Let Them Eat Birthday Cake

I L.O.V.E. LLLLLLLLLOOOOOOVEEEEEEEEEEE my birthday. It’s the one day  when I am queen and protagonist. I like to think, that for 24 hours, my chakras are perfectly aligned, I have perfect skin, my metabolism is supercharged, calories do not count, I namaslay my yoga class, my credit card pays its self, my hair is full of bounce and shine, everyone is smiling at me and being uber kind, luck is on my side, the sun shines brighter on this day, and a super titanium shield blocks me from jerks and all BS floating around the universe. May 20th is my day and for 24 hours I am allowed to do as I please, even  become a narcissist.

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My mother was always BIG on our birthdays and created birthday loving monsters. From the moment the clock strikes 12, it’s MY DAY. I am always giddy to see who will be the first one to “win” and wish me happy birthday at midnight. In the elaborate novela that plays in my mind, the whole world is rivaling against each other (a la Hunger Games) to see who wishes me HBD first! That’s just how narcissistic I am about my special day! #owningmycraziness #sorrynotsorry

Notwithstanding all the hoopla, I am not a fan of birthday parties. That I can totally do without. Parties are suppose to be fun, but parties require alot of work and no one likes to work on their birthday. The insane micromanaging-hostess-with-the-mostest-tyrant in me does not allow for a laissez faire party. What I am huge on is receiving birthday wishes! I love the attention bestowed on me by my loved ones. I love facebook and text messages, thoughtful presents, like smelly candles, yummy creams, kitchen gadgets, gift cards to the spa, and heartfelt written notes. I love how every year, Juan Carlos wishes me happy birthday at midnight. I love how Mirka brings me flowers arranged by her with my cafe con leche. I love how my mother-in-law sends my present with a beautiful prayer attached at 9am sharp. I love how, without fail, my Tio Turi will call and  with his over-the-top personality, scream into the phone “HAPPPPPPPPYYYYYY BIRTHDAYYYYYYYYYYYY JESSIQUITAAAAAAAAAAAAA”.  I love how no matter what, my first email on May 20th is ALWAYS from Judy Stein. I love how my mom sings her idiosyncratic special birthday song “Today is Your Bday”. On hands and knees, I BEG YOU TO watch this video to fully grasp the scoop of my mother’s joie de vivre. You just can’t make this stuff up.

My birthday and Christmas are my favorite days of the year. The pickle is my husband is the grinch who stole birthdays. The man could careless about his birthday, my birthday, Jesus’ birthday (he isn’t so big on Xmas either) and anyone else’s birthday. I am 100% convinced he suffers from some sort of psychological affliction not yet discovered. He gets annoyed if I tell anyone it’s his birthday (take note: January 23). For years (11 to be exact), he, ignorantly, wouldn’t make any commotion concerning my day. How horrible,tragic and grossly apathetic is that? I was too embarrassed (young and stupid) to tell him I HATED HIM on May 20th for being so blase and lukewarm.

Every cloud has a silver lining, once married and living in Dominican Republic, I realized  I no longer had my birthday phalanx (mom, dad, sisters, extended family, girlfriends) to make a HUGE brouhaha for me. I was left with no other option than to take matters in my own hands. I “explained” ( I am 100% sure I lacked composure, civility, a decent decibel, and emotional intelligence) that he needed to buck up, put his birthday aloofness aside,  throw on a party hat and become the leader of Jessica’s HBD Brigade every May 20th for the rest of his life.

And so he did. Since then, every year for my birthday, he gets me flowers, a cake, and several over the top presents (apparently he didn’t get the memo on smelly candles and body cream and I am not complaining nor disclosing).

Warning: My birthday is May 20, a couple weeks away and my obnoxious birthday narcissism is brewing. I have started celebrating early this year and that brings me to the purpose of this post:

BIRTHDAY CAKE

 

 

When life kicks you in the a$$ and you hate everyone around, eat birthday cake. Forgive me for  advocating eating your emotions, but NOTHING in this world can numb your pain like a fluffly, light, moist slice of birthday cake. Well, perhaps some vicodin chased by a glass of merlot. My favorites are Patricia Reyes’ birthday cake, Publix Vanilla Buttercream frosting cake and Edda’s Cake.  In case of emergency, when none of these are readily available and you need a quick fix, I suggest you turn to my favorite alternative: Oreo Cookie Birthday Cake. Boom. Cue mic drop.

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Xanax in the shape of a cookie.

