Wednesday, September 28, 2011


What  was the best day of your life?

If a young married woman without children doesn't answer "My wedding day!" then she's a shithead, right? But seriously? So nervous you can barely eat, all the while people keep force feeding you champagne so you'll loosen up. By the time the reception rolls around, you're STARVING, but can't eat any of the canapés it took you 3 weeks to decide on (cue Bethenny Frankel screaming to Jason, "Beef tar tar! BEEF tar tar!) because 

A)you're about to barf from an empty belly full of bubbles, and 

B) you're trapped in a one-sided conversation at table 9 nodding and smiling to some Great Aunt who you've maybe met twice when you were 8 years old. 

Thanks for the $75 check, by the way. 

Not to mention the pressure to look prettier and skinnier than you ever have before. Trying desperately to stay in the moment, but knowing that one tear could destroy your $150 make-up job.  Then there's the wedding night: expectations no man could meet, and shouldn't feel he needs to. And let's be honest, there's no way he's gonna top the infamous night of cucumber vodka and strip-Wii bowling, so why even bother? Still remember it as the best day of your life???
Man and [starving] Wife.
Maui, 9/14/08
If a mother, without any hesitation, doesn't answer "The day my child[ren] was/were born! Of course!" Oh, forget it. COMPLETE shithead. But really? The BEST day of my life...?
Everything in place for a natural birth, I labored at home with Nora for 5 full days. I was sent away from the birthing center 3 times before my meconium-laced water broke in triage and I was checked into the labor and delivery floor of the hospital. I arrived a sweaty, bloated, greasy-haired mess. I hadn't eaten anything but applesauce and pudding cups for 72 hours as I started to be pumped full of drugs that I deliriously agreed to. I mean it was what was "best for the baby" after all. After 6 more hours and no progress, due to a fever (mine) and a heart rate dip (Nora), I was rushed to the OR for a semi-emergency c-section. She arrived safely and was amazing, gorgeous perfection. I couldn't eat for another day and a half, and every hour or so, nurses came in to change my "diaper." My nipples were raw, I still couldn't feel my feet, and dinner was all-you-can-eat ice chips. Good night. I mean, Good Get Up Every Hour. What a GREAT day.
With Penelope, I just went ahead and scheduled the c-section. I made it to the OR this time in lashes and full beat. I felt better about "Birthday Pictures," but was shivering with fear and frozen with regret. Had I really OPTED for this? Major surgery? What if something went wrong? And then I went numb. And then I threw up. And then I started balling. And then I threw up again. And then I met her. Amazing, gorgeous perfection. But it didn't change the fact that I felt like a magician's assistant after a trick that had gone HORRIBLY wrong. It was the first full day and night I had ever been away from Nora and my heart literally ached from missing her so badly. Well, either that or it was hunger pains. Good night. I mean, well,  Good--you know... (sigh) Another friggin' gem of a day.
And the following days ,except for the endless supply of Percocet, weren't much better. The first 2 solid months (maybe more) as the mother of 2 under 2 it felt like things were going from bad to worse. How could this be possible? Our family was complete. This was supposed to be...everything. But it was...awful. It was awful. Every time someone asked me how it was going, I wanted to quote Ron Livingston in Office Space, "...every single day of my life has been worse than the day before it. So that means that every single day you see me...that's on the worst day of my life." And that's how I felt. I was Peter Gibbons. But fatter. And...leakier. Every night I went to bed in complete amazement that I had actually survived the day. So proud that I had resisted the urge, yet again, to drown myself in the bathtub. Ha! Like I actually had the time for a bath. Good one. On the rare occasion that I made it out, somewhere super glam like the grocery store or the park, random people kept stopping me saying, "This is truly the best never get these moments back..." Are you sniffing glue or am I being Punk'd right now? I mean, fa real-fa real, if this is really the case throw me my ATM card and show me the door. COME ON. Projectile sour milk and turkey burger curry baby shit simultaneously running down my Juicy sweatsuit while I'm being screamed at for Goldfish. And Jeremy's at work. In Connecticut. Oh, and I'm wearing a jumbo maxi pad. Um, can go ahead and take these moments back. I'm all set. It was like there wan't enough, yet too many hours in any given day. I didn't have 2 minutes to brush my teeth, but the span between breakfast and bedtime seemed eternal.
But just...happened. The postpartum solstice. The sun seemed to stay out just a little bit longer each day. The belly flub shrunk down enough and I could finally trim my own bush. And it happened. My infant looked at me for the first time. Not thorough me. AT me.  And then she smiled. Not smiled then farted. Just smiled. At ME! In response to some idiotic goo goo ga ga face I made! (exhale) Approval. And then, the best of all. Just as I was coming off a night where I was about 5 minutes away from throwing some underwear in my Gucci fanny pack and heading for the highway Marie Osmond-style, I woke up. I stopped. I got a glass of water. I took a deep breath and a long look around me. I saw my daughters. Entertaining each other on my living room rug. Giggling. Sharing. I watched as my DAUGHTERS became SISTERS before my very eyes. I have known Nora and Pats inside and out of me since "peach pit" stage and now here they were. Kind. Loving. BEAUTIFUL. And that was it. THAT was the best da--WAIT. Then Pats crapped on the carpet. Then Nora banged her chin on her rocking horse, started screaming bloody murder, and the day kinda went downhill from there. And there's my point. Every day as a wife and mother is going to have it's highs and lows. It's about savoring the MOMENTS. Marrying Jeremy. The birth of Nora. The day Pats was born and made our family whole. These are the 3 best MOMENTS of my life and have forever changed me for the better. Instantly. The 3 best DAYS? That probably has something to do with Lallapalooza circa 1998. Now THAT was a fucking good time.

