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Five on Friday {4-15-21}

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Hello Friday! I hope everyone had a great week! This week my daughter turned 15! She had her friends over on Wednesday night to help celebrate and this weekend we are having family over. I took today off of work since I have some vacation days that I need to use before the end of June. Sadly, the weather isn’t looking great, but my husband and I plan to enjoy a day date! Here are five from the past week: 

1. Eating – On a recent trip to Aldi I picked up this Salsa con Queso.  It’s addictingly good and I’ve been eating it with tortilla chips all week long!

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2. Reading – I am reading Happy & You Know It by Laura Hankin. It’s about moms in an infant playgroup and all the going ons in their wealthy lives. It’s a light, mindless read. Perfect after having just finished The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah which was sooo good, but really sad and depressing.

3. Ice Cream – Last weekend we went to the Danbury Mall.  We got rolled ice cream and bubble tea for the kids from Papa-T. They love both these things so it was a win! 

4. Celebrating – My daughter’s 15th birthday! Her birthday was Wednesday and she celebrated by having her close group of friends over for pizza and cake. They had a Just Dance Wii marathon and played giant Uno. She had a great night! I’m glad she was able to enjoy the day with friends after last year’s birthday that was right in the beginning of the pandemic.

5. Cooking – One of our favorite dinners this week was Bruschetta Orzo Zucchini Boats. The original recipe called for quinoa, but no one except my husband likes quinoa. So I substituted orzo which went well with the flavors of the dish.

ICYMI this week on the blog:

Tuesday I shared my March Reads.

Sharing with Friday Favorites!  Have a great weekend!

You may also enjoy:

Five on Friday {Hello April}

21

March Reads {2021}

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March seems so long ago! It was a good reading month though with a bunch of 4 and even a 5 star book! This month I read a lot of suspense/thriller books. Here are my March reads!

3 stars:

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While I Was Away by Waka T. Brown – (January 2021, Middle Grade/Memoir) Twelve-year-old Waka is sent to Tokyo, Japan for five months to live with her grandmother to improve her Japanese. She attends school while navigating a new language and trying to make friends. This book is based on the author’s own experiences. I found the book fairly slow and am not sure how much it will appeal to the targeted audience.

4 stars:

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Dark Roads by Chevy Stevens – (August 2021, Suspense/Thriller) I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley. Hailey McBride is living with her aunt and her super strict husband. She runs away to live in the woods, hoping that people think she was a victim of the Cold Creek Highway killer. Meanwhile, Amber Chevalier is murdered by the killer. A year later her sister Beth arrives to attend a memorial for her sister and other victims and ends up staying in Cold Creek. As she tries to find her sister’s murderer she puts herself in danger. I’ve been a fan of Chevy Stevens for awhile and this suspense read didn’t disappoint.


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Dear Child by Romy Hausmann – (May 2020, Suspense/Thriller) Lena Beck has been missing for 14 years. A woman named Lena appears at a hospital. She has killed her captor after being held captive in a cabin with her two children. The police and Lena’s parents try to figure out what happened but there are many unanswered questions. Told from three different POV, this book is a bit on the dark side. It is different from, but has similarities to Room by Emma Donoghue.

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Every Last Secret by A.R. Torre – (December 2020, Suspense/Thriller) – Cat and her husband William are a wealthy and successful couple. When Neena Ryder is hired as a life coach for William’s company, she becomes a bit obsessive over Cat and William’s life. Told in alternating chapters between Cat and Neena, the two women become engaged in a game of manipulation. Although none of the characters were likable, this was an enjoyable, suspense read.

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The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab – (October 2020, Fantasy/Historical Fiction) In 1714 a young woman makes a deal to live forever but is forgotten by everyone she meets. But after 300 years, she ends up meeting a man who is able to remember her. This book has been so hyped up on previous book posts and social media. I didn’t know anything about this book before reading it but decided to see if it was worth all of the hype. The first half of the book was pretty slow for me and I almost stopped reading it. However, it really picks up and I ended up really enjoying it.

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When I was You by Amber Garza – (August 2020, Suspense/Thriller) Kelly Medina accidentally discovers that there’s another woman in town with her same name. The two end up meeting and become friends but one of them becomes obsessed with the other and one of them disappears. This was a good suspense read with a lot of twists.

