Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Dining made easy! Introducing Blue Apron!

Do you like cooking?  Are you a foodie who likes trying new and interesting cuisines?  Are you dieting, or trying to eat more healthy whole foods?  Do you like supporting local Farmers and their fresh products?  Are you too busy to find time to grocery shop for dinner every night?  Then this might be for you!

My husband sometimes cooks for me.  Some are better than others- and usually there is no rhyme or reason (or memory of what ingredients he added) to come up with some magical concoction.  Spinach chili was a huge success, KD (if you're or Canadian) or Mac and Cheese (in the States) is a staple of his expertise.  He makes a mean Belgian Waffle (via mix of course) and occasionally just opens a can of crushed tomatos and pours it directly on top of frozen pizza.  There was of course the time he blended tuna, but I choose to omit that experience from my memory.  They are not all winners- but he tries, and I appreciate that.

I of course grew up with a Sicilian and Polish Mother and Egg Plant Parm, Stuffed Mushrooms, and Lasagna were second nature to me.  I have not yet perfected my grandmother's Stuffed Cabbage (the BEST) but I am working on it.  However, I have learned about baking from my mother in law- she is amazing in the kitchen and can make miracles happen with a left over Turkey! (Soup, Pizza, a Pot Pie! who knew?).

I love to take cooking classes, and I am all about whole foods and presentation- but lack of time (a career at Cisco, and part time teaching Zumba, being a mom and step mom, wife, and fur mom to 3 - not to mention cleaning and cooking,  my recent photography class, being Vice Chair for CompTIA's Advanicng Women in IT, volunteer work for my community church, and the occasional insomniacs sleep means there is simply not enough hours in the day.

So a few weeks ago my husband (and our) friend and fellow co-founder of ChannelEyes, Dave gifted upon us some meal time delicacies.  Well, that was sweet I thought- as a full time working mom, who loves to cook but never finds time to grocery shop, let alone open her recipe books- this could serve to be an interesting experiment in dining made easy.

The company is called "Blue Apron"- site motto proudly stating:

 "Fresh ingredients, great recipes 

delivered weekly to your home"  Cook Incredible Recipes

Learn exciting new recipes each week, created with care by our test kitchen team

Eat Fresher Food
Our experts source the best seasonal ingredients directly from farms, importers and family-run purveyors

Well, that sounds promising Jay and I thought- Flexible, Fresh, Convenient and Original- who doesn't love that?

Then the day came which changed our lives (only half kidding!).  Our fresh food ingredients arrived at last!

Each meal comes with a menu card, all of your pre-portioned fresh ingredients and all the "knick knacks" in portions of 2 or 4 (2 seems to serve my husband, step daughter and I  quite nicely- as Brooklyn fine dines on fancy baby food ala butter nut squash and quinoa, and the Oreo's my husband sneaks in- but that is for a different blog).

2 Person Meal

4 Person Meal

The pricing is fairly reasonable as well:

We take turns preparing, on average each meal takes about an hour from prep to plate.

Thus far we have had over 20 amazing and interesting meals (some with products I have never had like a sun chokes, or international cuisine made easy such as Mousaka!)

We have really enjoyed our fancy home made meals, and look forward each week to the new wholesome entrees and taste sensations.  I will be updating this blog with some of our complete list of meals thus far as well as our finished deliacies for your viewing pleasure... it will really make you wish you had smell-a-vision.

My tiniest Chef Helper

Our meals thus far have included the following  (in no particular order):

