of those “aha moments” – spicy pesto is delicious!

Sauté zucchini and shrimp and crushed red pepper flakes in olive, add pesto and combine, stir in cooked spaghetti, garnish with cherry tomatoes and you’re done! Click here for the Classic Pesto recipe.

Classic Pesto

Watch the Spaghetti and Shrimp with Spicy Pesto Here:


Spaghetti and Shrimp with Spicy Pesto
Author: 
Recipe type: Pasta
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 4 servings
 
Spice things up with this spaghetti and shrimp dish with spicy pesto!
Ingredients
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium zucchini cut in quarters lengthwise and then in ½-inch cubes
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 pound large shrimp (16-20 count), peeled and deveined
  • ⅛ teaspoon crushed pepper flakes
  • 1 cup pesto sauce
  • pasta water, as needed
  • GARNISH
  • Sliced cherry tomatoes
Method
  1. Cook the spaghetti according to the package instructions. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta liquid before draining.
  2. In the meantime, heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat.
  3. Stir in the zucchini and salt and cook stirring occasionally for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the shrimp and crushed pepper flakes, cook stirring occasionally until shrimp are pink and firm – about 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in the pesto sauce and ¼ cup of the reserved pasta liquid. Stir to loosen. Add the pasta, stir to combine and add as much pasta liquid as need to coat the spaghetti evenly.

 

Classic Pesto

Pesto

 

When basil is at its peak, the bunches are huge and plentiful. I scoop up tons and bring them home to make pesto; batch after batch. I freeze in one-cup portions, which is perfect for a pound of pasta.

Don’t limit yourself to pasta, though. Pesto is delicious over grilled chicken, just put a good dollop over each cutlet. I also like to use it in a caprese salad – instead of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, little dabs of pesto on the tomatoes and cheese is a fantastic variation.

Grill some eggplant rounds and stack with mozzarella, roasted red peppers and slather a little pesto on each layer.

Pesto

Here’s some tips to making pesto. Young basil (thin stems) use both the stem and the leaves. Remove tough stems on mature basil. Pine nuts are the classic nut used in traditional pesto, but don’t hesitate to use walnuts or almonds. Be sure to toast your nuts to maximize flavor!

Pesto

Keep nuts in the refrigerator or freezer to prevent spoilage. Use the lemon juice not only for flavor, but it also prevents the pesto from turning black when mixed with hot food.

See our Spaghetti with Shrimp in Spicy Pesto recipe here.

Head out to the garden or the local farmer’s market and bring home the basil!

Watch the Pesto Video Here:

 

Classic Pesto
Author: 
Recipe type: Sauce
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 2 cups
 
Classic pesto made from fresh basil is a multipurpose sauce. Make large batches and freeze for year-round use! Use on chicken, fish and vegetables.
Ingredients
  • 4 cups fresh basil
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Garnish: quartered cherry tomatoes
Method
  1. Place the basil, cheese, nuts, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor. Pulse to chop up the ingredients.
  2. Turn the processor to “on” and slowly pour the oil through the spout until an emulsion forms.
  3. Store in an airtight container with a piece of plastic on top of the pesto to keep the oxygen out.

The Wedding Shower

 

I sat in my hotel room waiting for Claire – we were on our way to Margot’s Wedding Shower! I hadn’t given much thought to the event because Claire kindly handle everything, from LA, freeing up more time for me to devote to the wedding planning. In those quiet few minutes, I realized what a milestone this day was.

I had a sneak preview the day before of the details Claire created and was excited to see her vision come to fruition. She had so many thoughtful and beautiful details worked out. And Bryan, Claire’s boyfriend, executed her ideas creating beautiful graphics on all her “props.” I was excited to participate in such an important day for Margot. Frankly, I was beaming with pride for both of my girls, and the anticipation of the day was thrilling.

Claire and I got to the venue an hour before the shower to set up. The event was held at Talaula’s Garden in Washington Square, Philadelphia. It was a hot and very humid day, so the event was inside. A pity because they have such a lovely outdoor garden. However, the restaurant is adorable and the AC was much appreciated.

From the minute we walked into the venue, we were warmly greeted and told to make ourselves at home. The florist was putting the finishing touches on the tables.

Claire went around and put the table names, menu card at each setting.

Including a clever ad libs she created especially for Margot “Marg Libs,” that everyone got to help her write her vows to Andy!

I put up the sign “Margot is getting married.”

Lined up the Prosecco splits with the adorable straw attached with a flag that read “Sip Sip Hurray!”

Jane (Andy’s Mom) and Susan (Jane’s sister) contributed their own homemade touch to the décor. These two are amazing. They made a beautiful towel cake, which I had never heard of!

