Friday, August 26, 2016

Salmon Cakes With Spicy Remoulade Sauce

Photo: eat-spin-run-repeat.com, where you can get another fine recipe.
Recently I began making salmon cakes with a crunchy kasha coating and topped with a spicy remoulade sauce.

The first time I dipped salmon cakes in kasha occurred because I had kasha, but no breadcrumbs. It turns out that dinner guests love the crunch; thereafter it's become my permanent way of making salmon cakes.


Remoulade sauce is popular in New Orleans. A French condiment, it is delicious on po' boy sandwiches and other seafood dishes, such as crab, shrimp or lobster. My party guests say, Remoulade sauce makes the salmon cakes. I agree; so now when I make the one, I always make the other. A graduate of New Orlean's Tulane University gave me the Remoulade sauce recipe, and I'm very grateful! I add a few more flavors like pickle juice to it, though the original recipe is mighty fine too.


Salmon cakes can be seasoned a number of different ways. Here's what I add:

Salmon Cakes


Ingredients:


1 14 ounce can of Alaskan salmon, drained and skin removed
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cup of Quaker oats (or breadcrumbs. I use 1-minute, or 5-minute rolled oats.) 
1/4 cup red bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup onion, diced
1/4 cup celery, diced
3 tablespoons mayonnaise (I use reduced fat, but never non-fat -- which has zero flavor.)
2 tablespoons mustard (I use either Dijon, or spicy brown mustard.)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (or lime, whatever you have)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
a sprinkle of dried garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper (= 12 turns of the pepper mill)
a turn of fresh nutmeg (I have a nutmeg mill to save my fingers.)
a sprinkle of Herbes de Provence
a sprinkle of parsley
2 tablespoons of olive oil (for the skillet)
1 cup of kasha (to coat the salmon cakes)

Directions:

1) Set aside a skillet brushed with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. I use my hand to coat the pan with the olive oil, then mix the salmon with my oil-residued-hand. Extra virgin olive oil is healthy to eat.

2) In a large bowl, combine the salmon, eggs, oats, red bell peppers, onions, celery, mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice and seasonings and form into patties. Usually I make them hamburger size (for dinner), or small bite size (for a party tray).

3) Pour the kasha onto a large plate and dip both sides of the salmon cakes into it, coating each side.

4) Next lay the salmon cakes in the heated olive oiled skillet. Brown both sides. I like to put a lid over the pan as each side gets golden brown. It takes a few minutes per side, then onto a big serving plate they go.

Next finish the dish off by mixing the hot, creamy sauce.
Spicy Remoulade Sauce

Ingredients: 

1 cup mayonnaise
1/4  cup Dijon mustard (A spicy brown mustard works too.)
1/4 cup tomato, diced
1/4 cup onions, diced
2 teaspoons hot sauce, either Louisiana, Frank's, chili or Sriracha
A few tablespoons of pickle juice (Eyeball the thickness.)
a sprinkle of Worcestershire sauce
a sprinkle of soy sauce
a sprinkle of dried garlic
salt and black pepper to taste
parsley for garnish

Directions:

Stir the ingredients together with a fork and pour into a serving dish. Guests can add a dollup of the sauce on top of their salmon cakes.

This healthy dish is a real crowd pleaser. One can of salmon generously feeds four people. It's fancy, filling and frugal. It reminds me of ultra delicious bar food!

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Extra Storage Solutions

A PopHome ottoman
Do we ever have enough storage for all our stuff? To avoid clutter everything we own should have a home. After moving into a Manattan apartment, I learned to buy savvy pieces to help organize a room. Keep your space tidy with these useful, inexpensive furnishings:
Ottoman by Seville Classics.
1) Ottomans - A multi-purpose ottoman serves as extra seating; lets you put your feet up in comfort; and stores blankets, pillows; knitting and sewing tools; or toys. Some have tops that flip over to become a coffee table. The above oatmeal-beige ottoman not only seats a 400 lb adult, plus holdes lots of essentials, it folds up to be tucked away if not in use. Positioned near a door, it could house scarves, gloves, or shoes.

