Monthly Archives: August 2015

The Easy, Breezy Summer Dinner Party

Steaks on the grillLobster platter

I love love love to throw a party. My friends call me Martha Stewart—sans the jail time. And sorry, but no one BBQ’s like me!

Unfortunately, cooking at home has mostly been replaced by dining out as a means of entertaining. But there is nothing more gracious than entertaining at home. And hospitality isn’t about your house, furniture or even the food. It’s about the heart.

Make it easy on yourself by setting your table a few days before. Just remember that careful planning ahead of time will make for the most successful night.

The following party tips and menu suggestions will provide ideas for a spectacular party guaranteed to impress your guests gourmet style.

I will also share some clever ideas to keep your guests happy and occupied, and keep yourself stress-free from start to finish.

There are three secrets to a great indoor or outdoor summer dinner party.

The first is the grill.

The second is the grill.

The third? Yep. It’s all about the grill.

Okay, maybe there are a few more secrets to a successful soiree. But the grill is center stage.

The most important part of planning is making sure that you are ready when your guests arrive. Prepare your food ahead of time, and keep your food choices as simple as possible. Expect a few guests to show up early, so make sure your sink is empty of dirty dishes, and you’re enjoying your first glass of wine.

And use some of your creative juices to come up with a memorable tablescape that speaks volumes about your personal taste and fun loving personality.

Decorating your table doesn’t have to break your budget. Simply rummage through your house for ideas and ways to use what you already have to make stunning settings.

To make the easy, delicious menu in this blog, all you really need are those “three” secrets―and, of course, a little prep work. (But only a little, I promise.) So gather your friends and family, follow my tips and tricks, and party hard!

Weather permitting, I usually set up inside and outside. But if the weather doesn’t cooperate, I make my indoor tablescape as outdoorsy as possible.

I set up a wow-factor table with a mixture of lots of colors and various plate patterns. Rainbow colored paper napkins complete a party picnic atmosphere.

Go through all your platters and bowls and pick your most colorful. Add some grill pans, cast iron fry pans, and any other bowls and serving trays you can find to create a memorable and funky tablescape.

Mix and match table setting

Have some fun with it! I like to mismatch glassware to add even more color and creativity. And don’t forget the flowers. You don’t have to spend a fortune, but choose some bright and cheery flowers in all sizes and place them in any old vibrantly colored containers. You can also take stemmed glassware and place them upside down over flower buds and then set candles or battery operated tea lights on top for a unique and beautiful floral arrangement.


If you want to keep your party super casual, you can serve wine in regular drinking glasses. Set up the bar using brightly colored trays or plastic dishes to add color and flair to your cocktail set up. Good wine, top shelf Vodka, a martini shaker, and an extensive beer selection should be all you need for a simple bar set up. You can also whip up a pitcher of sangria or other signature drink. Add water and a variety of sodas and fruit drinks for the non-drinkers and designated drivers, and you should be set.

I usually set up an inflatable drink center. This allows bar access from all sides, prevents traffic jams, and looks impressive. Chill white wine two hours in advance, and make sure to put out extra ice, glassware, a bottle opener, corkscrew, and appropriate garnishes.


And if you’re the creative type, you can make your own drink charms to identify drinkers with their drinks.

Turn holiday lights into summer sparklers and adorn your porch posts, railings and tree trunks.

And don’t forget your favorite tunes! Nothing like a little music to get the party started.

Make sure to have plenty of appetizers set up in the kitchen. This way, when your guests want to chat it up while you’re preparing dinner, there are plenty of good eats available.

My go-to summer dinner menu is to grill up some boneless shell and/or rib eye steaks, some lobster tails, and fresh corn on the cob.

Lobster dinnerRib Eye Searinggrilled corn

My final menu touch is a beautiful salad. I usually go with a wedge salad with loads of halved cherry tomatoes, adorned with bleu cheese and bacon. I mean really, who doesn’t like bacon?


My second go to salad is romaine lettuce, olives, onions, sweet cherry peppers and cherry tomatoes set up like a flower garden. If you’re on the fence about which salad to go with and have a lot of plant-eaters, prepare both!