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The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins – (January 2021, Suspense/Thriller) Jane is a dog walker in a wealthy suburban neighborhood where she meets Eddie. He is a young, wealthy recent widow, whose wife, Bea, died in a boating accident. The two end up falling for each other, but Jane can’t get over Bea. This is allegedly a modern retelling of Jane Eyre (which I read YEARS ago and didn’t love). However, I found this to be an enjoyable read with lots of twists.

5 stars:

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Yellow Wife by Sadeqa Johnson – (January 2021, Historical Fiction) Pheby Brown was born a slave but promised her freedom on her 18th birthday. But on the day of her birthday she is sent to Devil’s Half-Acre, a jail in Virginia where she is force to become the jail owner’s wife. However, she does whatever she needs to do to protect her loved ones. This book is based on true events. Although it’s about a difficult subject, this book is very well written.

Sharing with Steph and Jana’s monthly Show Us Your Books linkup!

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Five on Friday {Hello April!}

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Hello Friday and Hello April! We will be doing a lot of celebrating this month with Easter, our wedding anniversary and our daughter’s birthday. This week I used some vacation days and had four days off from work.  The weather wasn’t great, so we didn’t do too much. However, it was relaxing and restful. On Sunday (Easter) we are hosting just my parents for dinner.  They have been fully vaccinated and it will be nice to finally be able to eat a meal with them.  Happy Easter! Here are five from the past week: 

1. Vaccinated – Monday afternoon I got my second COVID vaccine (Moderna). I am fully vaccinated! I was super nervous that I’d have a reaction, after hearing stories.  However, besides a sore arm and feeling a little achy all over I was fine.  Now that vaccine eligibility has opened up to those age 30 and over, we got my husband an appointment in mid-April. 

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2. Reading – I am finishing up What Could Be Saved by Liese O’Halloran Schwarz. I’m trying to finish it since it’s due back at the library on Saturday and can’t be renewed. At this point, I’m not loving it and am reading it to finish it.  Up next is Layla by Colleen Hoover. I’m very excited since she’s one of my favorite authors!

3. Decluttering – This week I spent a LOT of time organizing and decluttering. Yesterday my husband helped me drop off donations to Yorktown Love in Action and the Goodwill.  There is plenty more cleaning and decluttering to be done, but it feels so good to get the stuff out of the house.

4. Baking – This week my daughter made banana chocolate chip muffins since we had some overly ripe bananas.  

5. Anniversary Dinner – My husband and I celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary on Sunday (Easter).  We opted to celebrate earlier in the week.  Although we’ve been vegetarian for over almost a year and a half now, we wanted to celebrate at Brothers Fish and Chips in Ossining.  They have a seafood tasting menu that is amazing.  You never know what you will get, but everything is always delicious…and beautifully plated.  It was so good and I was soooooo full! 

6. Watching – We started watching Mank (Netflix) because it’s gotten so many Oscar nominations, but I fell asleep. I finished watching The One (Netflix) and have started Tell Me Your Secrets (Amazon). 

Sharing with Friday Favorites!  Have a great weekend!

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Five on Friday {3-26-21}

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Happy Friday! The weather this past week has been beautiful and I am loving it! The kids start their spring recess this weekend. I’m taking some vacation days next week and am looking forward to some rest and relaxation. Happy Passover to those who celebrate!  Here are five from the past week:  

1. Hiking- Last Sunday the weather was perfect.  We went on a family hike to Turkey Mountain.  The last time we did this hike was March 15th of last year, the day before everything shut down. It was a fairly easy hike and it was great to get the kids outside.

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2. Reading – I am finishing up reading Every Last Secret by A.R. Torre.  It is another great suspense book!

3. Eating – Whenever we are near Danbury, CT we go to the Hummus and Pita Co.  They have so many vegan and vegetarian options.  We also finally tried the chickpea Chiller in coffee flavor.  

After our hike on Sunday we stopped at Libby’s Coffee Lounge.  I had an iced chai latte and the kids split an iced mocha, an açaí bowl.