 

Here  is my go to, fool proof, easy homemade vanilla birthday cake recipe. It’s a million times better than the boxed stuff and I promise you it’s crazy easy to make.  It’s good for cupcakes too!

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VANILLA BIRTHDAY CAKE

(adapted from lifelovesugar.com)

INGREDIENTS:

  • ¾ cup salted butter, room temp (1stick +3/4 stick)*
  • 1 heavy cup white sugar
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups all purpose flour or cake flour (to make cake flour: 1 cup all purpose flour, remove 2 tbsp of AP flour and add two tbsp of cornstarch. Make sure to sift.)
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¾ cups full fat cow’s milk

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 inch springform cake pan with non stick spray.
  2. Sift flour, baking soda and baking powder in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.
  3. With paddle, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy.
  4. Add egg whites and 1 tbsp vanilla. Beat on medium speed until the batter becomes thick.
  5. On medium speed, slowly add half of the dry mixture to the batter and beat until combined.
  6. Add half of the milk until combined.
  7. Continue alternating adding dry mixture and milk, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, and beating until incorporated after each addition. The batter will be thick.
  8. If you want to make funfetti cake, now is the time. Fold in 4 tbsp of sprinkles. DO NOT FOLD too much because sprinkles will bleed.
  9. Pour batter in greased 9 in springform pan.
  10. Bake for 33 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. (18 minutes if making cupcakes).
  11. Remove cake from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  12. Remove cake from pan to cooling rack.
  13. Cool completely before frosting.
  • Before all you frenzied, cut throat bakers (Chef Micaela) dive into my jugular, I know you are suppose to bake with unsalted butter, but salted butter works PERFECT in this recipe. For my Dominican housewives, I swear by Rica salted butter.

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VANILLA BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

(I have had this recipe for 10 years. I do not know where it came from, but it is time tested and true. It’s a solid recipe.)

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup (2 sticks)unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar (might need additional cup)
1/4 cup COLD heavy cream
1 tbsp vanilla extract
salt, as needed

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Beat softened butter on medium speed with paddle aprox. 3 minutes until smooth and creamy. *Not necessary, but if mixing bowl is cold it’s better. I put mine in the freezer while I wait for butter to soften.
  2. Add powdered sugar, cold heavy cream, and vanilla extract while the mixer running.
  3. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 minutes.
  4. Add more powdered sugar if frosting is too thin or more heavy cream if mixture is too thick. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt (or more) if frosting is too sweet.
  5. Frost cooled cake as desired with a cold icing spatula.

*Sass it up and top with funfetti sprinkles or colorful non pareils!

IMG_0645What’s your go to cake recipe? I love to try out new recipes!

Follow me on instagram @Jessicathehousewife.  XOXO!

 

Housewife Does Proust

So it’s another long weekend here in Dominican Republic. I swear we have a long weekend atleast once a month. I am not complaining!  We stayed in the city this weekend because last Monday, I slipped and ended up banging my head and spraining my right arm. The doctor put me on rest for two weeks. TWO WEEKS! That means no yoga, no cooking, no driving, no chores, no anything for TWO weeks.

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What to do when you are going stir crazy at home? The Proust Questionnaire of course!

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My very favorite blogger, Ellie O’Connell, has ALS and is not doing well.  She is no longer able to write her incredibly funny, witty, oh-so-real, brutally honest, inspiring blog. (I highly recommend investing in a marathon read of her blog from the very beginning. It will make you laugh and cry so hard. I promise, she will end up being your best friend too.) Her last post was about the infamous  Proust Questionnaire and about how she will be posting a few of her fabulous friends’ answers. Her BFFs are the likes of Diandra Douglas and Yolanda Hadid.

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Yolanda Hadid, my favourite housewife with Ellie O’Connell, my favorite blogger.

I love these types of confessionals. It provokes conversation with yourself. You either realize you are a shallow fool or all your neurosis show up. Don’t judge, I am not as eloquent as 13 year old Proust. Here we go:

What is your idea of perfect happiness? To have peace of mind across the board.

What is your greatest fear? To be a widow, losing my mother, no one to care for me when I can no longer care for myself.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? I invest too much in people.

What is the trait you most deplore in others? Narcissism.

Which living person do you most admire? Jamal Garcia Rubido and my mother. Both women have overcome adversity without ever failing to propel forward with laughter, smiles, selflessness, and pure optimism. Regardless of the pain in the depths of their soul, it’s always about their kids and their happiness.