Amazing, gorgeous perfection. And the babies are cute too. My first days with Nora Bella and Penelope Shayne ("Pats")
And now, make this breakfast for some overnight guests or another couple over for brunch and you very well may be at the helm of truly the best day of your life! I first made this dish for my in-laws, then again this past weekend for our very good friends Jenn and Curtis who hosted us at their "Blue House" in the Catskills. A simple and delicious hit on both occasions. So easy. So good. This recipe feeds 4 hungry adults and a couple toddlers. But if you eat like a normal human and not a lactating animal like me, it may feed up to 6 adults. 

This is the best bacon ever! I use a whole pound. I bake off half of it in the oven, then put in the french toast, then another tray of bacon. You'll need the second tray, it goes fast. If there is any leftover its beyond delicious on a turkey sandwich.
Here it is:
1 lb bacon -don't get the super thick cut, it takes too long in the oven
2-4 tbsp of fresh rosemary (I've made it with dry, but fresh is really best in this case)
1/4 cup or so of brown sugar
fresh ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lay out half of the bacon on a cooling rack sitting a top a baking sheet lined with foil. Sprinkle each slice with a little brown sugar (too much or too little isn't gonna hurt, I trust your judgement!), black pepper and rosemary. Bake in oven for 12 minutes. My mouth is watering typing even I've eaten this 3 days in a row. I'm seeking help. Thank you.
While the bacon's baking off..throw together your:
1 loaf of challah bread  (use 3/4 for the recipe, save the other 1/4 for a sandwich later or for the kids to snack on)
10 eggs, beaten
2 oranges, zested (you only need the zest for the recipe, squeeze the juice for mimosas!)
1 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 c sugar
1/4 c cream, half and half, milk, whatever
2 tbsp butter, diced
Spray a loaf pan with non stick cooking spray. Slice up 3/4 of the challah into bite size cubes. "Smoosh" it into the loaf pan. It should be tight. In a large bowl beat the eggs, cream, 1/2 the sugar (so 1/4 of a cup), cardamom and ginger. Pour egg mixture over the bread. Sprinkle the top with remaining sugar and diced butter. Your bacon should be done. Place on a platter and cover with foil. Bake french toast in the same 450 degree oven for 20 minutes, then cover with foil and bake an additional 5-10 minutes. You want the top to be crispy and brown and the center to be set. Take to the table with the first round of bacon. Serve with good maple syrup, although you may not even need it!Assemble the second round of bacon as french toast bakes, then cook off as your guests are eating. Rock star. Best wife ever. Your friends will flock. Get ready. Immediate awesomeness. Congrats.