4. Baking – this week I baked these Salted Pretzel Magic Bars from Half Baked Harvest. Sooo good – except the pretzels on top get soggy/stale, so next time I’d leave them off.

5. Buying – the kids have been back in school 4 days.  After the spring break they will be in 5 days.  I want them drinking more water and less sugary drinks, so I bought them these water bottles.  They come in a variety of different colors. The 9 oz. size is perfect because it fits in their lunch bags.  Hopefully, they won’t be dropped and dented too soon!

ICYMI this week on the blog:

Tuesday I shared where to give, donate and sell your unwanted items in Westchester County.

Sharing with Friday Favorites!  Have a great weekend!

You may also enjoy:

Five on Friday {3-19-21}

Charcuterie Boards of Westchester County

Where to Give, Donate and Sell in Westchester County

Spring is officially here! If like me, you became inspired to do some major cleaning out and purging of your belongings, but now have piles of “stuff” all over your house, then this post is for you. Please do not just throw your gently used goods out. There are plenty of places that will take your unwanted items and you avoid having these items sit in a landfill for years. Check out our guide on where to give, donate and sell your unused items in Westchester County. Please check with the organizations for the most up-to-date information. With COVID, many places have changed their donation process and times.

Give Away:

If you want to get rid of your things quickly to local members of your community and/or the surrounding towns.

Buy Nothing groups FB: Buy Nothing Groups on Facebook are set up by locations throughout Westchester County. If you are interested in giving your unwanted items to local neighbors who you don’t mind coming to your house to pickup, then this may be an option for you.

Freecycle.org: This network has over 9 million members worldwide with a mission of keeping good stuff out of landfills. It’s a grassroots movement of people giving and getting stuff for free.

Donate:

There are several local and national organizations that accept donations of gently used items.

(914) Cares: (White Plains) (914) Cares mission is “to support neighbors in our community who struggle to meet basic human needs.” They have a Kids Clothing Bank where you can donate seasonally appropriate, clean clothing.

The Back Door Thrift Shop: (White Plains) The Back Door Thrift Shop run by The Hebrew Institute of White Plains is currently closed due to COVID. When open, they accept donations of costume jewelry, gently used clothing, shoes and housewares.

The Cherry Door Thrift Shop: (Tarrytown)
*Please note, donations are not being accepted without prior approval at this time. The thrift shop has been closed and reopens March 25th.

The Cherry Door accepts furniture, antiques, art, jewelry, books in good condition, stereo equipment and more. Check here for a full list of what they do and do not accept.

Furniture Sharehouse: (West Harrison) The Furniture Warehouse provides furniture to economically disadvantaged Westchester County families and individuals at no cost. They are currently only accepting drop off donations on the 3rd Saturday of each month from 9:30 AM – 11:30 AM. They are resuming furniture pick-ups for a fee, beginning the week of April 19th. Please check this list for furniture items accepted.

Goodwill: (Baldwin Place – Store & Donation Center, Chappaqua – Donation Bins, Eastchester – Donation Center, Elmsford – Store & Donation Center) There are two Goodwill stores in Westchester County that sell items as well as take donations. There are also donation bins in Westchester County where items can be dropped off. Goodwill accepts clothing, electronics, furniture and housewares.

Hillside Thrift Shop at Zion Episcopal Church: (Dobbs Ferry) Hillside Thrift Shop accepts donations on Mondays between 10 AM – 12 PM. They accept/sell clothing, books, toys, home goods, seasonal decorations and more.

Katonah Thrift Shop: (Katonah) The proceeds from this shop support the Women’s Civic Club. Donations can be scheduled by calling 232-3010.

Midnight Run: (Dobbs Ferry) This organization is mostly in need of casual men’s clothing, especially coats, pants and larger sizes. They also collect food items, toiletries and blankets. Call to arrange a drop-off or stop during office hours (contact info and details here).

Salvation Army: The Salvation Army accepts donated items including clothing, furniture, automobiles, household goods, appliances
Drop Boxes located in Tarrytown, Yonkers
Community Centers located in New Rochelle, Peekskill, Port Chester, Tarrytown, White Plains and Yonkers
Family Stores located in Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, Port Chester

The Sharing Shelf: (Port Chester) The Sharing Shelf provides clothing, backpacks, toiletries, diapers and more to children in need via nonprofits, schools and government agencies in Westchester County. They accept clothing donations of all sizes from infant through adult. Check this list for items they do and don’t collect.