What is your greatest extravagance? Purses.

What is your current state of mind? Happy, safe and optimistic.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?  Righteousness. It can easily morph into closed minded arrogance with a side of intolerance.

On what occasion do you lie? When the truth hurts.

What do you most dislike about your appearance? My nose.

Which living person do you most despise? I do not despise anyone, but I feel strong disregard for abusive personalities.

What is the quality you most like in a man? Intelligence with kindness.

What is the quality you most like in a woman? Intelligence with kindness.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse? “Do I look fat?” “F*ck”, “oh my God”, and the incredibly annoying “woohooo”.

What or who is the greatest love of your life? Without a shadow of a doubt, Juan Carlos.

When and where were you happiest? May 2014 at the beach. Summer, in my mom’s bed, watching marathons of Real Housewives with her.

Which talent would you most like to have? To be able to sing. I was told junior year in high school that I was tone deaf. It broke my heart.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? My anxiety. It has kept me from doing so many things.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? To have created a loving, happy, and peaceful home for me and my husband.  In addition, as superficial as this may sound, to have lost weight.

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? Andy Cohen, Oprah or Cindy Crawford.

Where would you most like to live? Miami or Malibu.

What is your most treasured possession? My wedding rings and my Mime (pillow I have had since I was 2 years old).

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Finding yourself alone in this world.

What is your favorite occupation? Being a housewife.

What is your most marked characteristic?  I am talkative.

What do you most value in your friends? Loyal friends who reciprocate love and are present.

Who are your favorite writers? Jodi Picault, Emily Giffin, and Julia Alvarez.

Who is your hero of fiction? Noah from The Notebook.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?  Nelson Mandela.

Who are your heroes in real life? My parents and my husband. All three are constantly saving me.

What are your favorite names? Harry.

What is it that you most dislike? Mean people who make fun of others. Arrogance. People who take advantage of their position of power. Dirty homes.

What is your greatest regret? Not following through.

How would you like to die? In my sleep.

What is your motto? Be kind, for everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about.

Play with me! Fill out the questionnaire and share below in the comment area!

Follow me on instagram @Jessicathehousewife.

My Tramp Stamp

At first, you would think it was a lovely detail. Second glance, you wonder if there was a two for one, some type of BOGO. As you begin to really focus, you realize there is some kind of preppy neurosis. The scope of this bizarreness hits you.  Is it waspy narcissism? Or maybe it’s that OCD of hers.

Hi. My name is JMR and I am a monogramaholic.

Confession: I have officially transitioned from detail oriented into full blown TACKY. I monogram everything. Napkins, tablecloths, placemats, doillies, towels, bed linens, pillow cases, duvet covers, throw pillows, blankets, button down shirts, handkerchiefs, cufflinks, boxer shorts, casserole carriers, canvas bags, laundry bags, shoe bags, dress bags, leather boxes, tie holders, pajamas, luggage, yoga towels, stationary, soaps, paper towels, matches, chocolates, tupperware, Christmas ornaments, and so on. If I could slap my monogram on Juan Carlos and Harry, I would. It’s my tramp stamp. #JMR. The monogram situation at Casa Rodriguez is overwhelming. I am not in denial… it’s one too many and it’s right out tacky. I have no control over my monogram urge. There is not one linen under this roof that does not have some variation of my name on it.

I don’t do well with unregistered property. This trauma is a direct result of catholic schooling, where God would strike you dead if you did not put your name on every item that belonged to you. There was always a stealthy nun on a mission for nameless property. Claiming  something out of lost and found that did not have your name on it was like openly admitting you had a 16 oz cheeseburger, washed it down with a chocolate shake (or wine), while listening to Madonna’s Like A Prayer on Lenten Friday. It’s a one way ticket to hell FOREVER.

 

 

The font, colors, lines, and size of the monogram says so much about you.  It’s not a matter of making your guest bath towel look southern traditional chic, it’s a matter of a plain white towel showing  flair and character. It’s about making a non descript item, yours. And yes, I am, as is your mother-in-law (perpetual theme), judging you harshly when your guest bathroom towels are not monogramed or worse…….are monogramed improperly (gasp).

The wrong monogram will send you and your reputation into housewife damnation. Granted,this is archaic thinking, superficial, and total first world problems, but honestly, do you want to be the girl who did not properly monogram her linen dinner napkins? Post dinner party chats can be cruel and relentless. That cold-blooded frenemy of yours isn’t going to let it slide that easily.You and your faux pas napkins will be THE topic of post yoga lattes and several what’s app chats.

