"The Empty Nester"
"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away." -- Maya Angelou
Hi, I'm Helayne and I'm the "empty nester" here at Mr. Food, doing lots of cooking for two, even though I love entertaining for a crowd. I'm a native New Yorker and joined the team back in 1996. Today I have lots on my plate as a producer and Senior Writer for TV production, as well as a contributing writer for our publishing and website divisions. I have a great passion for travel; with some favorite spots being in Europe and along the California coast. Most important to me is my family. My husband, who I met back in college, my daughter and her husband who have blessed us with an adorable baby grandson, and our four-legged mischief-maker- our dog! I look forward to sharing my behind the scenes stories with you, and always appreciate your feedback, as many times your suggestions wind up on the air, so keep them coming.
Favorite Mr. Food recipe: Half Moon Cookies - these are my husband's all-time favorites and he polishes them off very fast!
How often do I cook: Almost every day
Who am I cooking for? My husband daily, and friends and family for holidays and special occasions.
How long have I been cooking? From the time I was old enough to help my Mom in the kitchen. She and my grandmother taught me all I know about cooking and it's their recipes that keep our family history alive.
My biggest challenge in the kitchen: Never enough space. My dream is to have a huge country kitchen.
What profession best describes me in the kitchen? Clean up crew. I am a neat freak, and I don't like a lot on my counters. I clean up as I cook, can't stand a messy kitchen.
The kitchen appliance I couldn't live without: There's actually quite a few, but the one I use every day is my convection counter top oven. It avoids heating up the big oven and whole kitchen when cooking for two, and when I'm entertaining it comes in handy as a second oven.
My ultimate meal: The lasagna recipe my sister-in-law gave me when I was a newlywed. It's a lot of work, a lot of ingredients, but nothing compares to it. I love making it for company and it freezes well in portions, so it's great for stretching into multiple meals for just the two of us. If I really want to show off for company, I'd make an edible bowl out of melted parmesan cheese, fill it with a mixed green salad, top it with berries, walnuts, and drizzle on some balsamic vinaigrette. That salad blows everyone away!
The one food I can't stand: Milk. Won't drink it...don't really want to cook with it...but I do if I must.
The food that instantly takes me back to childhood is: Oreos ...as-is...no dipping in a glass of milk. Yuck.
If I were a spice, I would be: Hmm...that's a tough one...but I guess, Oregano...because I love Italian food.
My favorite food that grows from the earth is any variety of potatoes. At least once a week I wind up roasting potatoes that I've simply tossed with olive oil, sea salt and black pepper - and I change up the varieties, and it's the easiest thing to make even last minute.
If I could have dinner with anyone in the world, dead or alive, it would be: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, because she put her family first, never lost site of pursuing her career and always carried herself with dignity. I think that choice fits my favorite quote perfectly because had I had such an opportunity to dine with her, I am sure it would have been one of the most memorable meals of my life.
Sweet tooth, or salt-craver? What's my weakness? Sweet tooth... But it has to be really worth it. A hot fudge sundae or chocolate mousse. Something sinful enough to indulge because wasted calories are not necessary.