Monday, September 26, 2011


I have little to no interest in drinking after the sun goes down. It makes be tired, but not sleepy... It makes me a little nauseous.... Also, both my girls tend to wake up through the night and need to be nursed back to slumber. (I know, I know. That’s a no-no. A 6 month old should probably be sleep trained and a 2 year old should be off the tit. But it’s what works for us. I never said I was a doctor or a child-rearing maven, right?) Anyhoo- I need to be sober and available for my kids throughout the night. That being said, a few months ago I started my own private happy hour which begins and ends sometime in the window of 1-5pm. I allow myself 2 cocktails. By cocktails, that usually means vodka in a glass with ice. I enjoy my libations only either when I’m home alone (Gock and Mimi have taken the girls to the park), or Jeremy/other responsible party is around to make sure Nora doesn’t climb into the dishwasher and Pats isn’t choking on invisible pony tail holders. It clears my head a bit, [surprisingly] motivates me to get household work done, and just gives me a little boost to get through dinner/bath/bedtime without having a full blown meltdown. Again, I live in NYC. I can get anywhere I need to go by foot or train. I’m certainly not suggesting you pound a couple MGD 64s, hop into the Swagger Wagon, and take the whole gang to Target. Also, I never get to the point where I couldn’t deal with an emergency. 2 straight vodkas might sound like a lot to you, but trust me- I’ve had a lot of practice. 
I’ll also own up to another fun fact: I’m obsessed with food. I mean, obvi. I write recipes, cook, bake...but that’s not what I mean. I’m obsessed with food in the way a lot (well, probably the majority) of women are. I’m eating too much. I’m eating to little. I’m glued to “My Fitness Pal” counting calories and eating fat free cheese slices all day or I’m eating 4 Beard Papas in a sitting and whole bag of Baked Kettle Chips. I mean, they’re baked so... I don’t know. It gives me some sort of power to control what I put in my body, for better or for worse. Whether it makes me feel shitty in the end or not, it was my choice. It gives me...well, it gives me CONTROL. Janet Jackson wasn’t just whistlin’ Dixie. Its what we all want. It makes us feel strong and powerful and commanding. 
When chaos surrounds us (kids, work, a recent break-up), and we’re hanging by a thread (for me this is at least once a day), our natural instinct is to grasp for something to hold on to. And, different folks have different ropes. As I just confessed, mine are traditionally food and booze. For a lot of people it’s OCD cleaning. You think if your counter is clutter free, you’re head can’t be far behind. Other moms become fixated on  their child’s appearance. You want your kids to appear perfect on the outside because you feel like a hot tranny mess on the inside. By the way, if you are one of these women and are for hire let me know! [Sober] housekeeping isn’t exactly my forte and most days I’m lucky to find a pair of socks that match for Nora, let alone a perfectly coordinating barrette.
Day beers while running errands with Papa while the girls take a stroller snooze.
Being in control IS important. Finding a healthy outlet (both mentally and physically) is most important. My new thing is giving myself a weekly 10 minute manicure. I have an awesome super quick dry top coat by Sally Hansen (LITERALLY takes less than 5 minutes to dry) and a bag full of fun polish. I choose the color by the name and it kinda sets the tone for the week. Right now, I’m wearing “Dive Bar” by ESSIE. It reminds me of 10 years ago, living in the East Village and Brooklyn spending every night at Beauty Bar or the Turkey’s Nest. Laughing my ass off with Rachel Cimino and eating egg sandwiches at 4am. That’s quite an escape from just a little bottle of metallic blue liquid! And, a whole lot healthier than eating 3 cupcakes in the dark that were supposed to be for your kid’s birthday party, or working out on the elliptical in the basement till you feel like you’re gonna barf. If you’re falling into patterns that you’d be embarrassed to publicly discuss, chances are you may be heading down a dangerous path. I don’t know where this leaves me, because clearly I have no shame in admitting to the world [wide web] that I eat frosting out of the container on a regular basis or had a beer with second breakfast last week. PS- “Second Breakfast.” My favorite meal of the day. We’ll discuss sometime in the near future. The truth is: The things we use to stay in control are usually the things that are, in fact, controlling us.
Stay open and aware. Amidst the craziness, communication is the key. Don’t think you’re burdening people (ESPECIALLY other moms/women) with your daily woes. Most likely a friend, lover, parent, sister, aunt...random blogger...have been through the same thing or are also looking for a vent. TALK. IT. OUT. Or, write it out. I’ve said it before- I’m not an “expert” but I am a person. A person with  I’m happy to listen to/read any and all of your rants. 
In conclusion, a very wise man once said: “...check yo self before you wreck yo self.” And more importantly, check yo self before your kids start to notice and you you end up fucking them up for good. I must be preeeeetty easy to let that happen. I mean, look at all the fucked up people YOU know. Yikes.