Romaine Flower Salad Cropped

And don’t forget some fresh bread.

If I have some extra time the night before my party, although not needed at all, I whip up my fave and easy-to-prepare boneless buffalo chicken (see all recipes below). I fry them and then finish them up in the oven the next day right before I begin my grilling.

And for the non-meat eaters, I usually offer a small sampling of cold poached salmon, and an assortment of veggie appetizers ordered from my local Middle Eastern restaurant.

For dessert, there is nothing like a fresh pie from a local farm with three or four containers of Haagen-Dazs ice cream flavors on the side. And okay, if you must, some fruit.

End the evening with a good strong pot of coffee.


Steak on the Barbie
Note: Cooking time is based on an 8-10 ounce steak

Boneless Rib Eye and Shell Steaks (one 8-10 ounce steak per person)
Kosher salt (Kosher salt is less soluble and less dense than table salt and breaks down proteins and releases natural juices.)
Cracked Pepper

Season room temperature steaks with salt and cracked pepper before grilling. Arrange steaks on high heat on the grill and cook 4 minutes on the first side, rotating it 60 to 90 degrees midway through if you want to produce restaurant-style grill marks. The steaks are ready to turn when you begin to see moisture on the upper side of the steak. Turn the steaks over and continue to grill 2 to 3 minutes for medium-rare (an internal temperature of 135 degrees F), again rotating steaks 60 to 90 degrees midway through. For medium, grill steaks for 5 to 7 minutes (140 degrees F), for medium-well, grill the steaks for 8 to 10 minutes (150 degrees F). Do NOT overcook your steaks. You can always throw them back on the grill if they are not done enough for your guests.
Rest the steaks for approximately 5 minutes before serving.

Grilled Lobster tails
Lobster tails (1 4-ounce tail per person)
garlic or shallots
Kosher salt & pepper

Defrost lobster tails, if frozen. While lobster tails are still defrosting, cut away and remove the thin underside membrane entirely with sharp kitchen scissors, leaving flesh fully exposed.
Melt butter in a small pan and sauté the garlic or shallots for 1-2 minutes or until soft. Squeeze in some lemon, fresh parsley, and a little kosher salt and pepper. Brush some of the butter mixture onto the lobster meat.
Place lobster tails, flesh side up on the grill for 3-5 minutes or until the shells turn bright red. Brush meat again with butter mixture, and turn and grill for 3-5 minutes or until flesh turns white. Turn the meat flesh side up once more and add more butter mixture. Turn the flesh side down again only if needed, and cook for 1-2 more minutes. Place lobster tails on a platter garnished with lemon wedges and fresh parsley sprigs. Serve with remaining melted butter mixture.

Teri’s Delish Boneless Buffalo Chicken

You gotta have hot sauce:
1 1/2 cups hot sauce + 1/2 heaping teaspoon cayenne pepper + 2 Tablespoons butter + 2 Tablespoons water = Yum

Hot Sauce:
Place sauce ingredients above in a small pan and simmer 4-5 minutes until well blended. Remove sauce from heat and set aside.

3 cups flour
1 ½ cups buttermilk (Fat-free works too)
3 pounds skinless chicken breast (1” thick – cut into 2” x 2” pieces)
1 ½ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
Peanut Oil (vegetable oil is okay too)
Celery sticks

Mix flour, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Place buttermilk in a separate bowl. Cut chicken into pieces. Heat oil for frying.
Place the chicken pieces in flour, then dip them into the buttermilk and back into the flour. Shake off any excess flour and carefully place chicken pieces into hot oil and fry until golden brown. Remove chicken pieces and drain on a paper towel. When all the chicken has been cooked and drained, place them in a large container.
(You can stop here, refrigerate the cooked chicken, and pick up the recipe the next day.)
When you are ready to serve the buffalo chicken, cover the cooked pieces with half the hot sauce and gently stir until all nuggets have been coated.
Then place the chicken pieces on a non-stick baking sheet and bake in a 350-degree oven for 10-15 minutes. Serve with the rest of the hot sauce, bleu cheese dressing and celery sticks.