Twigs Thriftree Thrift Shop: (Mount Kisco) The Thriftree Boutique is run by Twigs of Northern Westchester County. All profits benefit Northern Westchester Hospital. Donations of clothing, jewelry and small household items are are currently accepted by appointment.

Yorktown Love in Action: (Yorktown Heights) *Please note during COVID the donation times and the items they are accepting have changed. Read here for the changes.

This local non-profit organization serves Westchester and Putnam county communities. Donations are accepted at the donation center everyday during their normal business hours. They accept furniture, clothing, footwear, jewelry, books, decorative items, bedding, rugs, DVDs, mattresses, cars. Check this list of what they do and do not accept.

Sell:

If you are interested in making some money off your unwanted items try these places.

Home Again Consignments: (Dobbs Ferry) Home Again Consignments is a place for you to sell your slightly used furniture, gifts, lighting and home decor items. They carry antiques, mid-century and modern pieces. The consignment period is 60 days and they work with you to set the asking prices of your items. Consignors receive 50% of the final sale price.

Penny Pincher Boutique: (Bedford Hills) Penny Pincher Boutique is a women’s luxury consignment shop in Bedford Hills. Appointments are necessary to consign. They consign luxury designer brand items including clothing, shoes, handbags, jewelry, small leather accessories and more.

Trilogy Consignment: (Tarrytown) Current consignment sellers must do so virtually, as March and April walk-in appointments are filled. Trilogy accepts both women and men’s based on style and quality, not brand name. Sellers get 40% of the amount the item sells for, or 50% of items priced $100 or more. Items are listed for two months and there is an online tracking system where you can track your items in real time.

Once Upon a Child: (Somers/Scarsdale) Currently buying by appointment only, these franchises purchase gently used children’s clothes, shoes, toys and baby gear.

You may also enjoy reading:

Westchester County Bucket List

Family Dinner Deals in Westchester County



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Five on Friday {3-19-21}

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting the blog!

Happy Friday! I don’t love losing an hour of sleep with “Spring Ahead” but I do love that it’s light out later! I visited the chiropractor last Friday and discovered I have some major neck and spine issues going on.  I have to go 3x a week for adjustments for 12 weeks! I’m hoping this helps alleviate my pain issues.  Here are five from the past week: 

1. Eating – We visited a new to us bakery in Peekskill, Ty’s Bread Basket. One of the treats we enjoyed was this Oreo chocolate chip cookie. Yes it was as good as it looks! We also had a blueberry scone and a piece of carrot cake.

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2. Reading – This week I finished reading The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins. It was an enjoyable suspense book with lots of twists! I’m currently reading an ARC of Dark Roads by Chevy Stevens.

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3. Watching – Last weekend we watched East Side Sushi on Netflix.  It’s about a Hispanic woman who tries to become a sushi chef. I enjoyed this movie a lot!  I also started watching The One on Netflix.  It’s very loosely based on the book by John Marrs that I read in the fall. I’ve only seen the first episode but am interested in watching the rest.

4. Baking – Wednesday night my daughter and I made Irish Soda Bread for St. Patrick’s Day.  I used the recipe that my mom makes.  I’ve just never had to make it myself until now! We did a pretty good job and the recipe makes 3 loaves, so we froze some for another time.  

5. Buying – My daily bedtime routine includes lighting a candle and reading in bed before I go to sleep. I was in need of a new candle so I went to Marshall’s this weekend and bought this Scentsational Tangerine Guava one. It has a nice citrusy scent! 

Sharing with Friday Favorites!  Have a great weekend!

You may also enjoy:

Five on Friday {3-12-21}


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Five on Friday {3-12-21}

Happy Friday! It’s been a pretty uneventful week around here.  I am experiencing some neck pain and pain/numbness in my arms.  I’m self-diagnosing myself with a pinched nerve…..but I’m seeing a chiropractor this morning. It’s been a pretty painful couple of days, so hoping for some relief. Here are five from the past week: 

1. Eating – Falafel over rice from Alamidinah Market in Mohegan Lake. Since becoming vegetarian, I think falafel has become one of my favorite foods!  