  1. Gnocchi with Sausage & Savoy Cabbage
  2.  Chicken & Chestnut Pasta w/ Cabbage and Granulated Honey
  3. Macadamia-Crusted Cod with Black Rice, Golden Beet and Avocado Salad
  4. Braised Moroccan-Style Salmon & Greens w/ lemon Pine Nuts & Red Quinoa
  5. Basted Flanlk Steaks with Beet-Freekeh Salad & Gorgonzola (a personal fav!)
  6. Orecchiette Pasta w/ Roasted Cauliflower, Capers & Garlic Bread Crumbs
  7. Maple Glazed Turkey Breast w/ Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, & Maitake Mushrooms
  8. Chicken Schnitzel with Watercress, Apple, Beet & Red Walnut Salad (Yum!)
  9. Beef on Weck Salad with Heirloom Potato Salad
  10. Seared Hake with Melted Leeks and Fingerling Potatoes
  11. Croque Monsier-Style Sandwiches with Bacon, Radish & Little Gem Lettuce Salad (mmmmm)
  12. Yuzu Kosho Glazed Drumsticsk with Shitake Mushrooms, Turnip & Rice Salad (AMAZING!)
  13. Thai Chicken Meatballs with Red Coconut Curry, Bok Choy & Rice Noodles
  14. Flank Steaks & Creamed Kale with Sunchokes 2 ways
  15. Crispy Salmon & Barley- Fennel Risotto w/ Fresh Herb and Walnut Salad
  16. Moussaka-Style Lasagna with Eggplant and Spinach
  17. Pan Roasted Chicken with Saba-Grape Sauce, Roasted Fennel & Sunchokes
  18. Crispy Fish Sandwhiches withe Coleslaw and Homemade Tarter Sauce
  19. Pan Seared Salmon with Candied Orange Peel & Cranberry Walnut Stuffing
  20. Lamb & Butternut Squash Soup with Spinach and Barley 

A far cry from blended tuna, eh?  I like to consider myself a tad of a foodie- but going out to eat can be expensive (unless you are Grouponing- blog to follow) and/or dieting whereby you have to question what goes into your food.  Here you are getting farm fresh ingredients, interesting variety, a taste sensation, a health meals, and culinary lessons and recipes you can move in future meals! A win win all around.  

A Sample of the Recipe Card and Instructions
Check out http://www.blueapron.com/ to get started being the chef you always dreamed you can be.  I for one think it's brilliant, easy and delicious.

Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Home is where the Heart is...

So my husband inspired me tonight by posting compiling a blog of home he ever lived in here. At first, I was skeptical when he told me the idea- but when he explained why, I could not agree more! I am such a profound lover of photography and life stories categorized so that your story lives on, and can be past down from generation to generation.

So tonight, I too will share my story for the world, and for my daughter Brooklyn Marie McBain! This is the story of your mom, and where she lived growing up...

I was born in Long Island Jewish Hospital in NY on May 7, 1982, the day before Mother's Day. I moved into my first home in Queens 91-33 87th Street:

A quick snapshot of me and my mom, in the beginning:

My mom, MaryAnne and I moved out when I was 8 months old to my apartment home for the next 13 years, 263 Kingsland Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, 11222 (the gray building two left from the glass--this is a recent picture and I am in awe of the new glass building! Brookln is the "new place to be in NYC" so a LOT has changed from when I grew up :)):

This is what I looked like back then. It was what we called in NYC Rail Road Rooms-you walked down the first floor, and we were on the first floor, right hand side. You walked into a kitchen (bathroom in there, with a claw foot bath tub), living room and two bedrooms. It was small and sweet, but it was home. My grandmother lived on the top floor of the building next door,
my auntie lived with her, Aunt Chrissy lived across the street, and Uncle Joe lived with us till they all started moving to Queens and we soon followed. We could see Manhattan and the Empire and State Building from our window at night, and we had a "fire escape" balcony which I would steal our tuna and milk (sorry mom!) to feed our stray cats since we were not allowed to have pets, or use the yard. #MeanestLandLadyEver. Luckily, we had my school PS 110, and a park around the corner, which I went to every day after school. I also frequented my great aunt's home in Long Island every weekend, rode tire swings, swam in pools, climbed trees, and wished in the fountain for three things 1) My very own Home, 2) Pets - and lots of them 3) Husband to travel the world with and a happy family (Check Check and Check- thanks for making my dreams come true Jay).

I lived there until 7th grade, where I moved back to the very same street I was born on, just two houses over. This is what I looked like in my 6th grade graduation. Although I moved to Queens, I still went to school in Brooklyn JHS at St Cecilia's School, which is sadly now closed. I went on to attend Martin Luther HS in Queens- but that is all for a school blog to follow ;). My uncle Joe went on to buy the house I was born in, and we moved next door when a home became available. Back then, Queens was a step up from Brooklyn- that's all very different now!