2) Walmart sells these adorable storing cubes - 2 for $15. While multiple storage units, consisting of 3, 4 or more cubes are also available, what I like about the single cubes includes: They are sturdy, mobile, have ample storage and a small footprint. You can use them as accent tables; and sometimes a pair of single storage cubes are all you really need to keep a room neat.

3) Acrylic Wall Mounted Shelves - The Container Store sells these, sleek, translucent, floating shelves. Available as single, double or corner shelves, their transparency is suitable for any type of room, leaving it airy.
           

4) Decorative Floating Wall Mounted Shelves - add style to a room while creating a place for your clock, phone or flowers. Small enough to fit beside a bed, near a couch or inside a nook.


5) Bathroom caddies - A shower, or bathroom space saving caddy helps you organize your necessities by using vertical square feet. I prefer the open, as opposed to, a closed, solid design -- which could box in a small bathroom to feel claustrophobic. Of course, an open caddy lets guests see everything, so you are forced to straighten up!

You don't need to shell out big bucks on storage solutions to be organized. Why pay more when these clever items help to get the job done!

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Thursday, August 18, 2016

My Strawberry Sherbet

Photo: it's already credited: onehundreddollars.com
 I don't own an ice cream maker, so what I should make is strawberry granita, but I use milk and a food processor to get a creamy sherbet-like consistency.   

Here are three very similar, yet different frozen desserts:

Granita is made of fruit purée, water and sugar. You freeze it in a shallow pan, then break up the icy mixture as it forms with a fork. They are called Italian ices in New York City.

Sorbet consists of fruit purée, water and sugar. It is frozen and churned in an ice cream maker. 

Sherbet is made with fruit purée, sugar and milk, or cream. It can have egg whites and/or gelatin as ingredients, but not necessarily. Sherbet is also frozen and churned in an ice cream maker.

Well, my dear readers, I can't trust myself with an ice cream maker. Ice cream is addicting. If I crave ice cream, it is better for me to go out to buy a cone ... with two scoops, rarely just one! So, here is my recipe for:

Strawberry Sherbet - sans an ice cream maker

Ingredients:

16 ounces of strawberries
3 tablespoons sugar (or Stevia to taste)
1/2 cup buttermilk (You can use any milk, including condensed milk, or yogurt. Skim milk works too, but it won't be as creamy.)
1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice

Optional: Add 1 teaspoon vodka, or strawberry liquor (It makes the sherbet softer.)

Directions:

1) Remove the steams and wash the strawberries.

2) Purée the fresh strawberries in a food processor. (I don't strain it. To me, that's like removing the pulp from orange juice. Why? Consume all the goodness!) 

3) Add the buttermilk (or the milk, or yogurt you are using), lemon juice and sugar. Pulse until well blended.

4) Pour into a shallow pan and place in the freezer.

5) Every half hour, use a fork to scrape and break up the ice. Return to the freezer. Repeat until the mixture is sherbet-like and finished. After about 2 hours, it will be ready to eat. 

6) You can also return the sherbet to the food processor for a few more pulses before serving.

In my opinion, this is pretty darn close to authentic ice-cream-maker-churned sherbet. Buy one of those machines at your own peril!

Extra tips:

1) If you can think ahead, slice and freeze the strawberries beforehand. Then you can throw them right into the food processor (+ the buttermilk, sugar, lemon, etc.) Eat straight from the food processor. It has a soft-serve sherbet consistency, which is tasty and refreshing. If you want a hard sherbet, you have to follow the two-hour method above.

2) A sliced frozen banana thrown into a food processor with a tiny amount of milk is creamy like ice cream. No sugar needed. You can easily make banana; or banana-strawberry soft-serve ice cream using a food processor.