 

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Call me trap queen. Here is the best cheat sheet for modern monograming rules. I love this  because it includes equal rights.

Monogram inspiration click here and here and here and here.

 

 

You can follow me on instagram @jessicathehousewife.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Easter Break and Instagram Apocalypse

Easter break has sucked the life out of me. Maybe it was my over eager enthusiasm for all things spring that set me up for the fall. I will puke at the sight of another poached egg, hydrangea arrangement, and pretty in pink nail polish. I will gladly set fire to all baby blue seersucker pants, residual egg baskets and Easter bunnies. All I can say is I welcome back my regular schedule…..I think.

Yesterday was our first day back after two weeks of laziness, zero structure, laissez-faire attitudes and it was a hot mess. Everyone was off, including every person I follow on instagram pleading and promising their first born to all who turned on their post notifications.

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To say that an urgent exorcism in this home (and instagram) was needed, is an understatement. Foul moods prevailed. Mirka had her wicked witch on in full force. Marco was using 1/8 of his brain power and annoying the rest of us with his blessed cheery disposition. Harry was taken over by Satan and was incessantly bitching, barking, and biting anyone who stepped within a 2 mile radius of his bed.

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Angry Harry.

I was ready to drop kick anyone who got in my way, as Isaias (the building custodian) and the dry cleaner attendant can attest to. The WWE meets Real Housewives of Atlanta is kid’s play compared to the shade between me and Mirka.  Our version of Real Housewives/Wrestlemania hit an all time low when I walked out to run errands without saying good bye to her. So in retribution, she hit below the belt, and refused to eat lunch solely because I had made it. (She also refused to eat some delicious cupcakes I made.)  Had I not left to yoga when I did, I am sure we would have ended the day in a duel. In short, this home (and instagram) was in Armageddon and we were acting like wild beasts on fire, taking down anyone in our horizon.

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To deny this cupcake is pure insanity.

Twenty four hours after our Easter break comeback apocalypse ,the tension and aggression has settled, common courtesy is rearing its head, instagram still has a cronological ordered newsfeed, and smiles are starting to make a debut. This craziness leads me to wonder: What is it about unstructured living (a.k.a. vacation) that throws everyone off balance? Shouldn’t we have returned to regular life with optimism and refueled boosts of energy? Rested minds and bodies should induce smiles, creativity and enthusiasm. All it induced was excessive sarcasm, an evil dog, a hunger strike and a whole bunch of door slamming. Do we do too much with our time off that it becomes more work than vacation resulting in pure exhaustion and a need for a vacation from the vacation? Or is it lack of structure that manufactures wild beasts revolting against discipline, schedules and organized living?

Whatever it may be, a new day has dawned. Slowly, we are getting back to normality. I am zipping around doing my Monday chores on Tuesday (it was that bad, that we rescheduled Manic Monday!) All that is left to say is: WELCOME BACK TO REAL LIFE! Now, when is our next break?!!! XOXO!

Follow me on instagram (and if the spirit moves you to turn post notification on) Jessica The Housewife and on twitter at jthehousewife.

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Back to our regular program, means doing groceries today!

 

 

 

 

 

Housewife Down

IMG_2621Housewife down. It’s officially day 3 of the flu and the future seems meek. My chest and head are a pressure cooker of phlegm, two golf balls are lodged in my throat, my nose is reminiscent of Niagara Falls, fevers come and go, my lungs are about to collapse from incessant coughing and sneezing and my body feels like it has been run over by a Mack 10 truck. I am in hell.

Mirka is in a tailspin playing nurse and mauling over any innocent bystander that gets in her way. She is in a state of frenzy, decontaminating the house and changing my socks every 30 minutes. Apparently, sock changes decrease the risk factors of flu complications. Convinced that this specific flu (she is still not sure it’s not Zika) is due to a weakened immune system, a direct result of my eating habits (or a mosquito), I have been condemned to chicken soup and beef consume for the past 3 days. She has vetoed all requests for a warm latte, because lactose free milk thickens congestion. She is pretty much ready to push a Vick’s vapor rub IV in me.

And then there is her version of flu medication. The Holy Grail of remedies. It’s a repugnant concotion of red onions, passion fruit, radish, ginger, honey, lemon, and cinammon. Like the bully she is, she just sits there, intimidating and oppressing the sick, staring at me until I have atleast half a cup. I simply do not have anything left in me to stand up for myself. I have succumb to her tyranny. I surrender.

I don’t know what is worse Mirka nursing me to health, Donald Trump being GOP candidate, or death.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boozy Beurre Noisette Banana Blondies

 

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Confessional: I have a weakness for sweets. Juan Carlos can eat an entire herd of cows, as long as I can have my sweets. I love to bake! Ever since I was a little girl, I had a thing for baking.

Here is a recipe for Boozy Beurre Noisette Banana Blondies. Beurre Noisette means brown butter, which is absolutely one of my favorite techniques for baking. This is real simple  and oh so yummy! Switch it up from your old school blondies, and give these cakey version a try! The recipe is absolutely forgiving, so you can work it to your palate’s desire.

Banana Blondie:

  • 1 stick of unsalted butter*(brown butter)
  • 1 cup of light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsps of vanilla ( I love vanilla so I do 1 tbsp)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda (omit if you do not like cakey blondies)
  • 1 ripe banana mashed (1/2 cup)

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Boozey Glaze:

  • 1/4 cup of unsalted butter **
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp whole milk
  • 1 tbps bourbon ( you can omit, but I like boozy sweets!)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

 

Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8×8 baking dish with foil. Spray with cooking spray.

Begin by making beurre noisette (brown butter). In a light colored pot, over low heat, melt butter.

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The butter will start to foam, stir occasionally.

The butter will change color to a gorgeous honey amber brown.

When it is a pretty golden brown, you are ready to rock -n-roll. There will be a delicious nutty smell. Here is a link to Chef You Tube with details to this fantastic and incredibly delicious technique. You can read a little more about it  here  and  here too!

Let beurre noisette cool down a few minutes.

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Mix flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar.

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Add egg and vanilla. Mix well.

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Slowly add dry ingredients while mixing.

When fully combined, add mashed banana and mix.

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Pour in 8×8 baking pan.

Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Remove from oven and let pan cool .

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While the pan is cooling, prepare glaze.

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This beurre noisette version of the glaze.

You can chose which type of glaze: Brown Butter Glaze or Non Brown Butter Glaze.**

A)For the brown butter version: Brown 1/4 unsalted butter. Once the butter is golden brown, add 2 tbsp of whole milk. Stir.

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Brown butter version of the glaze

OR……

B)For the non brown butter glaze: melt butter, add 2 tbsp of whole milk, stir.

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Non brown butter version of the glaze.

After deciding on either option A or option B, bring to a boil and remove from heat.  Add 1 tbsp of Jack Daniel’s bourbon (you can omit if you are fresh out of rehab) and stir.

Let cool for 3-5 minutes.

Whisk in powdered sugar. Let sit for a few minutes.

When Banana blondies are cool, evenly spread glaze over.

Once the blondies and glaze are completely cooled down, cut into squares.

Optional:Fancy them up by drizzling squares with nutella or dark chocolate. ENJOY!

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Boozy Beurre Noisette Banana Blondies with non brown butter glaze
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Beurre Noisette Banana Blondies with Beurre Noisette Bourbon Glaze

 

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Drizzle some nutella!

(Adapted from Cookies & Cup)

*Baker’s Blasphemy: I use salted butter. I know Micaela is going to smack me with a whisk, but I really, really, really love using Rica salted butter (Domincan butter). It’s my absolute favorite and it’s never strayed me the wrong way.

** You do not have to brown the butter for the glaze. It’s up to you. Either way works well!

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GAME OVER!

 

Follow me on instagram @jessicathehousewife and on twitter @jthehousewife.

 

Spring Has Sprung!

People, WAKE UP!!!!!!!! That dreaded hump time after the holidays and before March is over.

January and February are purgatory. It’s a time period notorious for nothing , except a ground hog. Brown on brown is the color du jour. Nude nail poilish is at a high. Nothing fun ever happens during these 8 weeks. There are no colors or themes or delicious menus. It’s BLAH time.

But MARCH…… March is the promise of a new day! March delivers SPRING!  And all I can say is WOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

Take a deep breath and open your eyes!!! Time for pretty colors and spring flings. Brunches come alive again with poached eggs over asparagus and boozy St. Germain cocktails. The sun can’t resist to shine.The air is fresh and the sky is the perfect blue. It’s comfortably warm during the day, crispy breeze at night. Cherry blossoms and peony candles come alive. Plans for spring break at the beach percolate. Pink nail polish, white linen and espadrilles become our outfit of the day.  I love SPRING!