Iceberg Wedge Salad
Iceberg lettuce (one-quarter wedge per person). Halved cherry tomatoes (red and yellow if possible)
Bacon (two slices crispy cooked bacon per wedge cut into ½-inch pieces)
Fresh crumbled bleu cheese
Bleu cheese dressing (I like Marie’s)
chopped egg (optional)

Discard outer leaves of the lettuce and quarter each head through the core so that each quarter holds together and place them on a large serving platter.
Sprinkle halved cherry tomatoes over each wedge.
At this point, you can sprinkle the crumbled bleu cheese, bacon, and bleu cheese dressing on top of the salad and serve immediately. Or if you prefer, you can serve the iceberg and tomatoes on a platter, with the crumbled bleu cheese, bacon, and bleu cheese dressing on the side.

Romaine Flower Salad
Head of romaine lettuce
Artichoke hearts
Cherry tomatoes
Sweet red cherry peppers, cored
Red onion sliced
Pitted black olives
Pitted green Olives
Basil leaves

Lay out the romaine lettuce leaves on a large platter. Place the cherry tomatoes and sweet red cherry peppers at the top of the platter and place the artichoke hearts in between as shown in the photo. Add the black olives on the bottom of the tray and place some green olives above them. Place pepperoncini on the bottom of the romaine, and add basil leaves.

Corn on the cob
Olive oil
Kosher salt & pepper
Aluminum foil

Shuck the corn and place each ear on a separate piece of aluminum foil. Sprinkle salt & pepper, and a little olive oil on each cob. Take a teaspoon of water and add it to each cob. Then roll up the corn with the aluminum foil and grill them on high for 15 minutes, turning occasionally. Place the corn on a platter either with or without the aluminum foil.

Khalid al-Asaad the Man vs. Cecil the Lion. Where’s the Outrage?

The killing of Cecil the lion—in which a Minnesota dentist, Walter J. Palmer, lured him out of a Zimbabwe sanctuary, and then beheaded him—has incensed people all over the world.

Well, now it’s time for people all over the world to be outraged over the slaughtering and beheading of the eighty-three-year-old caretaker of Palmyra’s antiquities, and home to some of Syria’s greatest archaeological treasures.

palmyra B

After detaining the Syrian scholar for weeks, the jihadists dragged him to a public square on Tuesday and cut off his head in front of a crowd. His blood-soaked body was then suspended with red twine by his wrists and hung from a traffic light. The jihadists placed Mr. Asaad’s head on the ground between his feet, his glasses still resting on his face.

His body was then taken to Palmyra’s archaeological site and strapped from one of the ancient Roman columns. A white placard with red writing was affixed to Mr. Assad’s waist listing his alleged crimes, calling him an “apostate” and “the director of idolatry.” His corpse is still fastened to the Roman column, rotting in the sun.

Known as “Mr. Palmyra” by many who knew him, he had been interrogated unsuccessfully by militants for over a month regarding the location of the city’s hidden treasures. Mr. Asaad refused to give up the information, and died a grisly death, protecting the same history he had dedicated his life to exploring for over fifty years.

Syrian state antiquities chief Maamoun Abdulkarim had this to say about the bespectacled caretaker: “Just imagine that such a scholar who gave such memorable services to the place and to history would be beheaded… and his corpse still hanging from one of the ancient columns in the centre of a square in Palmyra. The continued presence of these criminals in this city is a curse and bad omen on Palmyra and every column and every archaeological piece in it.”

Before ISIS entered Palmyra, one of the Mideast’s most spectacular archaeological sites, museum workers hurriedly moved many of its most precious artifacts to safer parts of Syria. Some of the larger pieces left behind were destroyed by ISIS. In June, they blew up two ancient shrines in Palmyra that were not part of its Roman-era structures but which the militants regarded as pagan and sacrilegious.

The militants have not yet significantly damaged Palmyra’s ruins. It is believed that ISIS is using the 2,000-year-old Roman-era city at the town’s edge, for protection, assuming that the United States-led military coalition will not bomb a Unesco heritage site.

The world wept for Cecil the lion. Who will weep for Asaad the man?