Happily pinned down between Nora and Pats. 
And now two quick snacks that are:

practically impossible to fuck up and
totally guilt-free and binge-worthy treats
So slap on a coat of “I’m Not Really a Waitress” and curl up in front of Real Housewives and enjoy!
I think “light” microwave popcorn kinda sucks, just boring. And regular just has too much fat and isn’t worth it to me. Here’s a couple quick ideas to give plain old popcorn a little spanking while still keeping your diet on track. Pop it up, spray with a little cooking spray and top with some of these ideas...
*When my sister, Jill and I were kids I always remember my mom shaking a little parmesan cheese on our popcorn. I still do that, but now add oregano and red pepper flakes too. Maybe enjoy with a little chianti? Buon appetito!
*Several years ago, my friend Kara and I spent a crazy summer working in San Francisco together. We shared a lot of late nights and she introduced me this post-party snack. Top the pop with this Asian rice seasoning called: Forikake. I like the nori (seaweed) one. Its a really interesting flavor you may not have tasted before. I would sip a clean drink along side it. Probably a citron vodka with club soda. One of my standards!
*For a sweet and salty craving, try 1tsp of sugar mixed with 1/2 tsp on cinnamon. Wash it down with some fun beer. Like a seasonal apricot or pumpkin.
My daughter Nora is an awesome eater, but not really a fruit gal. Something about the texture, I think. But home girl LOVES ice cream and anything that resembles it. I came up with this idea over the summer:
Instead of using juice, fill up ice pop molds (you can find them at any Wal-Mart/Target kind of store and usually for under $2), with jarred baby food! One jar fills one pop almost exactly. Bananas or a mixture with bananas are particularly delish. When it freezes, it takes on this super creamy texture that I SWEAR is almost like ice cream. And, are you ready??? Each pop is 80 calories! No fake sugar, just fruit! So good. And you could seriously eat 4 of them for the equivalent of about one doughnut!
"Hm. It's not ice cream, but It'll do. I guess." Nora enjoying a pop with her buddy, Kylie.

***I know I’m being light-hearted, but issues regarding food and alcohol can become VERY serious. If you find yourself really struggling and it’s bigger than a “talk-it-out” PLEASE get help. ***
Alcoholics Anonymous

Saturday, September 24, 2011


I’m a public breastfeeder. Shocking, I know. I own exactly zero sensible nursing tops, nor do I own one of those cover-up apron thingies. We’re constantly on the go, I’m still nursing both Pats and Nora and when it’s feedin’ time on the farm, I’m just whipping one out. There’s just no time when we’re out and about for a big ritual. I’m super blessed that both girls were awesome eaters from the get go. They’re super efficient. The whole process takes under 10 minutes. I have no interest in listening to my children howl for food, nor do I find big wet milk stains on my American Apparel particularly attractive. I’ve fed these girls just about everywhere: subway, park, restaurants, discount department store chains, Toronto City Hall...ya know. Normally nobody says boo. Rarely do I get even a lingering stare let alone an eye roll. And ONCE in a blue moon I even get a “That’s so beautiful. Good for you.” 
I live in New York City. You are never the craziest or strangest looking person in any given place at any given moment. Just yesterday, I saw a man laying on the ground in Riverside Park. His T-shirt was pulled up around his neck and he had an EKG sticker in his chest. He was...sleeping...?...I guess? Honestly, I would’ve sworn he were dead until my curious gaze led me to his Little Mister flopped over the side of his unzipped fly spraying his personal Golden Arch upon the grass. Ba da da da dah. Not loving it. Hm. Now that I’m actually typing this out, that sounds pretty bad. I probably should’ve made a call or’m sure he’s fine. Anyhoo- needless to say, in the city that never sleeps, pulling out a boob on a bench doesn’t exactly raise eyebrows.
Aaaaaand cue the ‘burbs! Here’s a gem:

I was visiting my parents in Doylestown, PA- the smallish town where I was born and raised about an hour north of Philadelphia. One sunny afternoon, my dad and I (“Gock” to Nora and Pats) decided to walk into town to grab a Primo for lunch. Sidebar: PRIMO HOAGIES. Best hoagies evahhhhh. On THE BEST bread. So fresh. When they run out, they close. Love that. I’m partial to Nonna’s Veggie and The Bada Bing (grilled), but you really can’t go wrong with anything there. OK, back on topic-
We grab our sandwiches and head for home. Pats, then 2 months old, begins to fit a bit and is ready to eat. So I sat down on the bench at the corner of Court and Main, fed her,  finished up, and we were on our way. We‘re two blocks away from the shop and a woman starts running up behind me trying to get my attention. “Excuse me! Excuse me!” I think I must’ve dropped a burp cloth or something.
ME: “Yeeeees?”
HER: “Can I give you some ‘constructive criticism?’”
ME: “Ummm, ok...”
HER: “You might wanna think about covering yourself up a bit when you do that, ya know,  feed your baby. It’s lunchtime and this is a busy street.”
ME: “Yes, it is lunch time which is exactly WHY I was ‘doing that.’” 
HER: “Well, I don’t know where you’re from, but people around here aren’t used to that.”
ME: (May I?) “I appreciate your opinion. (Not really constructive criticism, but whatever.) To coverup or not is my choice. I prefer to look my daughter in the eye when I feed her. a) to bond, b) to insure that she isn’t smothered by my now F cup boobs. Thank you, but we’re fine.” (PS- I’m from HERE, bi-otch.)
HER: “Um...ok...well, I guess I’m just old school.”
ME: “Well... I guess I’m just OLDER school, cause I’m pretty sure moms have been pulling out their tits in the marketplace since before Jesus was born.”
In the end, she was such a pussy. She backed off, saying I was right and it wasn’t SHE who was offended, but maybe I was making other people uncomfortable. Thanks for sticking up for the common man, lady. Who are you? So. Lame. Grow a pair already! You CHASED ME DOWN THE BLOCK, then you fold like a house of cards? Idiot. She wished me a nice day, I politely did the same. Gock yelled after her, “FUUUUCK YOU!” Ya know, just to keep it classy in from of the kids.
I really just don’t get it. I don’t. Well, I guess I do. People view boobs as a sexual thing and it makes them uncomfortable. But in the context of feeding a child??? Looking at that sexually, boggles me. Like how now if a kid is on TV in the bathtub or whatever and they BLUR OUT his or her “private parts?” Seriously? Because of the handful of sickos out there who view that in a sexual way? So weird. It disturbs me. You can slap a woman, curse God, and harass two men for holding hands in public and no one cares. But ya whip out a nip to nourish your baby and all of a sudden you’re ruining everyone’s lunch. Ugh. Whatever, lady. Enjoy your hoagie. And your pleat front jeans, which in my opinion is the REAL offense here.
with my friend Danni and Nora (2 months old) exercising my rights on the Upper West Side, 2009
Ok, ok. Enough about tits. Let’s talk thighs! Chicken thighs! Boneless, skinless chicken thighs to be exact. I was a breast gal forever. Like most girls, I think. All white meat. No fat. Seems like the healthiest choice. But truthfully, 1 thigh is under 150 calories and in my opinion is way yummier. I use these all the time now. Here’s the basics:
Spread out thighs and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Heat a grill pan to medium high heat. Cook for about 5 minutes in each side. I always cut a meaty part open to check if they’re done. 
Here’s some ways I’ve recently topped ‘em:
*Add cinnamon to the salt and pepper. Sautee a bulb of fennel and 1 vidalia onion, thinly sliced in a couple tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tbsp of butter. Top the thighs and enjoy with a sweet potato and a salad. Try it with a spiced rum and ginger ale. 
*Add chopped fresh sage, salt and pepper to a half stick of butter. When chicken comes off the grill, drop a pat on each thigh. So good with a side of brown rice with dried cranberries and parm tossed in. Enjoy while sipping your favorite red wine.
*Chop up the thighs, mix with your fave BBQ sauce, fill a soft roll and top with cole slaw or pickles or both. A good substitute for a twist on a pulled pork sandwich if you don’t have 12 hours to smoke a pork butt. Wash it down with a Blue Moon with an orange slice.
*Chop and fill a small corn or whole wheat tortilla. A little cheese, a little cilantro... pour yourself a Skinnygirl Margarita.