They also made dozens and dozens of mustache and lip cookies! This is the theme of their save-the-date card and wedding invitation.

While we were working, I watched a women assemble a beautiful cheese spread. It was as artistic in design as it was in taste.

Our first guest was very special. Across the street from their childhood home, were twins – Erica and Kristina. They felt like my own children. They’ve moved away to their respective jobs and we don’t get to see them often, so having Erica there was wonderful. We spent lots of time just hugging, trying to make up for lost time.

More friends and family poured through the door and the party was on. Margot showed att 11:15 – the shower wansn’t a surprise, but the location was.

A very happy, excited girl!

Hors d’oeuvres

Spanakopita with yogurt
Hummus on crisp chickpea canapés (VEGAN)
Saffron arancini with lemon aioli

Specialty Cocktail

A gin-St. Germain-cucumber drink that is fizzy (either with soda water or sparkling wine) and Bloody Marys.

Wine 

Walnut Block “Collectables” Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Marlborough, NZ
Domaine du Chapitre Côtes du Rhône 2015 L’Ardeche, FR
Rosé

Claire also arranged for “Pop Up Polaroids” to come and take photos during cocktails, including some fun props. Everyone got into the spirit and we have loads of great group photos in addition to the ones I took.

Luncheon Menu

Then it was present time. No wilting flower, Margot enthusiastically and emotionally opened so many wonderful and thoughtful gifts. While Margot loves receiving gifts, you should know that the smallest present is as much appreciated as something monumental. She realizes that a gift is a reflection of affection and she is so appreciative of every little detail.

It was fun to watch her facial expressions, tears of joy and her innate silliness. This particular picture shows just what a nut she is – they got a pet hair vacuum and she’s hugging it!

It was a perfect day filled with so much love and laughter and there is nothing better than being surrounded by your closed family and friends.

Both MOB (me) and MOG (Jane) were delighted with the outcome!

Grilled Boneless Chicken Thighs

Grilled Boneless Chicken Thighs

 

This is the final video in our mini grilled chicken series: Grilled Boneless Chicken Thighs.

When you remove the bone from the thigh, the meat is thin and cooking time is quick. The thigh still retains some fat and remains moist. The flavorful meat is good with only salt and pepper and a little oil to prevent sticking. Also try different marinades and rubs.

Grilled Boneless Chicken Thighs

I like to use the grilled boneless chicken thighs in sandwiches. Choose a nice bun or good bread and use your favorite condiment or condiments, pile on the lettuce and tomatoes and a few slices of dill pickle. The perfect sandwich!

Tune in to Honeypie’s Recipes YouTube Channel to view the Grilled Chicken Mini Series playlist!

Watch the Grilled Boneless Chicken Thighs Video Here

Quick Marinade Trick

Quick Marinade Trick

 

This quick marinade trick was a fluke. Many years ago I was making Rosh Hannah dinner. One cousin doesn’t care for red meat and won’t eat the brisket. I always make something else as a second entrée. One year I was running behind and needed something quick. I grilled chicken and as soon as the chicken came into rest I poured an herbed lemon juice over the chicken. The resting time allows the denatured proteins to coagulate again and when they do, they trap liquid. The salty juices from the chicken and now the lemon, thyme and garlic from the quick marinade.

My cousin and her husband loved the dish and she asked for the recipe. When I told her what I did, she didn’t want to believe me. It was too simple for something that tasted that good!

Quick Marinade Trick

You can do this, too. Simply juice a lemon, throw in some thyme sprigs and smash a garlic clove and toss these together. Pour this over the chicken after grilling and let rest for 5 minutes. Use lime juice and garlic – sprinkle with chopped cilantro for something different.

These are just two quick and easy suggestions for a quick marinade trick!

Watch the Quick Marinade Trick Video Here:

 

Grilled Onions

grilled onions, Red Onion Rings

 

Cooking onions highlights their inherent sweetness. Making grilled onions does that and adds a lovely charred flavor so distinctive of the grill.

It’s a simple thing to make grilled onion rings, but frustrating. No matter how hard you try to keep the onion slice in one piece, it eventually softens and falls apart. Then the onion rings begin to fall through the grates and all is lost.

Now I use a vegetable grill tray. Don’t ask why it took so long to get one of these – it changed my life!

Red Onion Rings

Slice and separate the onion rings. Toss with a little oil, salt and pepper, and strew the rings over the vegetable grill tray. Place on the hot grill, cover and cook for a couple of minutes. Turn and cook a little more. Keep turning and cooking until you get the desired doneness. I like some to have a little char on them, but still have some texture.

These are perfect for fajitas, hamburgers or toss over any grilled meat or vegetable.

Watch the Grilled Onion Rings Video Here: