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 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).

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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

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Manic Monday: Mirka vs The Machine

If you thought you had heard the last of the washing machine struggles at Casa Rodriguez, guess again. Grab a seat and join me in a stiff drink. The Washing Machine Saga now has a part deux.

As you have all probrably surmised by now, Mirka is a key player in this house. Although her official title is home manager, she might as well assume the title Godfather. She is notorious for being the “capo di tutti capi”. Her alter ego is Tony Soprano meets Carlo Gambino. Nothing moves without her approval. Nothing gets fixed if she doesn’t say it’s broken. She says when, where, and how. This is her hood and she has the final word. The wrath of Mirka is mighty. You simply don’t want to be on her bad side. To disagree with her, will earn you cold coffee until she feels you have fully understood which side your bread is buttered.  #ladyboss #oldschool #shakedown

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The Capo di tutti Capi, The Don, The Godfather, Mirka. Don’t let the sweet smile fool you. Lady Boss rules with an iron fist.

Capo Mirka hates the new washing machine. Between you, me and the fly on the wall,  I am not sure this is one she can easily move on from. Her spirit of assertion concerning the new washer is alive and kicking. Anyone within a two mile radius has heard her voice her animosity. Fair warning: all should fear for their well being and find safety. Hostility, indignation and irritability are percolating.

We purchased a fancy, high tech, all the bells and whistles, top of the line LG Turbo Smart Washing Machine. (For all those living in Dominican Republic who asked, we went to Plaza Lama. Service was on point and price was fair.) I, naively, believed Mirka would be as excited as I was to go from our 2003 stackable washer and dryer to this modern, digital, work of art, stainless steel, SMART machine.

Someone throw me a lifeline because I could’t have been more wrong. I mean REALLLLLLLLLY wrong. She abhors the new machine and has formally requested we return it for a white machine that has an agitator down the middle of a plastic tub, a turn dial, ample water levels, abundant sudsy water, a regular timer with a straight forward and loud buzz, an agitator that works like a weed whacker, and zero requirement for special detergent. With repugnance and unabated anger, Mirka annouced the new machine is “una desgracia” (a disgrace).

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This is the desired Washing Machine, circa 1982.

Fail #1: She hates that the new washing machine takes 1 hour and 24 minutes to do one load. With the old machine, she could do 2.5 loads in that time. Due to this extended time period, she can only get one load folded during her novela and has been late to bible study, TWICE. The antagonistic machine is coming between her and Jesus, and that makes the sinister machine the devil himself.

Fail #2: Mirka takes issue with the fact that she needs to input the amount of water, type of load, water temperature, the rinse, and the amount of power to agitate on the digital key pad. She feels she is doing all the work. I pointed out that the key pad also has a “smart wash” button that figures all that for you, but her arguement is that when the”smart” machine is left to think on its own, its “brilliant” solution is a 3 hour cycle and she ain’t got time for that. The old machine did not give her all these options and all these alternatives are just complicating  affairs more. She just wants the delicates button with a 30 minute cycle. “Es mucho pedir?” (Is it too much to ask?)

Fail #3: The HE logo on the detergent bottles are just too small for her to see and therefore that is sufficient justification to return the malevolent, masochistic, inept, sedate machine. Moreover, what’s the point of having a washer that can only use special detergent? Wouldn’t a modern machine provide ample detergent selections? Why is it limiting  and restricting her detergent options? And whyyyyyyyyyyy can’t the logo be LARGE? The anemic HE detergent does not make suds. How is it removing the dirt off our clothes if it has no suds?????? I promised her that all the detergents and other products in the laundry room are safe to use. I inspected every bottle myself when I purchased them. The Capo’s innate, mistrusting, sketchy self just doesn’t allow her to take my word as gospel truth. She needs to check the bottle for the HE logo every single time she grabs detergent.

Fail #4: The machine doesn’t agitate enough to her liking nor does it use enough water.  I explained to her (atleast 5 times) it is because it is being more efficient and kinder to the fabrics and the environment. That didn’t fly. She isn’t buying it. Lady Boss says that’s a whole lot of bull. She also isn’t on board with the fact that the machine is an inverter and is using less electricity. Her argument? How can that even be remotely possible if it takes three times longer to wash? ( Tony Soprano has a point there.)

Final Fail: The machine’s timer mocks her with a peaceful, muffled, digital song praising the end of the cycle. She doesn’t want Mozart’s sonata to tell her to come back to the laundry room. She wants a clear and resounding BUZZ. The pressure of trying to make out the soft melody stresses her out and has her running in and out of the laundry room checking to see if the cycle is over. It goes without saying, it is not over. The cycle, as she so often reminds me, takes 90 minutes!

POST Final Fail: Now (as I write this post) the machine is self cleaning. She never asked it to do so. The timer reads 3 hours and 40 minutes. The manure has hit the fan. The Don is furious beyond belief. The door is locked and she can’t take the clothes out. She has given up. Cement shoes comes to mind.

I can’t return the machine. She hates the washer and me for buying it. Juan Carlos, the Consigliere, wants nothing to do with this beef. #hit the mattresses.

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The Cosa Nostra.

In the spirit of washing machines, let me share my favorite laundry tips.

  • Dryer Balls are the best! Shortens drying time and leaves the fluffiest towels ever. I feel 6 dryer balls is the magic number. You can substitute dryer balls with tennis balls or make aluminium foil balls (instructions here).
  • I am not a fan of fabric softener, although I know Mirka has a hidden stash of Suavitel and Downy and uses it every so often. Dryer sheets and dryer balls are much kinder on your fabrics. My favorite dryer sheets are Mrs. Meyers Geranium.
  • Hot water for whites, cold water for colors. NEVER STRAY FROM THIS RULE.
  • NEVER, NEVER, NEVER allow stained items in the dryer. It seals the stain.  And for the love of God, do not iron over it!
  • Print out a laundry decoder and a Stain Remover Cheat Sheet . Laminate and post in laundry room. By the way, Who came up with these stupid symbols?  Egyptian hieroglypics in the laundry room?

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  • Always wash and dry jeans inside out to keep color from fading. (I this extend rule to all bright colored clothes). I use Woolite Darks detergent and it has yet to fail me.
  •  Linen napkins, placemats, and tablecloths should sit overnight in ice water. This prevents stains from settling in and makes it easier to clean the following day. I like to air dry these, it makes ironing easier.
  • Always wash duvets and pillows with delicate detergent, like Woolite Gentle Cycle. Always dry with several dryer balls and on air fluff. You might have repeat the dryer cycle.
  • I swear by my own stain remover: 1 part Dawn dishwashing soap to two parts hydrogen peroxide. It has NEVER failed me. Pour concoction onto stain, lightly rub with soft bristle laundry brush or dab with a white felt towel. Let sit for a few hours. Launder as usual. This is also a hit on yellowing whites and men’s shirt collars and french cuffs. Alternatively, I turn to  Clorox Stain Fighter.
  • For my regular loads, it’s Tide all the way. I changed for a few months to a cheaper detergent and found my clothes fading and the fabric fibers weakening.
  • Marseille soap and Woolite are my go to for delicates. I wash all my swimsuits and spanx with baby shampoo in cold water. Lay flat to dry.
  • Never wring dry your delicates. Lay out  and roll up in a towel. (This method also works with your make up brushes and will dry in half the time.)
  • Keep a few fabric sheets in your drawers, in between your folded clothes. Keeps them smelling fresh! (Add fabric sheets to your packed suitcase in between clothes. When you arrive, your clothes smells freshly laundered! Also, place dryer sheets inside sweaters and winter clothing when storing during the off seasons.)

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup

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  •  1  butternut squash peeled and chopped (1-1.5lbs)
  • 2 whole garlics
  • 1 large leek (white parts only) finely chopped (more or less 1 cup)
  • 1 tbps of butter  (Dominican Republic: I like Rica con sal)
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 cup of reserved water butternut squash boiled in
  • finely chopped rosemary (1 tsp)
  • grated parmesan cheese (to liking)

Boil butternut Squash with garlic in salted water until soft.  Reserve one cup of the water butternut squash boiled in. Drain.

Sautee leeks in 1 tbsp of butter until soft and fragrant.

Combine butternut squash, garlic, cooked leeks, and 2 cups of broth in pot on medium heat. Stir until well combined. Use a handblender to cream. Add reserved water to thin out as needed. Salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped rosemary and  grated parmesan cheese.

POST NOTES:

If you do not have a handblender ( handblender), the blender will work fine.

This freezes great.

Chicken broth works just as well.

You can substitute rosemary with sage, white onions for leeks, pecorino for parmesan.

You can also sprinkle some crushed toasted pine nuts.

Jose Vega once suggested I add a little siracha.

*Optional: Make a large batch to freeze and keep the texture thick. This way you can also use as a sauce for zoodles, pasta or a lasagna. When you want soup, you heat the portion needed and add vegetable or chicken broth to thin out.

ENJOY!

Follow me on instagram @jessicathehousewife and twitter:@jthehousewife

 

 

 

 

Meatless Monday Coup D’Etat

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The Salad that brought down The Meatless Reign.
And just like that, the people revolted. I lost all control. I was dethroned and almost beheaded.

I implemented Meatless Monday at home. It didn’t happen overnight, it took 2 years of tedious slyness. With the patience of Job, I slowly transitioned the carnivores to omnivores to herbivores for one day a week. My husband loves a chunk of flesh, therefore I would reduce the portion of the meat until one day it was a butcher free plate.

Monday has been a seamless day of eating delicous meatless meals. Beautiful quinoa medleys, delicious butternut squash enchiladas, scrumptious chickpea currys adorned our table and replaced chicken, pork chops, and big fat T-bone steaks. It was glorious! I had my people eating healthy and there were no complaints from Juanki, Mirka, or Marco (our 6’5″, former marine, gentle giant driver). All hail the Queen of Meatless Monday!

I thought I would run with this lucky streak, and for the last few weeks I had extended it to meatless Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Like all tyrants, I thought no one was the wiser. I was going to push it to the limit. It was for the good of my people and one day they would realize that this imposed rule was because I love them. Besides, I had total control of the menu and the groceries. I was on top. Who would or could defy me? I had introduced living on greens and grains to the people of this home and no one was missing meat, chicken or pork. Or so I thought.

Like all rulers with absolute control, my demise was near. The people were not happy. I was reveling in the joy of their repose to my meatless week, while in reality they were disgruntled. I took my tyranny in the kitchen too far. Murmurs in the pantry were sounding. Hidden turkey sandwiches were being smuggled around. Secret missions to burger joints were taking place. Little did I know the rebels were plotting against me.

All it took was one salad. It was one salad too many. Last Monday, a beautiful compilation of Super Fresh Market’s gorgeous bounty was served for lunch. A mixture of boston lettuce and arugula joined by alfa sprouts, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, mushrooms, avocado, radish, a boiled egg, some low fat cottage cheese drizzled with a homemade cilantro-greek yogurt dressing was served.  Juan Carlos and I sat down for our usual 1:30pm lunch. I served him a healthy portion, then served myself. I placed my napkin on my lap, took a bite, when out of nowhere, I was blindsided. My husband’s ferocious, scary, loud and firm voice protested (yelled):  “NO MAS HIERBA” (no more grass). He pushed the plate away, threw his napkin on the table, stood up and stormed away.

Come again? What does he mean by no more grass? Is he boycotting my salad?

