Archive for the ‘Dishes from Merlin Drive’ Category

guido Guido was one of my favorite cousins growing up in Brooklyn. Now living in Upstate New York one of my favorite places to visit is Guido’s Ice Cream Parlor in Albany..  Recently I  thought… why can’t we eat ice cream for breakfast????  how is it that different from milk and cereal, except in format?   Guido's Italian Ice Should some foods — like ice cream  — be off limits for breakfast?   I think not!  L.O.L…Let me say that ice cream is one of my favorite foods in the whole world; I like all kinds, with all sorts of toppings, and I have been known to find reasons to partake in this yummy treat multiple times within a single day. I mean compare your yogurt and your ice cream label…or your granola and your cone ingredients (or sugar content)! It’s all a numbers game my friends….   Growing up in Brooklyn, Italian Ice runs in my veins! This past weekend we had family in for the weekend so we headed out Saturday to Guido’s for some Italian Ice and to pick up some ice cream for home. Last night we finished dinner and brought out the ice cream from Guido’s for desert…. it was so much better than the supermarket ice cream that we normally have on hand. As we dished some out, my niece decided she wanted hers in a cone… guido's ice cream       I can honestly say I have never seen someone eat an ice cream cone by starting with chomping into the cone just below the ice cream . When I saw this we realized there was no way to salvage the situation so we just let the little honey bunny eat the cone in whatever way she wished.

She finished the whole thing………………………. then she had a bath………………………………. then we did the laundry..

I’ll end here today with this thought when I grew up we didn’t have a dishwasher, I’ve found that some shortcuts in life are worth it. And eating ice cream off paper plates is one of them.

Stay Tuned…for more adventures in Styleland…



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I enjoy entertaining, one of my favorite things to do is to create a beautiful tablescape, I feel so great when guests come into a room and that look of delight comes over them.

This coming weekend is Palm Sunday, so the thought of how to decorate my table was on my mind. I have a beautiful Forsythia bush in my yard that is so beautiful this year, we have had warm weather and it has bloomed early so I thought I could start there.

Color???? Well I usually use a green china that I have for spring, but this year I will not be home for Easter Sunday, I thought we would really set an elegant table with Mother Theresa coming for Palm Sunday dinner. Tradition and faith are a big part of this household (as I’m sure you’ve discovered, if you read my blog), I have my menu planned, and my tablescape already decided.

 To begin, you must make the decision that the iron is your friend, I know, I know we don’t really feel that way but in this case your table should start off with clean crisp linens that are flawlessly ironed. It’s kind of like cooking a great meal the freshest ingredients make the dish, so it goes with a table the linens will shine through all the glamour that will adorn your table.

My choice of plates, black and white china for this occasion I decided to do gold chargers, I love to use chargers I feel that they pull everything together and really add a sense of elegance or whimsy (depending on the occasion).

So here we are Mother Theresa’s silver and a touch of crystal. Wella!!! We are done!!

Now for a full view!

What will you do with your table for Spring. I hope I’ve given some inspiration to you, enjoy the holiday!! As always stay tuned…



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Yesterday was Sunday, our day with Mother Theresa. As Mother Theresa would say “the age is there” because on Saturday we had a little visit to the emergency room, she is having some difficulty with her hip and is not able to move her leg. We will have to wait till Monday to talk with the Orthopedic doctor before we know what is going on, but as always it was my sister Carol her husband Louie and myself who rush to her side whenever there is an issue. Louie’s sister Sonia who has been with us since the beginning of time also came yesterday, we as usual kept Mom laughing the whole time, discussing such topics as Louie’s visit for testing to the hospital (Barium Enema story) and other family favorites that kept us in stitches. Mother Theresa was totally coherent  through the whole day, (even on morphine at 87 years young) she kept her sense of humor and told us that we missed our weekly visits this week so she had to do something dramatic to get us all together on a Saturday, ( we knew she was just looking for handsome doctors). She did return to her home on Saturday afternoon, so on Sunday not to take her out we just went up to the home and brought Penne Alla Vodka and octopus salad (Mother Theresa’s favorite) with a great loaf of italian bread. Here is our recipe and a picture for you!!!~


  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, cut crosswise into 1-inch slices
  • 1 pound hot Italian sausage, cut crosswise into 1-inch slices
  • 4 cups thinly sliced onions
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 2 (16-ounce) cans crushed whole tomatoes, with their juice
  • 1 teaspoon Essence, recipe follows
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 15 ounces ricotta
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 11/2 cups grated mozzarella
  • Crusty bread, for serving