Once again, like any good Italian/Polish Family we all lived in the same house, or far away, aka within a 2 block radius or 5 minute drive from each other in disparate Queens Neigborhoods. So my aunt Lorraine and Uncle Gene moved in the first floor, Mom and I lived atop of them, and my grandmother in a finished basement. Uncle Joe lived 2 houses over, aunt Lorraine and Uncle Gene moved out - around the corner, and grandma moved up. Uncle Sam and Jake and uncle Eddie lived 5 minutes away in Middle Village, Aunt Chris lived in Maspeth- and she was first to really LEAVE when she moved to North Carolina. We had no air conditioning, and like any good Italian American we had plastic on all our furniture, and all I remember is STICKING to the sofa as I tried to get up for a glass of "Wata".

My house was the second from left, I planted a Lilac Tree and Dug a Koi Pond- My first front (or back) yard- so exciting!
Although it was a "two family house" it was basically a fancier apartment which we owned- but that meant all the difference in the world.  It  meant we could use the yards- front AND back, and get an adorable 4 inch round pool- ahhh paradise! Goodbye City Park Sprinklers, and Fire Hydrants!

Please note the Plastic :)
We also spent a ton of time on "the stoop" entertaining ourselves and chatting with neighbors. Games ranged from Jax, Pick up Sticks, Hide and Seek, Freeze Tag, Hand Ball, Stick Ball, Jump Rope, Hop Scotch, and running like mad till the street lights came on and it was dinner time.

As you can see, I was always shy...NOT.

When it was time to move, I ventured to my next borough- the Bronx, where I attended Manhattan College (named for it's original location in Manhattan, but a bit bait and switch for those who moved from Hawaii like my best friend Jamie based only on the pamphlet which showed Times Square and the Empire State Building- haha. Although it was only a half hour drive away, it was close to a 2 hour train ride: We were the last stop on the Train in Van Cortland Park, passed through the Bronx, through all of Manhattan, through all of Brooklyn, and finally Queens where I lived only a few stops from Rockaway Beach.  A journey home is always worth it, no matter the distance!

While at MC I lived in Jasper Hall- Freshman Year, Overlook Manor off Campus -Sophomore Year, back to Jasper Hall for Junior Year, and then on to Horan Hall for my Senior Year.

College memories, I am 2nd from right hand side- Jamie my bestie and our token Hawaiian is to my left!

Upon graduation, I moved home briefly before I worked on Wall Street training to be a Stock Broker in Manhattan, had a call of conscious and quit. I fortunately discovered what I wanted t`o be when I grew up, and found my career at Cisco. This required me to move from NY to NC.

I moved to 517 Arringdon Drive, Colonial Grand Apartments, and into a new universe. Resort style pool, exercise center, complimentary cappucinos and luxary apartments all for $500 a month rent. Had I died and gone to heaven?

It was not too long before I bought my first Home Sweet Home, customizing every detail from roof to floor at 610 Conover Road in Durham, NC, and met some of the best neighbors and friends I have ever been blessed to have,

This is also where I began gardening- mostly because my dog Mirage (a Hurricane Katrina Rescue with an impending desire to be free) would dig wholes and escape, and I perfected garden walls to keep her in. Though she always found a way out- one time she broke a screen, shimmied down a drain pipe and rang the door bell when she returned home.

Luka (aka the good one) never left my side- or the bath tub as it was one of the cooler spots after moving from NY to NC!

Next I moved closer to my mom to help take care of my grandmother who was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis. What I down sided in size, I upgraded in amenities - three pools, a fitness center (where I first began teaching Zumba) a slide, basketball courts, gym, soccer field, pool tables, and much more!
Mirage also escaped this Yard
Our "Community"
My beloved grandma passed away the day I left for South Africa and the month before I met my now Husband. Yet, somehow, this never really felt like home- I never hung a nail or painted a wall until...

ironically my first date with Jay. We met on October 15, stayed up till 6 am talking and our lives were never the same again. He Fixed my Broken Heart --We had a whirl wind romance, traveled to 40+ countries and he convinced me to leave my comforts of North Carolina which I called home for close to 9 years to move back to the icy white tundra which I call NY!

Daddy proposed to me on his Birthday June 24, while taking a leap of love and faith before we sky dived out of a perfectly good airplane.