Stay tuned: More favorite, yet easy recipes to come. Because. We have to eat every day!

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Bagging A Gepherrini


I'm not a true handbag maven. No exaggeration: I use a bag until the strap wears out, and it literally drops off my shoulder in the middle of the street before buying a new one. Happens to everyone, right? The few times, I'm forced to change purses, I always leave necessities out, like an ink pen, a hair comb, or a lipstick. So I only switch bags if I absolutely must ... to carry more stuff, or match an evening gown. 

Many women enjoy changing bags along with their shoes or outfits. Well, I have the perfect shop for a purse fashionista: Foravi -- with two locations: at 1067 Madison Avenue (on the Upper East Side), or 542 Broadway (in Soho). There you will find a chic collection of Gepherrini handbags.



Gepherrini has been making handsome, Italian, leather bags since 1989. The merchant focuses on quality, functionality and unique style. Even I love perusing through their collection of eye-catching handbags. Super cute. Sleek. Ultra practical and made well.

If you can't come to New York City, you can look online. The retailer also has a mobile app to download. When you need a new bag, it's a stylish brand to consider.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Best Anti-Aging Face Products For Less

Lovely Michelle Pfeiffer could teach a master class on how to age well. Sign me up!
Aging is a good thing. You would not like the alternative! Still none of us want to look old before our time. But, anti-aging potions to keep those lines, wrinkles and age spots away can cost $100s of dollars each, making them unaffordable for oridinary consumers. So today I'm doing a roundup of the best products -- the ones that really work, but cost less than high end brands. My fountain-of-youth finds contain the same effective ingredients, yet are budget friendly enough so that you can use them everyday.

Your Daytime Routine:






Layer your morning anti-aging face products in the following order --

1. Timeless Vitamin 20% C + E + Ferulic Acid Serum - Vitamin C fights free radicals, including oxidation, which causes aging. It also stimulates the growth of new collagen and helps with sun protection. Vitamin E helps vitamin C work better. "What is ferulic acid," you may ask? -- answer here. Think of ferulic acid as a stabilizer and booster of vitamin C.  [Check out Timeless, a company that makes several beneficial serums for cheap, here.]

2. Timeless Coenzyme Q10 Serum + Matrixyl 3000 + Hyaluronic Acid - These are antioxidants, peptides and moisturizing ingredients. I'm using this serum around my eyes. Can't hurt!

3. Sunscreen - This is the most effective (therefore, most important!) product to minimize aging. Use a sunscreen every single day under your makeup. 

Two lightweight choices include: 

a) Olay Regenerist Lotion With Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50 - This cream formula is interchangeable with Olay All Day Complete Moisture Lotion SPF 15, but is a slightly richer formula and will protect longer without reapplying. I like both.

b) Neutrogena UltraSheer Liquid SPF 70 - A liquid, it dries to leave no residue or stickiness. You only need to go up to SPF 30. A higher SPF factor doesn't do much more. So if there's a price difference, stop at SPF 30. If a retailer doesn't charge more for SPFs over 30, accept it as a gift. 

Other recommended sunscreen products include: 

c) L'Oreal's Miracle Blur with SPF 30 - An instant skin smoother finishing treatment. It's a matifier that takes away shine and helps to erase the look of lines, wrinkles and pores. The silky gel also provides a lovely base for your makeup; and finally ...

d) Physicians Formula Mineral Wear Talc-Free Mineral Airbrushing Pressed Powder SPF 30 - If you use a face powder to set your makeup, why not just select one with sun protection? This one sells for about $12, and often drugstores offer a 2 for 1 deal, so you can't go wrong!

In using sunscreens, many users switch formulas to suite the time of the year. For example, I might use a creamy sunscreen like the Olay Regrenerist Lotion with SPF 50 to moisturize my face in winter, but use the Miracle Blur treatment alone in summer due to the humidity. I like to use the face powder as part of my makeup all year around -- it's a great way to ensure I'm reapplying my sunscreen.