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The Revolt.
Juan Carlos forced his way into the kitchen, demanded Mirka make him a sandwich, a ham,salami, and cheese sandwich. Mirka did not know what to do. At this very moment, she had to decide should she go with the rebel forces or play it safe and stay with her tyrant. How quick the mighty fall. She jumped ship. She made him the meaty sandwich. Behind Juanki, was Marco, defying the embargo on poultry and offering his secret stash of chicken, rice, and beans (secretly purchased at the cafeteria nearby while I was at yoga). The conspiracy was now out in the open. The people have rebelled. Violence ensues. A frozen roast beef is pulled out of the freezer.  I have been toppled by a ham and salami sandwich. The resistence was pushing forward. Mirka served herself some of Marco’s chicken. I had been dethroned.

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Ham and Salami Sandwich, the rebellions weapon of choice.
I had to make nice with the rebels. I was ousted in one sitting. If I wanted, at the very least, to keep  Meatless Monday, I was going to have show them that we were now a democratic kitchen. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays were going to have to be for the people, by the people. I scoured my recipes. I devoured bonappetit.com, until it just appeared in my mailbox. An email from the heavens, Gina Homolka  from Skinnytaste. A beautiful balsamic chicken with roasted vegetables. ( Recipe Here ) This meal would be my peace offering. It would also be my way back into the hearts and good graces of the rebels.

The roast was a hit! They  were seeing a new era. They were eating meat on a Tuesday. As Wednesday rolled around, a churrasco ( Carne y Co) salad made its way to the table. Again, smiles and cheers! Thursday’s fare was pork chops ( Carne y Co ) and they roared! They had not seen the likes of a pork chop in ages. They were dazed and in bliss!

I had officially been ousted. The Meatless Era was over. There will be meat in this house. I tried my best, but I took it too far. For fear of martial law, I had to back down. Like all dictators before me, the day of reckoning is inevitable. I was not going to end up like Fernindad Marcos or Duvalier. I needed to find middle ground where I would be welcomed and not feared in the kitchen.

With Mirka working as a savy ally and mediator, a treaty was accorded. We have agreed on Meatless Monday. Juan Carlos will participate only on said day. Mirka will be meatless with me throughout the week, but remains open to fish and chicken. Marco will not enter this convention and will have meat everyday.

Little do the rebels realize that we are in time of Lent….no meat on Fridays for 40 days. Perhaps this is a good time to weed out meat on fridays, FOREVER. HMMMMM……

Here are some of my favorite go to recipes for Meatless Monday:

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Butternut Squash and Black bean Enchiladas

 

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Cauliflower and Chickpea Curry

If you have not tried Meatless Monday, I really do suggest you try. It’s not as complicated or as restrictive as you may think. My favorite sources are skinnytaste and meatlessmonday.

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

*I dedicate this post to my meat-loving, lamb chop obsessed friend, Monica Delgado, leader of the Meatless Coup. She adamantly believes that I am torturing my husband and that my meatless menus are a violation of The Geneva Convention.

 

 

 

 

 

I Cursed At Yoga

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Jessica, The Potty Mouth Housewife

 

That’s it people. I have sunk to an all time low. My namaste is depleted. I CURSED AT YOGA.

Who does that? A deplorable, foul-mouthed housewife that should be scarlet lettered and forbidden from ever going into warrior pose again, that’s who. Cursing while in yoga is equivilant to twerking in a purple lacy bra, matching polyester thong, and lucite platform heels during Monsignor O’Doherty’s Sunday homily.

Evidently, I said the four letter word, OUTLOUD during class. To my unjustifiable defense, I didn’t realize it. Hand to God. I was moving into a challenging pose and BLURTED out the “F” word. Loudly. Loud enough that my well mannered, sweet and beloved teacher, Lina, gently said “let’s keep the bad words to ourselves.” Yup. That’s right. It was THAT LOUD and THAT VILE that I had to be scolded by the kindest, coolest woman to walk the face of the earth. (Go ahead..scoff. I deserve it.)

I was somewhat confused. Surely, I couldn’t have said what I was thinking outloud. I mean, really, do I have any semblance of decorum left in me? Yes, I said the “F” word in my head, but did I say it with my mouth? Is the disconnect between my brain and my lips that extensive? 

So when our flow reached downward dog, I asked Maria Jose if I had cursed. Maria Jose: Click Here  (Sorry! Check out #7) WHYYYYYY???????? Why did I even bother to ask. Of course I did and of course it was a vociferous “F” bomb.

Apparently, catholic guilt, Cuban daughter guilt, and Dominican wife guilt is no longer enough. I can now add YOGA GUILT to my portfolio.

Yoga guilt is a different kind of wholesome self-condemnation. I feel guilt for having road rage on the way to class. Double up that guilt for listening to Rihanna while having road rage on the way to class. I have deep self-reproach for thinking about my grocery list as I do my sun salutations. Overwhelming shame consumes me as I lay in shavasana and scroll through my closet wondering what I am going to wear to lunch with my girlfriends. Being distracted by a chain of thoughts triggered by the horrific smell my lululemon mat emits while breathing fills me with grave remorse. And the worst of all…skipping class to watch Real Housewives. What kind of scumbag does that?

Unlike catholic/Cuban daughter/Dominican wife guilt, there is no confessional in yoga. Zero redemption. No place to go for absolution. It’s a done deal, case closed. I will carry the-lady-who-dropped-the-“F”-bomb-in-yoga stigma for the rest of my life. My chakras will never align and I will, most definitely, burn in some Bikram hell. (I am 40% sure that’s a thing or maybe I made it up. Either way, it’s a problem.) I am fairly certain there is a Guru in India requesting my immediate excommunication from ALL yoga classes EVERYWHERE ON PLANET EARTH, reaffirming his concern for my unabashed need to exploit and disgrace the practice and its discipline of mental and spiritual peace.

From the bottom of my heart, I profoundly apologize to the amazing Lina and my classmates in Saturday’s class. Yes, I said the “F” word. Mea Culpa, fellow yogis.

And although I am truly ridden with remorse and sheer embarrassment, I am pretty sure the possibility of another unintentional expletive in class is strong.  So, if you place your mat next to mine, be forewarned that I am filled with runaway swear words. Namaste at your own f’ing risk! (insert wink!)

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Please follow me on instagram @Jessicathehousewife and on Twitter @Jthehousewife

 

 

 

 

Manic Monday: My Mother’s Way.

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My very honest (because she loves me), never hold back (because if she doesn’t tell me who will), tell it like it is (because my generation needs to be desensitized and tough love makes you stronger) mother told me that my Manic Monday posts are boring. Apparently, it was so boring she couldn’t bear reading the whole post. So we are going to keep it short and sweet to avoid a snooze fest.

 

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My mom’s signature “let me tell you something” look.  When you get this look, you know it is going to be brutal.

A paramount part of Monday’s deep cleaning is laundry, specifically bedding. All bed sheets, pillow cases, blankets and duvet covers are changed and washed. The first Monday of every month, pillows, comforters, and duvets are washed and dried accordingly.

The End.

Are you awake? Still with me? Hello? Anyone there? 

On another note, Monday greeted me with a dead washing machine. Laundry will have to be put on hold, while I spend US$1,000,000,000 on a new one. An epic hissy fit is inevitable because the new washer will not be delivered for 3 days. As sure as night follows day, a meltdown will go down when, on day 5, they finally do arrive, but the cargo elevator is out of service. Top that off with a brute meeting of the minds with the deliveryman because he delivers, NOT installs said machine, but will install for a fee that feels like extortion. Icing on the cake? Mirka’s snarky, snide incessant reminder, every hour on the hour, that I am out of clean yoga clothes, towels, and underwear because we do not have a washing machine. Good times ahead!

Monday, I just hate you.

If you have any questions about how I handle laundry, please comment below. I would be more than happy to share my “boring” laundry details (I swear by Tide, Marseille soap for pillows and duvets, lavander spray on all linens before and after the dryer, baby shampoo on swimsuits, one part Dawn dishsoap to two parts hydrogen peroxide on all stains…it’s magic! #laundrymaster). Follow me on instagram: @jessicathehousewife and on Twitter: @Jthehousewife