Get creative gals! Do what you want with your thighs...just like your boobies.

Friday, September 23, 2011


Ok. Confession: I’m really...just not into the playground. It’s boring. I don’t like standing around. Not really into the slide. The chest pains and full body sweats in anticipation of a black top tumble? No thanks. I find it lame and quite literally unbelievable that the moment your child popped out (or was carved out in my cases) all of one’s previous interests immediately change. Browsing Loehmann’s and day drinking has all of a sudden been replaced by pushing a swing till your arm goes dead and mediating squabbles over sidewalk chalk? Really? Fine. If that’s your bag, more power to you. I prefer to tell the truth: The playground sucks. Nora, my two year old, the playground craps gold. It’s her Utopia. Her eyes begin to twinkle and she cracks her little crooked smile every time we roll through those iron gates. And I love that. So I go. And I cheer her on, beaming, as she exclaims, “I did it!” and “Watch me!” and “I try?” It’s freaking adorable. And it’s the right thing to do.  Which leads me to my rant-
If you’re gonna be there, BE THERE. GET OFF YOUR MOTHERHUMPIN’ BLACKBERRY AT THE PLAYGROUND! I’m so sick of feeling responsible for your kid who’s about to take a header off the pirate ship because you’re flipping through your Groupons. What are you doing? Seriously. Tweeting about how he’s throwing sand in my daughter’s face or almost got a Stride Rite to the teeth running in front of the swings? No, you’re not, cause you’re not even watching. What’s a toddler’s attention span for the playground on a good day? An hour? TOPS? If you can’t be off your phone for ONE HOUR during the whole’s’re just...well your WAY more important than me and most likely so super busy you’d never be reading my silly little blog. Look, treat your child as you please. You’re being rude to ME. And to the other parents who are trying with all our might to fake enthusiasm for a “so cool” pebble our kid just found when we’d really rather be at brunch. You’re being an asshole. And that’s why your child throws sand, and cuts in line for the slide, and pushes little girls, and asshole. And you would know this if you looked up every once in a while. Take the smart phone out to snap a super cute shot of your munchkin every now and then. And post it on Facebook. LATER. At least have the respect to wait till she’s in her stroller, facing away from you to ignore her completely. Asshole.
OK...fine. Maaaaaaybe I’ve checked my news feed once or twice. Maaaaaybe I’ve played a round or two of Angry Birds. Maybe I’ve been an asshole, too. There. I admit it. This is to keep myself in check as well. Pobody’s nerfect. So now, it’s time to redeem ourselves! Instead of cracking open a box of powdered mac and cheese for lunch (I know, you get the one at Whole Foods with the bunnies so it’s not as bad. I get it) try this homemade recipe. I PROMISE you: once you do this a few times and get the prep down it will barely take any more time than the box, you’ll have leftovers for the entire week, and there are ENDLESS variations which makes it like a million recipes in one. It also makes me feel good that I put forth a little extra effort to do something for my girls. And now I’m turning it around and making it about me. Shocker.
1 lb box of any short pasta (elbows, penne, shells, rotini, whatever. I like to use a whole grain one, but use whatever you like. )
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
2 c milk (whole, 2%, skim, I’ve tried them all and they all work fine)
2 cups cheese, shredded (Whatever you like. For the basic I usually use a mild cheddar or colby-jack or mozzarella.You’ll see later how to switch it up with different fancier cheeses)
1 1/2 tsp salt (for this basic recipe I don’t add black pepper. I like the color to be neutral)
1/2 tsp onion powder
While the pasta boils in salted water, (usually 8-10 minutes) start the sauce.
Melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk flour into the butter and let cook for a minute or so. You’re making a roux, a thickener. You’re just cooking out the raw flour taste. Add the milk and bring to a bubble. When the milk starts to thicken. add the cheese. Stir until melted. Stir in salt and onion powder until combined. Drain pasta. Pour pasta into the cheese sauce, stir until completely coated. 
Topping: (a couple different options)
2-3 tbsp of melted butter mixed with maybe 1/2 c bread crumbs or crushed up crackers (any kind you have on hand) Pour pasta and cheese mixture into a baking dish and pat crumbs on top. Put under the broiler for 5 minutes. Watch it! It WILL burn. And you WILL scream “FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!” at the top of your lungs in the middle of your baby shower. Classy.
Get that yummy crunchy top without turning on your oven, avoiding profanity. 
(My fave): sprinkle crushed up seasoned croutons on top. This way the mac stays super creamy and you still get that homestyle crunch. I sprinkle them on each individual serving, that way it doesn’t get soggy for leftovers.
Keep it all creamy and don’t do a crunchy top at all.
Ladies who lunch: sub. fontina and goat cheese, add sautéed mushrooms and herbs
Game Day: sub. monterrey jack and blue cheese, add crumbled bacon
Couples night: sub. extra sharp white cheddar, add [fully cooked] chopped up chicken-apple sausage
Infinite possibilities Get creative!
Add a little salad or veg on the side and...Ta Da! Done. You survived an afternoon of playground politics and made lunch from scratch. On top of that, you’re set for a few more days if not a week. Now go grab yourself half a glass of pinot, girl. So it’s noon. Elmo will never know.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