Your Night Time Routine:



Again, follow the steps in order when layering --

1. Noxema Skin Cream - I have washed my face with Noxema since the age of 14, and I always come back to it. During a shower I usually wash with SheaMoisture Soap. It is super moisturizing and never drying, even on my face.

2. The holy grail of anti-aging skin products is prescription strength Retin-A (Tritinoin) Cream - but you must transition into using it (and it is a lengthy process); otherwise your skin will flake, feel raw, be inflamed and hurt!

Until your skin can tolerate the strength of Retin-A, you will benefit from using non-prescription retinol, available at your local drugstore. Here are a few suggestions on good retinols. Both non-prescription retinol and prescription strength retinal-A will help soften the appearance of lines and winkles, speed up cell turnover and help generate new collagen.

3. Olay Regenerist MicroSculpting Serum - It has 3 anti-aging ingredients: peptides, hyaluronic acid and Vitamin B3. I've been using this for years.

4. Follow up with a rich night cream, such as Olay Regenerist MicroSculpting Cream. It's a super moisturizing face cream. None better! 

Honorable Anti-Aging Mentions:




Glycolic Acid - This brightens your skin by helping you shed dead skin and speeds up cell turnover. Many women like to alternate their use of a glycolic acid and retinol (or retinal-A).

a) THE SAVVY SHOPPER'S old friend, Angie Smith, recommends the L'Oreal Paris' Revitalift Bright Reveal line, with 4% glycolic acid.

b) Another winning brand is Planet Edan, which manufactures glycolic acid (liquids, gels and creams) in higher concentrations: Glycolic acid can penetrate the skin deeply to treat fine lines and acne. Just like with retinols and retinal-A, you must start slow when applying glycolic acid to your face. Your skin needs time to acclimate to higher strengths, or you could end up with chemical burns and scaring. Be especially careful with glycolic acid concentrations over 10%!

Non-greasy Face Moisturizers:






Here are 3 other face moisturizers with anti-aging properties that absorb easily into the skin. Apply them after face serums (and under your makeup, if you wish):

a) Olay Complete All Day Moisture Lotion - Conditions the skin with vitamins B3, C and E, along with SPF 15 sun protection. One of my staples, I use it as a face and body sunscreen - you must reapply SPF 15 sunscreen every few hours.

b) CeraVe Moisturizing Facial Lotion PM - Contains ceramides (they hold in moisture), B3 and hyaluronic acid. Plus, CVS Pharmacy makes a knockoff of this facial lotion.

c) Hyaluronic Acid Beauty Cream - Hyaluronic acid is naturally found in the skin, which traps moisture to help maintain firmness and elasticity. As we age, we lose moisture. This cream lubricates the skin with hyaluronic acid, glycerin, sunflower oil and heather. It is rich without clogging your pores. Feels so clean, it is the perfect summer face moisturizer. In winter, I follow this beauty cream up with a dab of the richer Puritan's Pride's Retinol Cream on my face -- it's my one/two punch against Old Man Winter!

These top-notch youth elixirs are as effective as pricey luxury brands, but you can afford to use them every day without going broke!

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Friday, August 5, 2016

Starbucks-esque Lemon Loaf

Original recipe here

This recipe has been circulating on Facebook, and I'm as susceptible to temptation as the next John, or Jane. For the first time in my life, I bought a bottle of lemon extract just to make it. 

Simple (no layers to fiddle with) and delicious, it was a success. As usual, I cut the sugar in the original recipe just a tad. Let me share my tweaked recipe below so that all of us can return here to make it:

Lemon Loaf

Ingredients: (for the loaf)

3 eggs
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1/3 cup lemon juice (Use fresh lemons, or ReaLemon concentrate.)
1/3 cup buttermilk                                    
1/2 cup olive oil (or any light vegetable oil)
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking power
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Take out two mixing bowls.

1) Pour all the wet ingredients into one bowl and combine with an electric mixer.