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2. Reading – I am finishing up The Invisible Life of Addie Larue. It started off pretty slowly but has picked up enough to keep me interested. I’m hoping to finish it this weekend.  What are you reading?

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3. Watching – Last weekend we had a family movie night and watched The Trial of the Chicago 7 on Netflix.  I wasn’t a big fan. Have you watched anything good this week?

4. Cooking – We loved these fried eggplant sandwiches with fresh mozzarella, roasted red peppers and sautéed broccoli rabe.  My kids called these “deli sandwiches” since we usually order something similar from our local deli.

5. Drinking – My favorite new coffee house drink is an iced chai latte.  This once I got at Mimi’s Coffee House in Mount Kisco.

ICYMI this week on the blog:

Tuesday I shared my February Reads.

Sharing with Friday Favorites!  Have a great weekend!

You may also enjoy:

Five on Friday

28

February Reads {2021}

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Even though February is a short month, I was able to get a good amount of books read. I’m really excited about my upcoming reads. I just brought home a bunch of books from the library that came in from my holds and I got approved on Netgalley for the new Chevy Stevens book that is being published in August. Here are my February reads that I’m sharing with Steph and Jana.

3 stars:

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Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman (January 2007, LGBT Romance) Taking place in the Italian Riviera, this book is the love story between 17 year-old Elio and his father’s research assistant, Oliver, who is staying with the family for 6 weeks during the summer. I didn’t like the characters or the writing style. However, it is a movie and I always prefer to read the book first.

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The Daydream Cabin by Carolyn Brown (December 2020, Contemporary Romance) School counselor Jayden Bennett agrees to fill in for her older sister as a counselor at Piney Wood Academy. She spends the eight weeks at this “last chance” camp for troubled teenage girls and ends up getting close to her colleague, Elijah. This was a feel-good story and I liked the storyline. However, I found it to be a little too religious for my liking.

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Get Lucky by Katherine Center (April 2010, Contemporary Fiction) Sarah Harper gets fired from her job in NYC and moves back home to Houston. She decides to become a surrogate for her sister, Mackie, who is unable to sustain a pregnancy. These events bring up issues that Harper must deal with. This is one of Center’s earlier books. While it was an enjoyable enough read, I prefer her newer books more.

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The Home Edit: A Guide to Organizing and Realizing Your House Goals by Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin (March 2019, Nonfiction/Organization) After watching the show on Netflix, I wanted to check out the books. The pictures are gorgeous and give me organization envy. However, overall I didn’t find the book very useful for my needs.

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Unplugged by Gordon Korman (January 2021, Middle Grade/Realistic Fiction) Jett Baranov is the son of a tech billionaire. Due to his bad behavior, he is sent to a wellness camp, where electronics aren’t allowed. The other kids think he’s a spoiled brat. But when he finds a baby lizard, it becomes a group effort to keep it hidden from the adults. I am an adult reading middle grade fiction, so not sure how much my opinion really counts. But I found this to be an overall “eh” read.

4 stars

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Confessions on the 7:45 by Lisa Unger (October 2020, Thriller/Suspense) When her train is stuck on the tracks, Selena Murphy ends up connecting with the woman next to her. Martha shares a secret with Selena and in return, Selena confesses that she thinks her husband is sleeping with their nanny. A few days later, the nanny is missing and Martha is texting Selena. That is when the book starts a roller coaster of a ride. Told through multiple POV, this book has lots of twists.

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Efrén Divided by Ernesto Cisneros (March 2020, Middle Grade, Social Justice) Efrén is a middle school student with two younger siblings, who are all American-born. But one day, his undocumented mother is deported to Mexico. While his father works multiple jobs to try to earn enough money to bring Efrén’s mom back, Efrén must step up to help take care of his siblings. This was the first middle grade book I’ve read that focuses on undocumented immigrants. It depicts the stress that deportation has on a family and is a relevant read for middle school readers.