I cannot put into words my distain for my neighborhood. Wait. Yes I can. I fucking hate my neighborhood. Ugh. And I HATE that I hate it. Look: I live in Manhattan. You either get space or location. Unless you’re Kelly Ripa or Sarah Jessica Parker. Then I guess you get both. But I’m not either of those [I’m sure] lovely women. I’m Jenny Lee Stern and I live in the ghetto. I am certainly blessed to have the top two floors of a renovated townhouse. But I live in the ghetto. The chicken bones on the sidewalk, babies screaming outside at 10pm, skunk weed wofting through my huge windows ghetto. Except to get on a train and go somewhere normal, I would never leave my house. I don’t belong here. I don’t feel safe or comfortable or like myself. There’s nothing of interest to me here. Or so I thought... 
One day, while JAPily moping down the street, almost 6 months pregnant with my second daughter I smelled a smell unlike any I had smelled before. A savory, spicily delicious smell that seemed to be oddly coming from a bakery. A bakery with super cheesy wedding cakes in the window. I bakery I would never go into. I sugary, gritty icing kinda place. You know what I mean. Well, there on the counter was what I (well, my nose/fetus) had been drawn in by. The girl working there spoke about as much English as I spoke Spanish. Like 4 words. We worked together. We figured it out. She sold me 3 pastelitos. Pollo. For $1 each. And she did so for the next 4 consecutive days. Obsession. Basically a mini empanada. Basically a fried little pie filled with whatever (chicken, in this case) inside. I’m so white. So stupid. Like I discovered them. Gimme a break! I was pregnant and sad and it’s the one thing I had to hold on to in this God forsaken place. So, I decided (a YEAR later) that I would conquer these little mouth orgasms.”I will make my own empanada! And I will never have to leave my house again!” I proclaimed, arms raised like a carb-crazed, agoraphobic, half-Jewish Evita.
This recipe has duel purpose: 

a)Make something intimidatingly ethnic. 
b) Make good use of leftovers. 