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet or saucepan over high heat. Add the sausages and cook, stirring, until browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the onions, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and the black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are just soft, about 4 minutes. Add the basil and garlic, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the vodka and tomatoes; reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 40 minutes. Add the Essence and heavy cream, stir to mix, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

To cook the pasta, combine 4 quarts water, the 1 tablespoon olive oil, and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt in a large pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, add the pasta, and cook until al dente, 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain well. Combine half of the ricotta cheese and half of the Parmigiano-Reggiano with the remaining 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil in a large mixing bowl. Add the pasta and toss to coat evenly. Add the sausage mixture and mix well. Add the remaining ricotta cheese and the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano and mix well.

Transfer the mixture to a 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with the mozzarella. Bake until bubbly and golden, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven. Serve warm with crusty bread.

This is Emeril’s Seasoning recipe, makes a lot but you will use it in many other dishes. Save the rest in a baggie and label it.

2 1/2 tablespoons paprika

2 tablespoons salt

2 tablespoons garlic powder

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly.




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Well time just flies when you’re having fun!! I can’t believe it’s already Thursday!!  Life can be so busy lately, so  this Sunday we took some time to pamper ourselves and decided to take a shortcut for Sunday dinner. Another way Laurene shares stress free living with me. (Laurene’s Words of Wisdom) Meals can be healthy, full of flavor and love, and not take the whole day to prepare (not that it would bother me, I love to cook anyway).

We made this semi-homemade dinner. We marinated the shrimp and scallops in Dulcet, Lemon,  Mustard, Dill sauce. Then made Virgo rice according to package and added black-eyed peas by Melissa’s steamed and ready to eat products.

 Recipe as follows: for all those who want to replicate this simple yet lucious meal.

For the Skewers:

1pound Shrimp

1pound Scallops

1 bottle Dulcet Lemon Mustard Dill Sauce

Laurene threaded 8 skewers alternating shrimps and scallops, then added 1/2 a bottle of Dulcet sauce and let them marinade for 30 minutes.

For Rice:

 1 box virgo yellow rice

1 pkg Melissa’s Black eyed Peas

Prepared Virgo rice, according to boxed directions and mixed in Melissas peas at the end to warm with rice,

I prepared a great salad and Dinner was served, I would  choose Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio, to accompany this meal.

So here are the pictures!! Hope you enjoy this easy stress free meal.

My hat is off to Laurene for a great Sunday dinner even Mother Theresa would approve of !!! Stay tuned……..



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My parents use to dance in their dining room to this song from Connie Francis, Never Never on a Sunday:

Mother Theresa use to always sing this song.

 I have always done something to make Sunday special, my favorite thing to do (of course!) is cook and eat a great meal!! Today Shrimp and Scallop skewers on the barbi. But before we work, we rest!!! Laurene and I have decided to do facials this morning!! (after mass of course) but this little spa thing lasted into the afternoon, with all of the massaging that was required.

 Warning : The following pictures may not be suitable for children or adults for that matter. This is some scary stuff, proceed at your own risk!!!

OMG! Who is this????

We first watched the video on how to apply and correctly do the three facial massages required they are, (ready??) Effleurage, peterissage and tapotement movements. This four layer facial is called, REPECHAGE which is the  french word for rescue!  Well enough talk here are some pictures of our Sunday… It is said a picture is worth a thousand words well… here are some that may leave you speechless LOL, Laurene on the ottoman, that’s me pretending to be an anestitician, very professional – me on my knees!!! this was the Layer 1: Seaweed Serum, applied after cleansing with a micro dermabrasion cleanser and toning with a mild toner. The serum is applied until absorbed (5 minutes). Layer 2: Hydrating Cream, upward and outward motions, massaging as mentioned above.!!

Layer 3:  in this 4 part process was a Seaweed Treatment Mask. This was mixed in a bowl.  2 parts –  powder and gel. Mixed till smooth and applied with the supplied spatula.

This dried quickly, so we worked fast to apply it to each other and then relaxed for 5 minutes, the next and last step was the Mineral Mask!!

Layer 4: Mineral Mask   Frightening!!!!  this went on right over the seaweed mask!! when it dried we were feeling like Jason from Halloween!!!



Well once we completed this wonderful treatment we not only felt relaxed and rejuvenated but we laughed and enjoyed the morning!! It was truly great!! the finished product well here it is!! What do you think we feel quite a bit younger, don’t you think?? (be careful what you say to 2 very beautiful women).