And then we have the baptism of joy, the piece de resistance, the reason we live in agony for 8 weeks, the birth of happiness: SPRING FLOWERS! (insert standing ovation)

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What would spring be without SPRING FLOWERS????? Come on! Who doesn’t love themself a yellow tulip?

Flowers bring color and life to your space. They bring the outside in. They create ambiance, define your home’s aesthetic, and give a glimmer into your personality. Every home needs fresh flowers. Cheap excuses, like they die so quickly, are not reason enough to not buy them. I was going to say something highly inappropriate like why marry him if he is going to die in a few decades, but I will keep what little is left of my propriety and instead say  why make the bed if your going to get back in it. You make the bed and you buy flowers because you are not a hot mess, your mother raised you right, and you care about your living space. Discussion closed.

Every Tuesday, I go to the local flower shops. I walk the freezers and usually buy white flowers. I am not prejudice to type of flower (except carnations, I hate carnations), just color. When March rolls around, white flowers be damned. I go wild and aim for the brightest flowers in the shop. This week was fantastic. The colors were instagram worthy! It was a sea of flowers and I was giddy!

Here are some pics from my adventure this week:

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I am a fan of small, organic, understated arrangements. I like the I-picked-these-flowers-in-a-meadow look. The Georges V is breathtaking, but it isn’t always the right look in your pottery barnesque family room. I love me some Jeff Leatham and Preston Bailey, but it’s not real, every day life. An arrangement can quickly go from elegant and tasteful to gaudy and tacky with half a dozen roses too many and 3 inch stems too long. The last thing you want to hear from your mother in law is: “well, aren’t those flowers bright and over the top.” That’s passive aggressive speak for “my son married trash”.  That said, it doesn’t give you a free pass to be lazy and just toss in disheveled flowers from Publix in a vase with water. Pick your flowers with care, work with them, clip and arrange according to their natural flow.

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The day I meet Preston Baily.

 

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BFF’s Jessica The Housewife and Preston Bailey

Here are a few pictures of my arrangements this week. Again, not fancy and not perfect, but perfectly me!

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What are your favorite spring flowers? What color scheme do you follow? Do you keep the discipline of always having arrangements at home?

Please follow me on instagram @jessicathehousewife and on Twitter @jthehousewife.

The Spice Girls

One of my culinary pet peeves is to find a mouthwatering recipe and as I’m dancing through my mise en place, pathetically discover I am missing one tiny key ingredient. A spice like cloves or fennel seeds, not stuff you use everyday, but really something so simple that to schlep back to the grocery store for 1/8 teaspoon of cardamom just disintegrates and sours the intent, inertia kicks in, and the result is a cheese sandwich.

I have made a list of spices I always keep stocked in my pantry.

Scratch that. Who am I kidding? This is not helpful at all. I have the Carrie Bradshaw shoe closet of spices.  My very own personal Indian spice market. The truth is, most I use once or twice a year. I have 2 bottles of mustard seeds and I don’t even know what to use mustard seeds for. Anyone? Recipe? So I am turning this ship around and going back to basics.

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I decided to get scientific and collect data (#analyticalhousewife). I created my Kitchen Dream Team composed of my bad ass girlfriends (and Roberto) who KNOW how to cook hard core. These ladies (and Roberto) are kitchen gurus, culinary virtuosos, maestros of the dinner table. Ladies with swoonworthy instagrams. These are the ones you call when a recipe goes awry and your mother-in-law’s E.T.A. is 3.5 minutes. These are the dames (and Roberto) that you fast, for a minimum of 72 hours, prior to their dinner party so you are 1000000% sure you will have ample space in your gut for everything served. They are the best of the best. Some are chefs, others successful restauranteurs, caterers, or just master housewives who slay in the kitchen.

Without further ado, here is my Kitchen Dream Team:

Roberto Blanch  Family friend (framily), who will single-handedly bring Italians to their knees begging for more of his risotto.

Katy Rood  My food soulmate and Culinary Supreme Goddess. ALL HAIL THE QUEEN.

Sarah Troncoso  Casa De Campo’s most coveted  event coordinator and french cuisine master who taught me that “when in doubt add butter.”

Chef Micaela Tolentino My daily food consultant and guide, who happens to be the GREATEST chef ever and my dearest friend. She created my favorite cookie: Deconstructed coconut macaroons. Mica is a culinary scholar.  From simple traditional staples, to elaborate recipes to pastries and health food, she knows the ins and outs and is a walking gastronomical wikipedia. She is a master of her craft and my mentor.