60 Is the New 40—but It’s Still 60


According to scientists, 60 is the new 40, and healthier lives mean people now hit middle-age much later in life. This is awesome news for me now that I’m 62. So I’m figuring it’s time to party hard, right?

No one likes to party more than me, but here is the question I keep asking myself:

Is there anything to celebrate about turning 60 and then beyond?

I’ve been assiduously mulling over the pros and cons of 60+. Try as I may, I haven’t found much to celebrate, and I’m struggling to think positively here, but there just aren’t a ton of advantages to oldness.

After much consideration, I was able to find one glorious Pro: I can finally say no.

I can’t avoid aging, but at least I’m now old enough to not  care one hoot about what anyone else thinks or wants. It’s finally all about me, with no regrets and no apologies.

So no, I’m not commemorating 62, but I have come to terms with it.  And I would like to think I’m at a stage in my life where I am also at peace with my age—and my wrinkles. But please do me a favor, and NEVER call me a senior.

And let’s be real—it’s exceedingly difficult to jubilate over my crow’s feet, laugh lines, jowls, and the dreaded “11’s” in between my hooded eyes. But the alternative is for sure a whole lot worse.

So I’ve created my own take on an old rant:

I’m old as hell and I’m not doing that anymore.

I first heard a similar phrase back in 1976 while watching the American satirical film Network. Howard Beale (played by Peter Finch), was a longtime newscaster at the United Broadcasting System, who was fired because he skewed old. Beale couldn’t fathom losing his 25-year post as lead anchorman simply because of his age.

So in his next broadcast he announced to his viewers that he was going to commit suicide on his final program. UBS believed that they would have their greatest ratings ever and hyped Beale’s fateful and final telecast as a momentous, must-see event. No surprise that Beale didn’t follow through with his suicide threat.

But he did go on a maniacal rant and concluded his tirade by challenging his viewers to: “Go to the window and shout as loud as you can: ‘I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!'” His ravings make him an icon and Beale landed his own show and became the hottest TV personality in America.

Now, I’m not going to scream out any windows, and my “hot” days are long gone, but I can finally run my own show.

And I’ve given up faking my age. I used to shave off ten years, but it got complicated and confusing. One tiny white lie turned into an entire ruse. Take for example this innocent question: “How old were you when you had kids?” The honest answer is 31 and 35. But I had to remember the minus ten-year rule, so the fake answer was 21 and 25. “Wow, you were young when you had kids,” my friends would retort, as I sheepishly agreed.

And then there were the times that I forgot about the negative ten, and would ruminate about things that I was barely born for like almost making it to Woodstock. I had to backtrack that white lie by adding that my mother was going to accompany me since I was a mere six years old.

And then there was always the uneasiness that my husband or offspring would spill the old age beans. But those days are thankfully gone. Now, I just don’t care what other people think about my older-than-dirt self. Because I’m old as hell and…

Every now and then, I get requests from colleagues asking me to speak at some conference, workshop, or seminar. They try to convince me that it will attract lots of business prospects.

In the old days, even though I would have preferred to stick a hot poker in my eye, I would succumb to the pressure, and say “yes.” Now? I say, “Thanks anyway, but my prospecting days are over.”

As recently as five years ago, I understood the importance of doing things I didn’t enjoy or want to do. But those days are long gone. I’m older and wiser now.

When I’m asked to make dinner for the masses, I politely notify: “I don’t have the strength at my age.”

Turnaround business trips to wherever? “I’m not able to do that any longer.”

Obligatory outings? “I can’t sit for that long.”

Need help moving? “My back is shot.”

Now that I don’t have to prospect, cook, travel, or move people, I have a lot of time to ponder and observe women like me who are getting long in the tooth. And yes, there are some women aging quite well out there. But there are also way too many women who have gone under the knife, a few too many times. The search for the fountain of youth can sometimes get very (and I mean very) ugly.

You know the look: Windblown facelifts that resemble trudging through a typhoon…


…the permanently surprised face, the piggy nose, trout lips, way too big and white teeth…Listen up people—YOU CAN’T FIX OLD.

And let’s face it—ageism, no matter how young you look for your age, is a real downer. Plus as the saying goes: You’re only as young as your neck.