We got married on Fourth of July in Westchester NY...

Your Sisters Mila, and Danica and Godfather- my Cousin Jake are in the top left Brooky Bear- next to our uncle Joey 
And this is where we went on to join our family- Danica, Mila, Luka, Mirage, Austin Danger Powers (Danger is his middle Name) and of course our littlest addition Brooklyn Marie McBain, born April 1, 2014 April Fool's Day! My first letter to my little girl was written here, and although I try to capture every moment of our and your precious journey, time seems to be going too quickly. I try to treasure and cherish every second and when I have time I will document our journey- so you will know all about "mommy and daddy" the greatest love the world has ever known (at least in my universe), and that which formed the most beautiful, smiley, and wonderous baby ever... YOU- SCHMOO!

I never thought I would be living in NY again, and I have no idea what the future holds- only time will tell. I look forward to making your first snowman and snow angels with you, sledding down hills with Daddy, and learning how to ice skate and ski- I am sure you will teach me :).  Someday, I hope to move somewhere WARM again, but we shall see.  As our lives change I will be sure to amend our journey along the way!

No matter if it is 10,000 square foot castle, or four simple walls - I will be home as long as I am with my family who I love!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Dream IT, My Life as a Robot: Advancing Women in IT!

As many of you know, I adore CompTIA's Advancing Women In I.T., what we stand for "The Advancing Women in IT Community is dedicated to empowering women with the knowledge and skills necessary to help their pursuit of successful IT careers, as well as to inspire women to enter the IT field as a career choice. The community is a vital information resource, provides mentorship and networking opportunities, develops member-driven initiatives and programs, is active in legislation involving women and careers, and is actively involved in pursuing the overall objectives of the CompTIA – ECAP (education, certification, advocacy and philanthropy). Members of this group are women who are currently in or aspire to be in IT careers and men who support this mission."; as well as the people who make up our group!

This year I was named "Vice-Chair" and was ecstatic to attend my fourth annual Annual Member Meeting.  Unfortunately, I was due to give birth the day before.  I planned ahead of time with former chairman Bob Godgart, CEO Todd Thibbodeaux and the the AWIT Community Leader Cathy J. Alper, Chair Dori Allyn, and head of Committees Jim Hamilton to utilize a proxy via virtual robot  ( a virtual two way robot which I can control, talk and move around the room remotely!).

I ended up giving birth the day before the conference on April 1, 2014 to Brooklyn Marie McBain, but Jay McBain and I were still able to attend the Conference the following day thanks to our proxy robot the following day (look for Jay and I in the first row on the robots "IPAD face").  In fact, it was baby Brooklyn's first live technology conference as well- a great start for our little lady to know anything she does it possible if you Dream IT.

Live from our Nursery at the Hospital:

A close up of our Baby Brooklyn below...

I am proud that I work for a company like Cisco which has the flexibility and empowerment to support new moms (and dads), and am Vice-Chair of a group like CompTIA's AWIT who truly does support and empower women (and men), for and through technology!  Way to practice what we preach.  #ProudtobeinTech
(Cathy asking me via robot if I am ready to do my part of the agenda, "Keys to Success")

The Inspirational Quotes, and Words of our members who attended the meeting,  can be found weekly on our AWIT FB Page, and Twitter Account:

Thank you Sandy Ashworth, Nancy Hammervik, Susan Krautbauer for being pioneers to form this vital community which benefits so many!  Thanks also to the amazing ladies I am privelaged to have and continue to serve with:  Nellie C. Scott, Cristina Martin Greysman, Mary Ellen Grom, Doriana Allyn, Hillary Gadda, Jean Mork Bredeson, John Mehrman, Lindsay Rufa Hall, Lori Berry,  Robin Haggerty, Stacey Powell, and Theresa Caragol!  Some of our crew "meditating" before the conference seen below :)

To learn more about AWIT- like our Facebook Page , follow us on Twitter @CompTIA_AWIT , Check out our CompTIA membership Page: ,  join our LinkedIn group, and/or check out our YouTube video today!

If you have a non profit group you would like us to consider for Donation, or Public Speaking on who we are and what we do, please reach out to us via Social platforms above.

Chicago Tech Institutes Program for Young Women in IT