Saturday, March 31

Purge, Overhaul and Organize!

 Waking up early is normal for me. The older I get, the less sleep I get. Sometimes I just lay in bed and watch old movies or read. Sometimes I get up and make a FULL breakfast for the P's. And other times you might find me dusting, redecorating my fireplace mantel or sometimes even laundry. Not so this morning. When I woke up at 3:26 am today I decided to sit down with my laptop and catch up on some of the blogs I follow.

    Organizing Made Fun came first. I love Becky's blog, she has THE best ideas for keeping your house clean and organized. But Fun? Is it Fun to organize I asked myself? I LOVE a clean home. I LOVE a home with NO clutter. But organized? Nope, that's NOT me {must be the creative side}.You may wonder how in the world can I, Mrs.P, have a clutter-free, clean home and NOT be organized. I will let you in on one of my deep dark secrets. I SHOVE everything, and I DO mean everything, into drawers, cabinets and closets. Yes it's true, and it drives Mr.P NUTS!* Becky posted a blog today which included 8 other women who have organizing blogs. Each one, taking a particular room in their home, performed feats of organizing skills.
  I tell you dear friends, the light shown down on me this early Saturday morning....the last day of March in the year of our Lord 2012. I am INSPIRED!  I am STRONG! I am DETERMINED! I quickly started a running list of great organizing ideas that our home NEEDS.
  I am determined to start with Elizabeth's closet. As her year long Debutante Commitments are coming to a close in May we MUST find a place for ALL of the formals we have acquired. I hate putting clothes away in her closet. It truly is an aerobic workout! I usually come out breathing heavy and sporting a red face. I have to bodily shove clothes into her drawers. Now I have a solution....and I am truly excited about the prospect of getting in there and gettin' biz-aay! Purge, overhaul and organize! I am posting this link for you today. I hope you find some inspiration as well and maybe, just maybe our little corner of the world will be a bit more organized! 



Elizabeth's room. Semi-clean and organized here. Closet is in the far right corner. We will post "after" photos! By the way, that's E up there in Bradley Red.


Friday, March 30

Kitchen Essentials: Pantry

  When shopping many cooks tend to focus on produce and other perishables. We make obsessive  lists, well I do, milk and juice for breakfast, lunchmeat for school lunches, and meat for dinner. In doing so, I often neglect my basic pantry needs. These basic pantry essentials are the backbone of many a great meal.
  Pantries that are stocked and well organized with care have the potential to inspire many impromptu meals. If I happen to stop at the Dallas Farmer's Market and pick up zucchini and summer squash, it's nice to go home and have the essential ingredients on hand for making a truly wonderful meal.
  I thought I would share with you some of my Kitchen Essentials: Pantry. My pantry list goes beyond basics like kosher salt and panko breadcrumbs. I am sure that's because I'm NOT a newlywed  and my pantry has evolved over the years. I choose pantry staples that are distinctive on their own but can also be used and adapted in a wide range of dishes.
  The items you buy will also differ depending on your style of cooking. For example, Aged Balsamic Vinegar is to Italian cooking as Rice Wine Vinegar is to Asian cooking. Both ingredients serve a similar purpose; a small splash can help dishes that just need a little "something."
  Like Old Mother Hubbard, I, Mrs.P,  get a little 'tense' when my cupboard is bare. Yes it's true. After coming in from the grocery store as I am organizing my fridge, freezer and pantry, Mr.P has observed and informs me that I hum the Happy-Full Pantry song. And I Do! I hope this guide will provide you with a jumping off point. Be prepared for the unexpected and keep your pantry and fridge stocked with the essentials for the many delicious meals in your future. Hopefully you will be humming the Happy-Full Pantry song as well!
P.S. Remember, this is MY list. It is adapted for my families use. Review what is best for your family, your pantry and adjust.

The Backbones of a Well-Stocked Pantry

All-Purpose Flour
Whole Wheat Flour
Cornmeal, white and yellow
Baking Powder/Soda
Sugar, refined
Sugar, brown
Sugar, Powdered
Vanilla and other flavored extracts
Panko Breadcrumbs
Kosher Salt
Peppercorns, black and green
Oils; Olive, Sunflower and Vegetable
Unsalted Butter
Cocoa Powder
Dark Chocolate*
A Variety of Spices for sweet and savory dishes
Salted Capers*
Worcestershire, Soy and Fish Sauce
Balsamic, Rice Wine, Apple Cider, Red and White Vinegars
Hellman's Mayonnaise*
Whole Grain Mustard*
Good quality cheeses:
Dried Pasta in a variety of forms
Rice; Brown, Long Grain and White
Dried Fruit
Frozen fruit
Canned fruit
Good Quality Canned Tomatoes
Good hearty Bread, wheat, rye
Citrus fruit, lemons,limes and oranges

*Hellman's Mayonnaise

Why: I'm not even going to get into it with all of you lovely folks out there that ADORE Miracle Whip. All I have to say on the subject is that 'it ain't mayonnaise people'. A good quality mayonnaise is used in sauces, dips, spreads and salad dressings. I could go on but what would be the point? Hellman's, check it a jar!

*Dark chocolate


Why: The percentage listed on chocolate labels indicates how much of the bar is cocoa mass versus sugar. Bittersweet chocolate usually starts at 70 percent, while semisweet usually tops off at 60 percent. I like to stock our pantry with chocolate that falls somewhere in the middle. Dark chocolate comes in around 65 percent, making it a good choice to keep on hand. It can be used in a wide range of baking recipes without changing it's integrity. It makes great hot chocolate too!

*Salted capers


Why: They have a salty, fruity flavor and can be used in many sauces, condiments and hors d'oeuvres.

*High-quality local Honey vs. the 'HoneyBear'

Why: Head to your local farmers' market for the best local options. Not only is the taste unrivaled it also aides in allergy relief. Honey is very versatile. It is used in dishes from savory to sweet and it doesn't make a bad peanut butter and banana sandwich either! I'm just saying.

*Whole-grain mustard

Why: Mustard provides many flavors in one condiment - sweetness, spice and acid. It helps emulsify salad dressings and adds zing! to sauces. It is fantastic on sandwiches made with dark rye bread!  Maille makes a very good whole-grain mustard. Things you can do with whole grain mustard:
-- Season a beef loin all over with salt and pepper, then coat with whole-grain mustard before roasting.
-- Spread on fish fillets, then top with olive oil seasoned panko crumbs, and bake.
-- Make a good thick pastrami sandwich on rye!

Remember these are merely suggestions and I'm sure after I post this I will think of something I forgot. As is usual for me! Overall this works for the Porter South household. With these 'bones' in my pantry I can throw together most anything. I keep a running list of  5 - 10 meals that are my family's favorites. I have all of the ingredients for each meal written down and I try to keep those items in my pantry, fridge and freezer, I try. So when Porter 1, 2 or 3 walks in the door and they ask "what's for dinner"....I can say..."what do you want?".



Wednesday, March 28

Stuffed Chicken Breast in Brioche with Green Peppercorn Sauce

This recipe is SO easy and versatile. It’s a really fun and tasty way to serve chicken for a change. Add  a little Green Peppercorn Sauce, and it goes from being a nice change to sublime...if chicken can be sublime. This sauce really kicks this recipe into high gear! Try it out some weekend and let me know what your family thinks. Mr.P and the brood thinks it is absolutely delicious! But then again Mr.P will eat ANYTHING!

Chicken Breast In Puff Pastry

4 chicken fillets, boneless and skinless
4 frozen puff pastry sheets
4 oz cream cheese, cubed and at room temperature
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
4-5 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
flat-leaf parsley, handful chopped
1 spring onion. chopped
1 large egg
 Cook bacon until crisp, drain and chop. Use as much or as little as you like.
 Chop a spring onion. More or less, again your preference.

Finely chop a handful of Italian flat-leaf parsley. It has a better flavor than curly
parsley. I LOVE Italian parsley, I use it in everything!

Add the Parmesan cheese, spring onions, Italian parsley, crumbled up bacon
and a good pinch of pepper to 4 oz room temperature cream cheese.

Mix it all up, if you like add any extras now a little garlic, chopped red chili
pepper flakes or even your favorite grated cheese if you like. Whatever tastes
good to your. You really can't mess this up. Just go wild! Think of fun
combinations. This version is my Italian, I also have a Pizza version, Chicken
Cordon Bleu, and my 'English' version, which is where this recipe started.
We ate this one night in a local pub in Stratford, is very mild.
Onions, mushrooms, parsley and cream. I don't use puff pastry in all of these
recipes.You are the cook here. No one is looking over your shoulder!

Make a fairly deep cut in each chicken fillet, spreading it out with your hands.
Fill your chicken breast with 1/4 cup of the cheese mixture. Fold chicken back in place.

Unroll your puff pastry sheets and make sure they are flat, I give mine a roll
 with my rolling pin.

Place the chicken on top of the puff pastry, with the cream cheese side down.
Season the chicken with a generous amount of salt and pepper.

Beat a large egg, and brush a little on the edges of the puff pastry.
Just fold them until you end up with small packages. The egg will act as a glue,
holding the pastry shut. Lightly brush the top of the puff pastry with the egg as well.

Pop them in a preheated oven, and bake at 400F for 30 to 35 minutes. After 20
minutes check to see if your pastry is browning too quickly. If so cover your
chicken bundles with non-stick foil.

Serve Green Peppercorn Sauce over chicken, oven roasted small red potatoes,
asparagus and a small green salad! YUM!.....not to mention easy!

Green Peppercorn Sauce

1 tbsp green peppercorns
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 oz butter or margarine
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp cream
VERY small red onion or 1/2 a small red onion, diced
Worcestershire sauce

Finely mince 1/2 a small onion.

I like a good kick to my sauce, so I’m going for 1 tbsp dried green peppercorns.
Feel free to tone yours down a little. Before you ask me if this can be prepared
with other colored peppercorns as well; I must honestly tell you I don’t know.
I always make my sauce with green peppercorns, so you’ll have to try it and
let the rest of us know how it goes with maybe a mixture of peppercorns.

I’m using my pestle and mortar that Mr.P bought me! I know he bought it for
me because I had been wanting one, but I'm wondering now if there was an ulterior
motive there??? Anyway, if you don't have a P&M you can also put the peppercorns
in a clean tea towel and pound them with a rolling pin or meat hammer. You are
going to coarsely pulverize them.

Melt 1 oz butter or margarine in a sauce pan.

Add the chopped onion to it. Cook over low heat for a few minutes, until the onion
becomes a little softer.

Add the smashed up peppercorns. Cook everything for another minute.

Have your vegetable broth ready, close at hand. Add 3 slightly heaping tbsp
all-purpose flour to your onions. Cook for 2 minutes while stirring occasionally.

Slowly, and while stirring, pour about 3/4 cup of  vegetable broth in with the roux.
It will appear thin, but as the sauce heats up your sauce will begin to thicken.
Once you make sure there are no lumps in your sauce add the rest of your veggie broth
See? It’s beginning to look quite yummy.

Take the sauce pan off the heat and add your cream. Finish the sauce with salt
and a splash of Worcestershire sauce.

This is a really simple and fantastic tasting sauce!


Monday, March 26

Healthy Breakfast Parfaits

This is what greeted me in our refrigerator door 3 days ago. Greek non-fat plain yogurt. Why? Mr.P went to Sam's alone. Along with the Greek yogurt he bought a half a flat of blackberries and an additional half a flat of strawberries. I must admit, I did a bit of scolding, my mother is cringing as she reads this...I KNOW! But I ask you....what are we going to do with a box of Greek non-fat PLAIN yogurt? I soon came up with a solution and quickly apologized to Mr.P. My mother can now relax and breathe a sigh of relief. Mr.P has been reprieved!

My solution came in the form of 'problem-solving'. Personally I don't do the best job of breakfast. My body can not handle eating all carbs early in the day. If I were to eat cereal at 8 am  I would experience a slight sugar low and become ravenous by 11 am. I am better off not eating breakfast all together than to eat carbs. I do try to keep some form of protein on hand for times such as these. You can always find a bowl of boiled eggs in our fridge. When I want something different, I will cut a few slices of my favorite cheese along with a few small pieces of ham and I'm good to go. So when I found myself faced with a box of Chobani Greek, yes flavorless!,Yogurt I thought....protein.....breakfast! Aha! I quickly looked up a healthy recipe for granola and made myself a breakfast parfait.

Mr.P and I have eaten breakfast parfaits at one of our favorite B&B's in Maine. I figured how hard can it be to 'wing' it. It actually went very smoothly and they are quite tasty. I think Mr.P and E agree with me. Here is the simple recipe I used:

Fruit, Yogurt and Granola Parfaits



  • 3 cups Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon vanilla, to taste
  • 4 cups raspberries, blueberries, black-berries, and/or sliced strawberries (about 20 ounces)
  •  I used the strawberries and Blackberries Mr.P purchased
  • 1½ cups Omega-3 Granola, recipe below
* Serve the parfaits within 15 minutes after assembling or the granola will begin to turn soggy.

What To Do

  • Whisk the yogurt, honey and vanilla together -thoroughly. 
  • Using four 16‑ounce glasses, spoon 1/4 cup of the yogurt-honey mixture into each glass, then top with 1/3 cup of the berries, followed by 2 tablespoons of the granola. 
  • Repeat the layering process two more times with the remaining yogurt, berries, and granola. Serve.
Yield: 4 servings

Per Serving: Cal 410; Fat 12g; Sat Fat 3.5g; Chol 10mg; Carb 63g; Protein 19g; Fiber 7g; Sodium 95mg

Omega-3 Granola


  •       1/3 cup sliced or slivered almonds                                                     
  •       1/3 cup walnuts, chopped coarse
  •       3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats*
  •       3 tablespoons canola oil
  •       ¼ cup sunflower seeds
  •       2 tablespoons sesame seeds                                                
  •       ½ cup honey
  •       2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
  •       ¼ teaspoon salt
  •       ½ cup raisins

*Note – Do not substitute quick-cooking or
instant rolled oats in this recipe, or the
granola will taste sandy rather than crunchy.

What To Do

  • Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Toast the almonds and walnuts in a 12‑inch skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until fragrant and beginning to darken, about 3 minutes. Stir in the oats and oil and continue to toast until the oats begin to turn golden, about 2 minutes. Stir in the sunflower seeds and sesame seeds and continue to toast until the mixture turns golden, about 2 minutes.
  • Off the heat, stir in the honey, flax seeds, and salt until well coated. Spread the granola evenly over a large rimmed baking sheet covered with non-stick foil. Bake, stirring every few minutes, until the granola is light golden brown, about 15 minutes.
  • Stir in the raisins. With a spatula, push the granola onto one half of the baking sheet and press gently into a 1/2‑inch-thick slab. Let the granola cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Loosen the dried granola with a spatula, break into small clusters. The granola can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Yield: about 6 cups

Per 1/2‑Cup Serving: Cal 230; Fat 11g; Sat Fat 1g; Chol 0mg; Carb 32g; Protein 5g; Fiber 4g; Sodium 55mg




.......STAY TUNED, I have a great homemade facial using plain yogurt, honey, oatmeal and eggs!


Saturday, March 24

I Like New York In about YOU?

                             NEW YORK!

 New York is the most ethnically diverse, religiously varied, commercially driven, famously congested, my eyes, the most attractive urban centre in America. Wow, what a mouthful!  New York City has added 'images' to our minds and words to our vocabulary. Wall Street means finance, Broadway gives us musical theatre, Fifth Avenue is automatically paired with shopping, Madison Avenue means the advertising industry, and Greenwich Village  makes me think of bohemian lifestyles. New York has more Jews than Tel Aviv, more Irish than Dublin, more Italians than Naples, and more Puerto Ricans than San Juan.....bizarre but true. It truly is a teeming metropolis where people of every nation are transformed into Americans—and if they remain in the city, they become New Yorkers.
  New York is not for everyone. Some find it complicated, over congested and even brutal. All of these things are true, so why do I find Manhattan to be thrilling and wonderful? I have NO IDEA. I like the chaos, noise and confusion. I love the crowds along Broadway when the now famous music theaters open their doors as the evenings musicals come to an end. I love running for the Cross Town Shuffle or through Grand Central Station trying to make the next train. I 'feel' safe there. New Yorkers are very optimistic people....they have to be or they might run mad down 7th Avenue. What does Sinatra's song say? If you can make it there you can make it anywhere. New Yorkers are a breed all there own and I LOVE VISITING.
  Now you may think I'm NUTS...but I do find NYC to be rather romantic. Mr.P and I choose to visit New York alone. We have taken our children, there again opening new doors and windows for them to view the world....but been there done that once and now we go it alone. Mr.P and I have a favorite boutique hotel where we stay on the 'quiet' side of town. We wander Central Park, the Bronx Zoo and the small back streets of Greenwich Village and SoHo. We have a few favorite walks we like to take. We don't walk them all every time we visit, but we try to hit at least one. I am going to share with you one of our favorite walks. It's our:

            Brooklyn Heights-Promenade-Bridge Walk


Mr.P taking a picture of my back!

                             Brooklyn Heights

Get a good map of Brooklyn Heights and hop on either the Red Line 2,3 or the Green Line 4,5 Subway that's heading to Brooklyn. You want to get off at the very first stop in Brooklyn, it will be Clark Street. When you exit the station you will be on the corner of Clark and Henry Street. This is an excellent jumping off point, you are now in Brooklyn Heights. Brooklyn Heights is, historically, the oldest suburb of Manhattan. Today the neighborhood still feels old-fashioned with it's ivy-covered brown stone homes lining quiet cobblestoned streets. Spend time wandering through the picturesque neighborhood, it is peaceful and shady. Walk down Pierrepont, there are so many gorgeous mansions that line this street they just can't be missed. When leaving the subway station if you head South down Henry Street, take a right on Pierrepont. You are now heading back towards the East River and the Promenade.

                   Brooklyn Heights Promenade

The Brooklyn Heights Promenade will take your breath away.  The city is filled with amazing views, but few can top the ones from this scenic third-of-a-mile stretch walk way. It is one of the most romantic spots in New York City.  The Promenade offers postcard-like views of the Statue of Liberty, the Manhattan skyline and the majestic Brooklyn Bridge. Lined with grand townhomes, mansions, beautiful gardens, ancient trees and benches, the promenade is a favorite destination for New Yorkers and visitors alike. Find a bench, sit and people watch. You will find a cross section of New Yorkers here, from nanny's pushing strollers to NYC Firemen taking a breather. Relax and enjoy the view.


  Mr.P takes a picture of me resting peacefully!

                                 Grimaldi's Pizzeria

By now it is usually time for lunch and we head to the famous Grimaldi’s Pizzeria to refuel. Grimaldi's is a Brooklyn institution. You do NOT want to miss the opportunity to eat pizza here. Expect a bit of a wait, there is usually a line out the door, but well worth the sweat and extra time spent. Get to know your fellow patrons as you stand in line because you will most likely be sitting right next to them once inside! We go for the classic Pizza Margherita, rich sauce, freshly made mozzarella cheese and basil.....YUM!
     Again Mr.P takes a picture of my backside!