A Good Girl's Guide to Murder (A Good Girl's Guide to Murder, #1)

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson (May 2019, YA/Mystery/Suspense) Teenager, Andie Bell, was murdered by her boyfriend, Sal Singh. Five years later, Pippa Fitz-Amobi chooses this case for her Senior Capstone Project. While completing research for her project, she ends up unearthing secrets people have tried to keep hidden. This leads her to believe maybe Sal was innocent. This was an enjoyable teen mystery.

5 Stars:

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The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune (March 2020, Fantasy) Linus Baker is a case worker at the Department in charge of Magical Youth. Upper Management sends him to Marysas Island to investigate the six, “dangerous children” that reside there. I had no idea what this book was about before reading it. However, I ended up loving everything about it – the characters, the island, the writing and the lessons and takeaways.

You may also enjoy:

January Reads 2021

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Five on Friday {Hello Weekend!}

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for supporting the blog.

Hello Friday! So happy for the weekend! It’s been super crazy at work so I’m looking forward to some rest and relaxation! Here are five from the past week:  

1. Eating – Last weekend I took my daughter to the Jefferson Valley Mall to get sneakers and a new mouth guard because she’s playing on a field hockey league that starts this weekend. There are not many food options in the mall, but there are always some food trucks outside.  She saw this Mac and Cheese grilled cheese and had to try it.  I had a bite and it was really good!

Last weekend my husband and I also went on a lunch date to Little Drunken Chef in Mount Kisco. They have a large vegetarian menu and we enjoyed sharing some dishes including these mushroom ravioli. I know you can’t see them, but there were two giant mushroom ravioli under all those leeks, mushrooms and peas.

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2. Reading – I am finishing When I Was You by Amber Garza.  It’s a suspense/mystery with lots of twists. I’m enjoying it and should finish today. I have picked up so many books from the library over the past two weeks and I just got approved for a NetGalley book that I want to read….so not sure what I’ll be reading next.

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3. Watching – My husband and I have found a new show that we are watching together. We started the first season of Billions on Amazon last weekend and are one episode away from finishing it.  I know a week may not be a binge for some, but there are some weeks where I watch hardly any television! I have also started watching Ginny and Georgia (Netflix). My daughter binge watched the season in a couple of days (she’s a professional binge watcher, LOL!). I like being able to connect with her and try to read/watch some of the same stuff that she has.

4. Cooking – This week one of our favorite meals was this Pasta with Roasted Chickpeas, Cauliflower and Spinach

5. COVID Vaccine – Sunday I got my first dose of the COVID vaccine.  It took awhile for me to get on board with getting it, but I finally decided to do it. I want to be able to travel and allegedly, two weeks after you’ve gotten your second vaccine you don’t need to quarantine if exposed. 

ICYMI this week on the blog:

Wednesday I shared 5 Questions With Hudson Green.

Sharing with Friday Favorites!  Have a great weekend!

You may also enjoy:

Five on Friday {Goodbye February}

5 Questions With: Hudson Green

Photo c/o Hudson Green

We are bringing back our “5 Questions With…..” series, but focusing on spotlighting local Hudson Valley businesses and people. Kicking off our local series is 5 Questions with Hudson Green. Hudson Green is a local Westchester County family owned and operated business. This plant-based food company is run by Maria Rama and her son Will Reiter. Launched in 2018, Hudson Green currently sells two plant-based sauces, Meatless Bolognese and Velvet Vodka.

Hudson Green’s Meatless Bolognese sauce. Photo c/o Hudson Green.

Maria grew up in the restaurant business and has extensive experience in the food industry. Not only does she and her son make and sell their sauces, but she creates recipes, found on the Hudson Green website, that incorporate the sauces.

1.  I know starting a business is not a quick and  easy endeavor.What was the inspiration behind Hudson Green and how long did it take for you to go from the concept to creating your first sauce, the Bolognese?

I’ve worked in the food business as a cookbook author, account executive for Sunkist Growers, Tabasco Pepper Sauce, Korbel Champaign, and served as a consumer advocate and food spokesperson for nearly my entire professional life. After my dear husband Mark nearly suffered a heart attack, he made the life-saving decision to become a vegan. As the head chef in our household, and even though I was proficient in the kitchen, I had to learn how to make satisfying and delicious plant-based dishes, that were also fat free or at least had very little fat, including vegetable oils. This undertaking was tricky, even with my cooking skills. Prior to his illness, I’d just released my sixth cookbook, Bacon Nation, which gives you an idea of my cooking experience and my prejudices for using flavorful, umami rich fats in all of my cooking. Like so many others, we thought we were eating well and healthfully, but we weren’t. To save Mark’s life, I had to completely relearn how to cook.