2) Combine all the dry ingredients in the second bowl.

3) Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Use the electric mixer just enough to combine them. Do not over mix.

4) Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees F for about 45 minutes. When the center is done, remove from the oven.

5) With a knife, scrape the sides of the loaf pan and cool for about 10 minutes before removing from the pan. Let the loaf cool completely before you top with a lemon glaze.

Lemon Glaze

Ingredients:

1/3 cup of powder sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

Directions:

Mix and drizzle the glaze over the top of the lemon loaf.

If you compare my lemon loaf with the original recipe, you will note, not only do I cut the sugar, I also make less frosting. Yet, my version is plenty sweet. 

Some folks like to add 1/4 cup of poppyseeds to their batter before baking, which turns it into a lemon-poppyseed loaf. 

What I like about a loaf cake is, it's half the quantity of a layer cake. You can satisfy your yin for a slice of cake (and even have enough to share) without having to eat it for a week. This lemon loaf is very lemony and refreshing. Enjoy!

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Monday, August 1, 2016

The Best Places To Go For Antiques And Home Decor

Photo: pickwickantiques.com
A shoutout to Invaluable for asking a brilliant question -- it's the subject of today's blog: Where are the best places to shop for antiques and home decor?

The word antique comes from Latin. It means old or ancientAn item must be at least 100 years old for antique dealers to call it an antique. According to Wikipedia, what makes an antique "desirable" is its "age, beauty, rarity, condition, utility, personal emotional connection," or uniqueness -- be it the design, craftsmanship, or its reflection of a bygone era.
Photo: www.charlestoncvb.com

So now that you know what antiques are ... how and where do you go to find them? 

Before getting started, think about the type of things you like. Is it old clocks, or telephones? Do you like oil paintings, or old movie memorabilia? Are you an Anglophile, or American Civil War buff? You want to surround yourself with art, furniture and accent pieces that you love. Your home decor should make you happy and express who you are. Moreover, unless you're a collector, it is likely your only goal is to find quality pieces for your home (not so much resale value). 

Once you decide you likes, look everywhere ... starting with your neighbors:

1) Yard sales - One person's junk is another person's treasure and usually at bargain prices. You never know what's been hiding for years in someone else's attic: furniture, art, rugs, china; or odds and ends, and they usually sell for just a few dollars.

2) Estate sales - Often families need to downsize, or simply can't keep everything they inherit from deceased loved ones, no matter how pristine and like-new the home goods are. Check local newspaper listings for estate sales. One of my neighbors has a pricey bedroom set and chef quality pots and pans bought at estate sales.

3) Craig's List - A colleague of mine loves antique furniture. She found a trunk and armoire for hundreds of dollars less by searching Craig's List. When you see high-end stuff at affordable prices pounce!

4) Likewise Ebay, Amazon, Etsy and iOffer are great online sources which link buyers to sellers. Most of these websites have customer reviews of the sellers and merchandise. Read what other customers have to say before buying.

5) Browse second hand stores and consignment shops - for inventory in good condition at the right price. A majority of second hand stores and consignment shops have high standards for what they accept to resale.
Photo: www.dragon-antiques.com

6) Home Goods and sister company, TJ Maxx - are not retailers where you will find true antiques, however each has expert buyers and you will be thrilled by the wide selection of home decor available. Major department stores like Macy's and Kohls also have a ton of stuff that look like antiques (in addition to unbeatable sales).

Finally, don't be afraid to mix high-end with low-end furniture. Your home will be uniquely yours. Buying mass produced decor from the likes of Pottery Barn and Walmart has never bothered me. Set your standard to nice. Nice things can be found in the most surprising places.

And now I'm turning you over to the experts: Invaluable.com put together a fun roundup of the Top U.S. Towns for Summer Antiquing, an informative, must-read for home decorating and inspiration!
This is my Pottery Barn area rug. Hand-tufted 100% wool, I love it!

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