Hope everyone had a relaxing weekend whether celebrating Easter or just doing a little something wonderful for yourself.    

This being the first full weekend Geno was home after an entire grueling month away on business (and I'm sure it was hard on him too:-), we just wanted to hang out at home, relax and enjoy something home cooked with family and friends.

My son Luke decided to go for a mountain bike ride with some friends during the day while my daughter Lily got invited to a friend's.  Geno puttered around the house, tinkered in the garage, and blew some leaves from the driveway, so I had the kitchen all to myself!

I set the table…


And got started on dinner:

sweet potato chips w/ bleu cheese dip (for hors d'oeuvres)


Sorry no pic of the chips.  I had to make them in small batches and we ate them all before I got to take a photo.  But, they were great- especially sprinkled with the chili powder/salt mixture.

Braised beef…

 This photo was actually taken the next day (Sunday) when we ate it for leftovers.

Mashed potatoes…IMG_0595

and apple tart


An little lesson learned about the beef… I doubled the recipe and as such, thought I needed to add more cooking time, but not double the time since the meat was cut in half.  When I took it out of the oven, it tasted like beef jerky!!!  I was sure I overcooked it.  I called my excellent cook friend – Teri who – without a pause – told me to keep cooking it.  So I did, and it was perfect when I took it out!  I will definitely be making this next Passover!

Later we joked that she should start a real-time cooking help website.  It sounded like such a good idea, I thought I would look into it for her… Turns out there is a company called Chefsline.  Just out of curiosity I decided to pose my question to see if their chefs were as knowledgeable as Teri.  Well, instantly "Chef Adam" appeared on my screen and asked what the problem was!  In about 5 mins total, he assessed my situation (even though it was already resolved) and gave me the same advice!  It turns out that this company has a completely interactive website allowing users to interact with professional chefs whenever you are in a bind.  They have different levels of membership (starting at $4.95/month) on up (although was put right in touch with a chef). The higher levels also include one-on-one cooking classes with a chef.  If you have a webcam, they can see your dish and help you along, or just communicate via computer or phone.  

Isn't this a good idea?   Great wedding gift idea for those summer weddings coming up! 


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