Karina Rizek  My fellow housewife and dinner party expert. Her impeccable design aesthetic flows seamlessly from menu to tablescape, including the perfect playlist and guests to match. Her husband’s wine selection is always on point, but we all know that behind every great man, is a FABULOUS woman telling him what she needs to be done!

Raquel Baquero She taught me to eat REAL sushi. She is a foodie and gifted in the kitchen. She also introduced me to Thai food in 1998, a palate alternating experience. (Thai Toni, South Beach, coconut milk lobster soup.)

Ani Mederos  My FAVORITE instagram account, who has me in an acute state of #foodenvy. Her hashtag #allwetalkaboutisfood will take you on a titillating journey of her culinary art.

Lina Latorre  My really kind and sweet yoga teacher (Full story here) , who is also a vegetarian and health food enthusiast.

Yahaira Attias  Maker of the best cielito lindo and tuna tartare known to man. No matter how many times I try to replicate her tuna tartare, I always fall short.

Chef Patricia Reyes The Dominican Cake Boss. She makes my favorite birthday cake. Her butterceam frosting is sinful. She is also gin tonic expert, and should moonlight as a comedian.

Nuriana Pimentel  My fellow skinnytaste zealot and raw honey connoisseur.

Lesely De La Torre My  foodie sister-in-law, who loves an exotic recipe challenge and a farmer’s market. Her culinary aptitude rivals Anthony Bourdain.

Chef Vanesa Gaviria  Chef and restaurateur, she runs the show at  La Cassina (prepare to salivate). Vanesa, along with Micaela, are responsible for introducing me to my signature cocktail, St. Germain and the best eggs benedict. She studied her art in Paris, her fantastical gastronomic imagination knows no boundaries.

Chef Laura Morell  Vegetarian, dog lover, and health food chef, notorious for the fanciest gourmet pastelitos on planet earth. Here is Laura’s IG.

Terrily Rodriguez  My gorgeous and sexy lifelong bff and wine partner. She introduced me to the crock pot and slow cooking in this house was never the same.

Erika White  My other lifelong bff and favorite food critic. She is painted on the wall of NYC’s The Palm Restaurant. She is ridiculously intelligent, witty  and pretty. I believe she  should hold court on the Michelin team.

Laura Rivera  Representing the Vega-Rivera kitchen (well worth our envy), fellow foodie and also a skinnytaste cult member.

Mari Catano Because it is my dream team and there should always be fun be in the kitchen. She makes me laugh, pours a great glass of wine, is a skinnytaste groupie, and is a schooled housewife, like me.

*Mirka ceremoniously proclaimed she could not participate in any questionnaire because she would never reduce herself to use any seasoning that is not salt, pepper, or dried oregano. Capo di tutti Capi is still bitter over the washing machine (story here). #coldcoffeehasbeenserved

**Jamal Garcia Rubido was immediately eliminated when she responded Publix rotisserie chicken.

I asked The Spice Girls: Besides salt and pepper, what are the top five spices that must be in your kitchen? (Now isn’t this much more practical info?)

I was prepared to google their responses. I swore, without a shadow of a doubt, they must use the most exotic spices. The answers surprised me. For one, EVERY SINGLE PERSON answered that their first choice is always FRESH. Something must be said, when 18 different people first respond the very same thing. Second, they don’t use fancy spices (except for cardamom).

spice 3

These are the results:

#1 Cinammon

#2 Garlic Powder

#3 Cumin, Curry, Nutmeg (whole/ground not specified) and Oregano(dried/ground not specified)

#4 Cayenne Pepper, Onion powder, Red Pepper Flakes, Dried Rosemary, and Dried Thyme

#5 Dried Basil, Paprika, and Turmeric

#6 Saffron, Tarragon, Dried Parsley, Cardamom, and Coriander

Loaded with this information, here is a COMPLETE list of spices you can stock to rival my spice pantry.

Red denotes MUST HAVE.