Grimaldi's Address: 19 Old Fulton Street
Phone: 718-858-4300
Monday through Thursday 11:30am - 10:45pm;
Friday 11:30am - 11:45pm
Saturday 12pm - 11:45pm;
Sunday 12pm - 10:45pm

                         Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory

As if Grimaldi's were not enough of a respite, walking out the door we turn to our right and head down the hill to the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory! Well, come on, we need something to enjoy as we walk across the Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan. Good enough reason for ME to break for ice cream! And did I mention that it's delish too? It is a wonderful treat on a warm June day. Hopefully there will not be a line here as well. Grab plenty of napkins for your trip across the bridge.

Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory
Address: The Corner of Old Fulton and Water Street
Phone: (718) 246-3963
Hours: Sunday - Thursday 12 noon - 10pm; Friday & Saturday 12 noon - 11pm

                            Brooklyn Bridge

On to the Brooklyn Bridge for the walk back to Manhattan. After leaving the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, continue on Old Fulton Street to Prospect Street, make sure and follow your map. Prospect Street will take you past some busy streets and underneath a few expressway and bridge access ramps. Be careful and pay close attention. Where Prospect crosses Washington, look for the staircase that leads back up to the  pedestrian walkway on the Brooklyn Bridge.

The walk back makes me feel sentimental, wistfully yearning for a different era. I love this old wooden bridge. I love the sound is makes when I'm walking. It truly is a work of art and an engineering feat of it's time. From the bridge you can see great views of Manhattan. If you didn't notice the Statue of Liberty from the Brooklyn Promenade, you can see her to your left. The views of Manhattan's famous skyline are incrediable. Halfway across the bridge is a great spot to take pictures. STOP. TAKE PICTURES! Observe all of the activity on and over the river as boats, helicopters, and cars pass above and below you. People watch, one of my favorite activities while traveling, it can be very facinating! On our walks across the bridge Mr.P and I have seen everything from tours to photo shoots to small film crews. Even a Bride and Groom!


                                         Beautiful sweeping views from the Brooklyn Bridge.

                                City Hall Park

Once you're back on the island of Manhattan, find a bench in City Hall Park and enjoy a bit of people watching. The park is a cool and welcome spot to rest and plan your next adventure, even if you are just planning on where to have dinner. You can find the park across Center Street where Park Row comes to a point with Broadway, pretty much straight ahead of the bridge. Enjoy the cool of the afternoon, get your bearings and people watch.

                        SoHo and Balthazar

Here is were you may want to part ways with Mr.P and me. You may have tickets to a Broadway show or heading out to listen in at a local jazz club. If not here is how Mr.P and I end this particular day. MORE walking, yes I know, how could there possible be MORE walking?  After resting for a bit in City Hall Park we head uptown on Broadway. Roughly 10 blocks north up Broadway you will find the Cast Iron District. This area of Manhattan is known as SoHo, this name comes from 'South of Houston' Street. This hip area is a mecca for all shoppers. All of the trendy stores are located here Prada, Coach, etc. I shop as Mr.P takes photos of this district. The architecture is beautiful and lovingly maintained in the Cast Iron District. Get lost on the back streets and discover the 'true' New York. Mr.P and I find that getting lost and accidentally stumbling across an unknown store, jazz club or a kitchy bowling alley is more fun than a structured schedule. When we are about to run out of steam we head to the corner of Broadway and Spring where one of the best restaurants in Manhattan is located. Balthazar. This is the place to stop for fantastic, traditional French Bistro fare. They have a varied menu with selections from grilled trout, steak 'frites', homemade pastas, duck confit, roasted salmon and grilled lamb. You don't want to miss this wonderful treat, call ahead for reservations and enjoy.
Balthazar 80 Spring St at Broadway/ New York,NY 10012/ 212-965-1785


If it's still early enough we will stop in on one of our favorite jazz clubs and have a coffee and listen in for awhile. I truly hope that if you travel to New York you will save a day for 'walking'. You will learn to slow down and take a closer look at this chaotic city that I love so well. NEW YORK, NEW YORK