mini minty s’mores milkshakes

I’m not even going to pretend I have a long love affair with s’mores. It wasn’t until last summer that I even developed a taste for them, as Gina can attest. In fact, before she introduced me to swapping white chocolate for milk or dark, and adding fresh raspberries, I often passed on this summertime ritual. My daughters on the hand are the complete opposite. They would gladly eat them for breakfast if I let them, and really it would be any worse, calorically speaking, than my current pie for breakfast habit. Continue reading »

strawberry blood orange jam

My time in Brooklyn is down to single digit days. I seem to be walking in an alternate universe. Everything seems familiar, yet foreign. It’s in these moments that I feel greater confidence in the change we’re about to make. The conveniences of the city no longer outweigh the cravings of my mind and heart. Continue reading »

roasted strawberry-basil frozen yogurt

The girls are rather good at keeping tally over everything being even-Steven. Inevitably, the scales tip more in one’s favor on certain days, although I’m quite sure it will balance out to an equitable share over the longevity of our lives. Try explaining that to a six or eleven year old, though.

Most days, I’m pretty sure I’m messing everything up. I wasn’t always sure of what I was doing when we were a two-parent family. Now, on my own, left in charge of raising these girls into strong, confident, happy, loving young women—I think it’ll be okay, but sometimes I wonder. These last few weeks have left me sleep-deprived, anxious and short on patience as I watch moving boxes pile up, and ponder the change about to happen in less than three weeks. Continue reading »

eating our way through philly

I gasped at my first glance of the Philadelphia skyline. Dare I say it’s more beautiful than my native New York City one? The next 18 hours proved to be just as incredible a discovery. It seems unthinkable to me that it took this long to uncover its not-so-hidden treasures.

My first, and only other visit, to the city took place in January of 1998. Back then I was only passing through, arriving in town on a Peter Pan bus from Port Authority in NYC. I was on my way to see my father for the first time in five years. So much has happened in the 16 years since then.

I lost a father.

I lost a husband.

But I didn’t lose my resolve to live each day to its fullest, no matter how hard that sometimes seems. And so, the girls and I took a mini road trip. Frankly, 18 hours doesn’t do Philadelphia justice, but it did us Perillo Girls a world of good for reasons I wrote about here. Alas, it’s all we could spare this trip, but we shall be back. Hopefully, very soon. Here’s a few highlights of the calories we consumed along the way.

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orange poppy olive oil muffins

Years ago, when Isabella was a wee little one, we had a neighbor who insisted on counting her son’s age in months up until he was three. Mikey and I laughed so hard at the idea of that. Imagine someone asking how old your kid is, and replying 32 months. It just sounds odd, right? I’m guessing that mom’s rationale was wanting to hold onto her son being a baby as long as possible. I get it. Oh man, do I get it, especially these days. In just two weeks, my babies will turn five and ten. I feel like I blinked and life tapped me on the shoulder, then screamed SURPRISE!

This whole way of counting has been weighing on my mind a lot lately. People often refer to Mikey having died a year and a half ago, or almost two years ago. Me? I refer to it as what it is—20 months ago. Unlike my old neighbor who wanted to cherish her babies early years, I’m trying to stay close to Mikey. The more time that passes since his death signifies the growing distance between my old life and my new one. Continue reading »

broccoli rabe & fresh ricotta frittata {Homemade with Love}

To the rest of the world, this simply looks like a bunch of celery. Albeit an incredibly gorgeous, delicate bundle, with a flavor only celery from the farmers’ market could possibly capture. That bunch in particular probably came from Maxwell’s Farmstand at the Grand Army Plaza farmers’ market.

I feel the lump welling up in my throat as I write this, and yet I can’t pull my fingers away from the keyboard. I feel crazy even going “there”, but that celery is the last bunch of celery I bought while Michael was alive. It’s celery for heaven’s sake, and it’s capable of reducing me to tears. At moments like this I want to bury my face into a pillow and collapse into a pool of tears. I bought that celery the day before Mikey died. I came across it while looking through my photo archives for a recipe of the Broccoli Rabe & Fresh Ricotta Frittata from Homemade with Love, and suddenly found myself frozen as I inched closer to the photos I took in the days leading up to his death.

It’s not just a bunch of celery, just like these aren’t just a box of matches.

It’s a bunch of celery on the windowsill of our old apartment…in the kids’ old room, which was actually our bedroom before we even had kids.

That celery represents something I can never have again. That celery represents a routine I so loved, and have struggled to get back into the last 20 months. See, before Mikey died, I woke up every Saturday morning at 7:00am, got dressed quietly and snuck out of the house to go to the farmers’ market at Grand Army Plaza. I would beat the crowds, and get the best of whatever was in season before most people had rubbed the sleep from their eyes. Continue reading »

the homestretch

My eyelids are refusing to cooperate this morning, as I find myself fighting to keep them open. Changing the clocks ahead one little hour this weekend is proving to be more challenging than the six hour time difference I so often encounter when I go to France. I figure you’re all feeling sort of sluggish and sleepy today too, and what better way to jolt you than with some fun news surrounding the release of Homemade with Love. If you’ve preordered the book, then you likely got the same email I did on Sunday—it’s shipping earlier than expected. As in you may have it as soon as the weekend depending on the shipping method you chose!

The love, security and sense of self I derive from being in the kitchen are feelings I hope to spark in all of you once Homemade with Love becomes a part of your lives. My reason for wanting to write a cookbook four years ago was simple. It wasn’t about vanity or dreams of fame. I wanted all of my positive experiences in the kitchen to become contagious. I wanted to show people in a very genuine way that cooking is about so much more than just eating. It is about feeding your soul, and enriching the lives of the people you love. Continue reading »

french toast waffles

All I seem to be doing today is counting the hours until I can retire to my jammies, and curl up on the couch for pizza and a movie with the kids. I had hoped to share some details about a project I’m working on with Kidzvuz. Rebecca, one of the founders, is a long-lost sister of sorts, and I’m really excited to collaborate with her and Nancy finally. I will be back with the goods on it all next week. Continue reading »

spring fever

The calendar rolling to March 1st feels so powerful. It means we’ve weathered another winter. The tulip leaves creeping up through the soil signal spring is on its way. Hope seems to replenish the nearly empty well deep within in my heart.

Days get longer, and the air gets warmer. Of course, just when it feels safe to to cloak myself in a lighter coat, Mother Nature reminds me who is really in control. Still, March brings the power of a Phoenix rising from the ashes buried beneath a heavy snowfall. This particular March also brings a lot of good news. The book—my cookbook, comes out in 24 days. Soon it will no longer be just mine. It will belong to all of you who let it grace your home. Continue reading »

chocolate malted waffles

Every time I think I’ve moved a few steps forward, life sends me a reality check. My mind has been restless, probably because of the million things on my To Do list. I’m sure the key lies in surrendering to the chaos a little, and not worrying so much about the future. It’s hard when you’re a perfectionist to accept that the world itself is an imperfect place. Just writing ever so briefly about the clutter in my head helps me feel a little less encumbered by it all.

There’s good news for all the busyness, though. I mentioned last time that I was writing for Relish Magazine again. Shifting my focus a little in my writing, not having every word flecked with memories of Michael, is important. It’s good to get out of my own head, and necessary if I’m going to really sustain and nurture a life without him. Of course, he’s always in my writing, even if I don’t mention him with a specific reference. As I was developing my recent recipe for Relish—chocolate malted waffles, all I could imagine was his reaction to waking up to them on Valentine’s Day. He had this way of closing his eyes when he took the first bite of a new recipe, and a wave of calm delight would wash over his face when it was a winner. Continue reading »