Jeremy and I hosted and EMMY party on Sunday in honor of our friend, Peter Dinklage who was nominated for Best Supporting Actor. He’s on the HBO show “Game of Thrones.” So, keeping with the theme I set up a HUGE Medieval feast: stew, chicken legs, meats, cheeses, fruit. Well, in true “me” form I over did it. We raped Costco and had WAY to much left over. So since then I’ve been trying to come up with new and interesting ways to use everything up. Oh, PS: PETE WON!!!!! The EMMY! His brother and a bunch of friends were over and it was SO EXCITING! It’s an awesome show and hes phenomenal on it. Well, obvi, he won the EMMY. Anyhoo- back to the food:
1 large shallot (or onion or whatever. I happened to have 1 sad shallot laying around about to mold so I used it.) minced
Leftover hard salami, about 6 inches? (it was a combo. a little genoa salami, a little sopressata), diced
Chunk of smoked gouda about the size of your fist, shredded
Handful of baby spinach leaves, chopped
6 Goya discos (little frozen circles of empanada dough. In my neighborhood grocery store there’s about 1,000 different kinds to choose from. You may not find any. I can’t say for certain, but I’d be willing to bet pie crust cut into 5” circles would work just fine)
Olive oil
Canola oil
Throw shallots and salami into a pan with a couple tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook for a few minutes till shallots crisp up a little and salami renders out a bit. Take off heat and set aside. Roll out each disk a bit. Fill one side with meat/onion mixture, top with a bit of cheese and spinach. Fold over and crimp with a fork to seal. Nora’s toddler fork worked perfectly. In a second skillet, heat bout 3 “glugs” each of olive and canola oil over a medium-high heat. Drop a little shred of cheese in. When it starts sizzling drop sealed meat pies, 3 at a time into the hot oil. They will cook for literally a minute per side or till golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Pair with a classy can of Tecate or Modelo from the corner bodega(also left over from the party). Eat. 
You can fill these little suckers with ANYTHING. Whatever you have. The dough is like $1.50 or less per package. Use leftover chicken, meatloaf, seafood, cheese, seriously anything. Your husband/boyfriend/girlfriend/lover will think you’re a total f-ing rockstar (a hot Latina rockstar), your kids will most likely eat in cause it looks like a hot pocket, and your friends will be surprised and impressed that you didn’t burn your house down. 
So there, Sugar Hill, Manhattan, USA. Take that! If ya can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

PINNED DOWN PIN-UP: Conception to Delivery

3 1/2 years ago I was living in Vegas with my [then soon-to-be] husband, Jeremy. We were living the life! $100 lunches, sleeping till noon, outlet shopping on the daily. Bliss. For the first time since we met, he was working and I wasn’t. Every night while he was on the job I’d do some Pilates, Facebook a little, catch up on phone calls, then fix him a fancy cocktail and a snack for when he got home. I mean, it was like the 50’s. Which got me a-thinkin’...
I wanted to write a cookbook. Kind of a modern day Donna Reed. Without the kids. Without the separate beds. Without the sensible one piece. I wanted to write a collection of “get to his heartslashdick-through-his-stomach” recipes. All a guy’s favorites with a free-wheelin’, free-lovin’, rockin’-the-bikini-bod twist. How to cook for a man to land him and keep him. Takes on late night bar food (wings, chinese take out) and updates on classic mom staples (mac and cheese, chicken pot pie). I was so psyched and began writing. The idea of the PINNED DOWN PIN-UP was born!
Then...I don’t know...The Hills was on. Or I felt like day drinking and laying out. Or...I saw something shiny. Who knows... I’m a natural procrastinator and I just let it go.
So here we are. Today. Jeremy and just celebrated our 3 year wedding anniversary and are madly in love with our 2 daughters: Nora Bella, just turned 2 and Miss Penelope Shayne (aka “Pats”), 6 months. My girls keep me sane and drive me ABSOLUTELY freaking bonk at the same time. I started sharing all the details of my life via Facebook updates through both of my pregnancies and now as a new mom of two. Brutally honest. No bullshit. People were responding to my candid take on motherhood. Agreeing. Laughing along. “You should write a book!” “You should write a blog!” 
So I am. PINNED DOWN PIN-UP. More pinned down than ever. Being a mom is amazing. ALMOST all the time. Sometimes it sucks and is terrifying. I love being a wife. ALMOST all the time. Sometimes it sucks and is terrifying. Sometimes I need to escape. AND THAT’S OK. I escape to the kitchen. And I cook. And I bake. And I mix drinks. And I serve. And I love it. And I want to share it. Look- I’m not a trained chef. I’m not a child psychologist. I’m not a doctor. I’m not a relationship expert. I’m not even Bethenny. But I have good ideas, I give good advice, and my food tastes good. And really funny things happen to me. All the time. And I’ll tell you about everything... I’m here to inspire. I’m here to support. I’m here to entertain (boo-boo-be-doo!).
So here we go!