One of the most delicious and useful dishes I created was a recipe for a Meatless 6-Vegetable Bolognese. It was a basket of vegetables in a pot, caramelized in very little oil, seasoned with spices like fennel, nutmeg, nutritional yeast and sun-dried tomatoes, and I added walnuts for a little protein and to give it a meat-like “bite.” It was so thick and delicious, and I used it to stuff peppers, make vegetable chilis, even lentil burgers. I had kind of a “eureka” moment in my kitchen. I thought, “This sauce is so good and so unique, maybe others looking for healthy and delicious plant-based sauces might want to buy it.”  That began my journey to create a recipe that could be scaled up, manufactured and safely jarred. I had no experience as a product developer and it took me the better part of a year to complete this part of my journey. I was helped by Cornell Food Venture Center, the New York State institute that approves all shelf-stable jarred goods before they can be sold in the U.S.

2.  Hudson Green is a family business.  What is it like working with your son?

This is an interesting question. I love working with my son, Will, and believe we’ve gotten to know each other much better through this business. It’s good that we bring different skill sets that can tackle and solve different problems. I focus on recipe and product development and manufacturing. I’m also a people person and love connecting with our customers. But my computer skills are limited, and so Will manages all the back office work, including our online Amazon sales. Also, he’s a lawyer, and he reads and amends all our contracts with the people and companies we work with, such as our broker, our co-packer, our vendors, our distributors. I very much admire how he’s trained to think more cautiously than I am. I’ll say let’s do this, and he’ll give me the smart and practical reasons that temper my enthusiasm. I think we make a good team.

3. You are a best selling cookbook author, have trained as a pastry chef, worked as a food stylist and as an account executive for major food brands.  Who/what influenced you to enter the food industry and how has your diverse background in the industry helped you in creating your sauces?

I grew up in a large, boisterous Italian family, dominated by women who lived to cook. They owned a successful grocery and meat market in Bedford Hills, Briccetti’s Bedford Market, for more than 50 years, and cooked for this store many of the most amazing and unique dishes I’ve ever tasted in my life, still to this day. I worked often in the store and in their home kitchen, absorbing all their secrets and also all the joys of creating food that was pure, delicious, nutritious, and that brought us all to an extended family table at Grandma’s house every Sunday. After graduating from college, I went right back into making food. My first real job was working in Boston as a pastry chef and then I was hired by a major New York Food Public Relations Firm to create recipes and products for different food companies. It’s a classic tale of how what you do as a child, if you love doing it, is very often what you seek to do professionally as an adult.

Hudson Green Vegan Chili. Photo c/o Hudson Green.

4. My family followed a vegan diet for 6 months and now 3 out of the 4 of us are vegetarians.  Your two sauces are both plant-based and meat and dairy-free.  We love pasta and sauce, but I love that you have created recipes like risotto, stuffed peppers and a shepherd(less) pie, that  incorporate your sauces. They really showcase how versatile the Bolognese and Velvet Vodka sauces are.  Do you have any tips or advice for readers who are looking to adopt a more plant-based diet? 

Cooking delicious plant-based foods is not as difficult as many people think. Meat, poultry, eggs, fish and dairy products all have different kinds of fat, and fat is filled with flavor. So, the trick is to impart flavor to your plant-based dishes without using any of these fat-rich foods. You can do it with either a technique or an ingredient. Here’s a few tricks I practice:

1.) Roast your vegetables! Use a little oil or substitute vegetable broth for oil in your roasting pan to roast veggies like red peppers, carrots, onions, garlic, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, eggplant, hard-shelled squash, etc. Roasting caramelizes the vegetables, to bring out their natural sweetness, and aside from the chopping, there’s little work to roasting!

2.) These are a few of the seasoning ingredients that I am never without in my vegan kitchen. They bring bland vegetable dishes to life.