  • Achiote
  • Adobo (recipe below)
  • Allspice (ground)
  • Allspice (whole)
  • Anise (star)
  • Anise seed (Aniseed)
  • Basil (dried)
  • Bay leaf
  • Bouillon –Beef,chicken and vegetable
  • CardamomFULL DISCLOSURE: I have no idea what you use this for besides an indian dish, but 8 members of The Kitchen Dream Team listed it, in the spirit of authenticity concerning the data collected, I had to list it as a must.
  • Cayenne Pepper (ground)
  • Celery Salt
  • Chesapeake Bay Seafood Seasoning
  • Chilli Powder
  • Chives (dried)
  • Cinammon sticks
  • Cinnamon (ground)
  • Cinnamon sugar
  • Cloves (ground)
  • Coriander (ground)
  • Cream of Tartar
  • Cumin (ground)
  • Curry
  • Dill weed
  • Fennel seeds
  • Garam Masala
  • Garlic powder
  • Garlic Salt
  • Ginger (ground)
  • Herbes de Provence w/lavander
  • Herbes de Provence w/out lavander
  • Honey (raw)
  • Italian Seasoning (recipe below)
  • Lemon Pepper Seasoning
  • Liquid Smoke
  • Malaguete pepper (whole)
  • Maple Syrup Grade A
  • Marjoram
  • Molasses
  • Mrs.Dash Salt free
  • Mustard Seeds
  • Nutmeg (ground)
  • Nutmeg (whole)
  • Onion Powder
  • Oregano (dried)
  • Oregano (ground)
  • Paprika
  • Paprika (sweet AKA Pimenton)
  • Paprika (smoked AKA Pimenton De La Vera)
  • Parsley (dried)
  • Pepper -Black Peppercorn Supreme
  • Pepper- Peppercorn medley
  • Pepper-Pure ground pepper
  • Pizza Seasoning
  • Poppy Seeds
  • Pumpkin Pie Spice (recipe below)
  • Red Pepper Flakes/Crushed
  • Rosemary (dried)
  • Saffron Threads
  • Salt -Chardonnay Smoked
  • Salt- Applewood Smoked
  • Salt- Coarse Sea Salt
  • Salt- Iodized salt
  • Salt- Pink Himilayan salt
  • Salt-Broiler salt
  • Salt-Maldon Sea Salt Flakes
  • Salt-Smoked Sea Salt
  • Salt-Truffled Salt
  • Sesame Seeds –Black
  • Sesame Seeds- White
  • Sicilian Seasoning
  • Steak and Burger Seasoning
  • Taco Seasoning (recipe below)
  • Tarragon
  • Thyme (dried)
  • Turmeric
  • Vanilla Beans
  • Vanilla- Dark
  • Vanilla-White

spices 2

 

MSG Free Recipes:

  • Adobo Seasoning Recipe 1 :2 tbps table salt, 2 tsp garlic powder, 2 tsp ground black pepper, 2 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp turmeric. Mix in food processor.
  • Adobo Seasoning Recipe 2Recipe here
  • Taco Seasoning Recipe: Recipe Here
  • Pumpkin Spice Recipe 1: 3 tbsp ground cinnamon, 2 tsp ground ginger, 2 tsp ground nutmeg, 1.5 tsp ground allspice and 1.5 tsp ground cloves. Mix together.
  • Italian Seasoning recipe Recipe Here

 

Spice For Thought:

  • Coriander and Cilantro Read Here.
  • Paprika and Pimenton Read Here
  • Anise and Aniseed Read Here
  • Allspice is the same as Dominican malagueta and Jamaican Pepper (nutty flavor). Malaguete pepper is a type of chilli (hot spice). Two different spices.
  • For some odd reason, Americans decided to add lavander to herbes de Provence. Traditional herbes de Provence, from the south of France, does not have lavander.

Tips:

Best tip I ever received was from Maritza Selman. After hearing me complain about having to toss out spices due to lack of freshness, she wisely told me to store my spices in the fridge. BRILLIANT!!! Having a flair for the dramatic, I took it a step further and keep my expensive spices, along with flour (you can buy almond flour or a car, your pick), in the freezer. Best tip ever! Thank you Dona Maritza!

Whole spices hold freshness longer than ground. The flavor is usually stronger as well. Consider this when shopping. #morebangforyourbuck (Alejandro Fernandez would totally approve this tip!)

I keep a 14 inch Lazy Susan/Turntable with the spices I use daily on the counter, away from the stove. The heat from the stove will harm the flavor and freshness.

Dominican Housewives:  I buy all my spices at Carne Y Co. The owner, Anabella de Castro, has scrutinized a perfect selection with superior quality.

What spice can you not live without? Is there any I should add to the list? Anyone have a great recipe for cardamom and mustard seeds? How does your spice pantry measure up to the complete list? Do you have your own Kitchen Dream team? Would love to read your comments below!

Follow me on instagram @jessicathehousewife and on Twitter @jthehousewife.