This is Laurene’s mask, we were able to remove it intact!! So cool!!

So that was our Sunday spa day!!  No work today, other than eating a terrific meal, to end our relaxing day!!

Recipe and pic’s of the rest of the meal tomorrow! Stay Tuned….



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Every now and then my friend Laurene will say something to me that just hits me kinda like a V8!! This woman is one of the most genuine people you ever want to meet. She is a person I admire and cherish in my life. We have been good friends for many years and that has never wavered. She rarely has any negative thoughts or words about anything, a real inspiration to me. She never judges people or tells anyone what to do or how to do it, live and let live is her philosophy. Always has a positive word for me even in a sour situation she looks forward and knows that great things are on the horizon!! (Don’t you just wish you could be this way all the time!!!) Laurene truly teaches me lessons in life, believe in yourself (no one else has to!) Don’t give people advice, listen and help if you can. Be penny wise not dollar foolish!! and love deeply and unconditionally!!

Laurene is moving to Belize in a couple of years, her  husband Stephen is building a Bed and breakfast in Belize (The Crimson Orchid), were they intend to retire and live life to the fullest!! While she is staying with me we are trying new recipe’s for the business. This is one we tried over the weekend:

It is a Williams-Sonoma recipe from the cook book titled “BREAKFAST”  the recipe “Brocolli Rabe, Pesto, and Smoked Mozzarella Strata” is as follows:


3/4 lb broccoli rabe, thick stems removed

5 slices sourdough bread, about 1/2 inch thick, crusts removed

1/4 cup pesto

1 1/2 cups shredded smoked mozzarella cheese

1 cup whole milk

2/3 cup heavy double cream

4 large eggs

2 tsp Dijon mustard

Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil.  Add the broccoli rabe and blanch until almost tender, about 5 minutes.  Drain immediately and rinse under cold running water until cool throughout.  Gather into a ball and squeeze out as much water as possible.  Chop the broccoli rabe coarsely.

Generously grease a 7-by-1 inch or similar-sized baking dish, and place about 2 1/2 slices of the bread in the base, cutting as necessary to make an even layer.  Spread the broccoli rabe evenly over the bread.  Add the pesto in dollops, spacing them evenly.  Scatter with half of the smoked mozzarella and top with the remaining bread, again cutting to fit.

In a large bowl, combine the milk, cream, eggs, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a generous grinding of pepper. Whisk vigorously until smooth.  Pour the custard mixture over the bread and use the back of a large, flat spoon to press the bread down into the custard mixture.  Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F.  Press the bread down into the custard after about 15 minutes, and again just before placing in the oven.

Sprinkle the top within the remaining cheese.  Bake until puffed, golden, and crisp, about 45 minutes.  Let stand for 5 minutes, then cut into squares and serve.

Makes 4 – 6 servings

 This is what the book looks like, here are some additional pics:

We loved it!! Many more recipes to come!! Stay tuned!!



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So where to begin????? We left off at the sleep over on Day 2, sooooo…. here are the pictures of the end of the evening.

We split them in 2 rooms!!!

We had so many bodies, we had to place them in both rooms sprawled out on the floor in sleeping bags………

The evening began with food and fun, and Secretariat (the Movie). Of course we watched this in Laurene’s space downstairs. She has a large screen, and surround sound. The thundering of the hooves was shaking the chandelier in Giovanna’s room..


This was one adventure I created and was not able to attend until the end, Life sometimes calls you away……. But lucky for me MY HUSBAND took over in my absence and was able to take right over  (LOL).  I did prepare the food ahead so when the girls came over all they had to do was heat and eat!!!!!!! (did not make the artichoke dip, much to Rosie’s dismay).
The evening was a success and by the time I returned to Styleland’s Merlin Location the movie was in full swing and the Hormel Chili dip was  coming down the stairs… chips in tow. Wow this was great…. Kitchen was cleaned girls were settled in snug as bugs with their blankets all over the sectional and the thunder of the race was on.

super wings

Now For SUPER BOWL XLV. This comes under some of the other categories………… Food is the love of my life ……… Gabe runs a close second and my children third. I enjoy cooking eating, and drinking a good glass of wine so for tonight we are serving:
Chicken Wings (of course! Gabe is from Buffalo NY)

Potato Salad
Brisket (with Mastriani Rolls)
Guacamole, Cheese dip, salsa
vegetable plate with Ranch dip
Buffalo chicken dip
Mach Quiche

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