  • Fresh Ginger Root — It’s slightly spicy, intense, slightly nutty, slightly sweet. Add it generously to your soups, vegetable stir-fries, stuffings, and pasta dishes.
  • Garlic — Like onions, it’s a must kitchen helper, but don’t ever burn garlic when you sauté it. Tease out it’s flavor by adding garlic to the pan after other vegetables have been fully sautéed and softened. Sauté garlic only about 30 seconds or until fragrant. Or wrap a whole head of garlic in tin foil and bake until very soft. Perfect for hummus dips!
  • Jalapeno Peppers — They not only add spice, but also lots of peppery flavor to vegetable sautés and soups.
  • Substitute cooked and pureed cauliflower for cream and other dairy to make creamy soups and vegetable purees. 
  • Curry powders are instant flavor enhancers, even if you don’t care much for curry! Yellow curries have a different profile than spicy Thai red curries. Try different ones to flavor soups, vegetable stews, stir-fries, dips, sauces. A little sprinkle or a large spoonful of curry powder perks up the flavor of just about any vegetable dish. 
  • We all focus on eating fresh vegetables, but don’t ignore frozen veggies. Stock them conveniently in your freezer for quick side dishes. We always buy and freeze a supply of shelled edamame, corn, and green peas, and add them to mixed greens for quick and nutritious salads. 
  • Olives, capers, roasted and pickled peppers, pickles — With their intense saltiness, these make great seasoners. Add them to salads or serving as satisfying garnishes to all kinds of vegan dishes. 
  • Good quality sea salt, kosher salt, truffle salt, etc. Salt can elevate the taste of a bland and forgettable vegan dish to something wonderful. Experiment with different salts to find a few you really like. 
  • Good quality white and red balsamic vinegar. Drizzle over roasted veggies, onto your favorite salad, onto avocado toast, etc. 
  • Fresh herbs, especially thyme, tarragon, parsley. 
  • Good quality vegetable broth. If you need to reduce the amount of oil in your diet, use a good quality vegetable broth instead to sautéed and roast vegetables. Oil does work to impart flavor, but vegetable broth will also impart some flavor and more importantly it will keep your veggies from burning while sautéing or roasting.

3.) We’re all eating more pasta dishes these days. To avoid putting on COVID pasta pounds, make the sauce the center of the dish, not the pasta. In other words, do as the Italians do, who eat pasta every day and never gain weight. Use less pasta and more sauce and fill your sauce with an assortment of vegetables. Your pasta sauce can become a vegetable delivery system. Indeed, this is the way we look at our Organic 6-Vegetable Meatless Bolognese. It brings to your pasta plate cauliflower, carrots, onions, mushrooms, carrots, garlic, tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes and walnuts. Use 3 to 4 ounces of pasta per serving, not 6 to 8, with our sauce for a truly satisfying dinner that won’t add unwanted pasta pounds. 

4.) Think outside the pasta box! Use our plant-based Hudson Green sauces not only to make great pasta dishes but also to make soups, veggie stews, to stuff peppers, to make a veggie chili, a lentil burger, or a cream-free, dairy-free mac ‘n cheese. Our sauces are not for pasta only! Check out our many Hudson Green recipes on our website.

5.  What are your future plans and goals for Hudson Green?
  
We’d like to extend our line of sauces, and we have several recipes ready to go. To that end, we’ll need to find investors or a larger company that sees the potential in our brand and wants to help us develop our products. 

Bonus Questions:

1. What is your favorite food?
I don’t have one. But I love any dish that is perfectly and exquisitely seasoned and cooked. 

2. What are some of your favorite places in Westchester County to eat, shop and play?
My husband and I are avid golfers and you will find us often on many of Westchester’s public courses about 8 months out of the year, weather permitting. I love any restaurant where the cook makes something I can’t make better in my own home kitchen. Often a great slice of pizza or an exquisitely prepared eggplant parmesan will send me to heaven, so to speak.  And I often find these dishes in small neighborhood restaurants where the chef or owner has been making them for many years or even for his entire life.

Hudson Green’s Meatless Bolognese and Velvet Vodka sauces can be purchased online via the Hudson Green website, Amazon or at local specialty grocery stores including Wegmans.

To learn more about Hudson Green, visit their website!

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