These days, it seems that everyone is obsessed with fixing old. There’s microdermabrasion, triphasic facials, Botox, fillers, hair extensions, acrylic nails. There are butt lifts, breast and chin implants, tummy tucks, liposuction, lip augmentation, blah, blah, blah. Is there anyone authentically old left out there?

And am I the only one who is sick and tired of the Victoria’s Secret models prancing around in undergarments? I can’t wait to see what they look like at 62. Oh, I almost forgot—I’ll be long gone by then.

I try to stay in shape—trying  being the operative word, because I’m just too damn old to be jogging, spinning, cycling, weight training, and the like. Hell, I can barely dance without limping around hunched over the next day.

I prefer to think of myself as “Native American Summer”—before politically correctness kicked in, aka Indian Summer.

Native American Summer

Somehow Native American Summer just doesn’t have the same ring, but call it what you want. Bottom line: I am under a warm calm spell, with the sober realization that a long, cold winter is on its way. As I enjoy the tranquility and serenity of my old age, I know that my personal El Niño is lurking around the corner.

I try not to look back at the days when I would walk into a room or down the street and actually get noticed. Now I am invisible to all. The upside of being a ghost is the increased freedom to explore who I am without all the scrutiny or outside expectations. My irrelevance has made it easier to relax—and be myself.

And I’m finally able to focus on what I want to do, and not what I should do to make everyone else happy about me, my lifestyle, my career, and my life choices.

I once read a fascinating article by Pulitzer Prize winner and psychologist Erik Erikson regarding his belief that there were eight psychosocial stages of life development. His theory has stuck with me and goes something like this:

The first year of life: “I am what I am given.”

Second and third years of life: “I am what I will be.”

Fourth through the sixth year of life: “I am what I imagine I will be.”

Age six through puberty: “I am what I will learn.”

Adolescence: “Who am I?”

Early adulthood: “I am what I love.”

Middle adulthood: “I am what I create.”

Late adulthood: “I am what survives me.”

Pregnant mom

The “Ending” of My Life Will NOT Be Happy—But I Need to Be the Boss of It

Sometime in early 2009 I asked my lawyer husband to update my will. Six years later, I’m still waiting. I know he’s been busy, but really?

In case you’re wondering what prompted my request for a legal modification:

In 2008, there was a scene in Season 2, Episode 9, of Madmen, titled “Six Month Leave,” where Don Draper utters the following bar advice: “It’s your life. You don’t know how long it’s gonna last, but you know it doesn’t end well.”

His aphoristic words have been resonating with me ever since. I am most definitely not expecting a “Happy Ending.” But if I’m in charge of said end, I am optimistic that with a well thought out plan of action, I will be fully prepared to execute the whole sordid mess my way.

But first things first. As a means to the end, I’m hoping that this blog post will help to jump start a codicil and/or serve as proof of what I want in terms of my final wishes. I’m also hoping that this blog post will hold up in a court of law because there has been zero movement on my almost seven-years-already appeal to the hubby. And it seems unlikely that a new and improved version of my VERY OLD WILL is coming anytime soon.

Anyway, pending a revised will, durable power of attorney, living will, health care proxy and DNR (no pun intended, but I’m not holding my breath), below is a quick and dirty amendment to the Last Will and Testament of Teri Dawne Schure.

And maybe this sounds outrageously depressing, but I have been busily and intensely engineering my last hoorah. While my friends have been planning European trips, and seeking retirement advice, I have been assiduously putting the final touches on my last chapter.

Control freak that I am, it should come as no surprise to those who know and still love me, that me myself and I will be orchestrating my closing performance. I am hoping for some dignity, a competent finale, with a little comic relief thrown in for good measure. Okay, it probably won’t be that dignified, because I expect all my homies to party like it’s 1999. And ever the hostess with the mostess, I am fully expecting my bon voyage to be one hell of a shindig.

I fervently hope that I have enough of a final-days-heads-up to spend them in a beauteous locale surrounded by mountains or the ocean. And if I get the dreaded Alzheimer’s, I pray my fam will do the right thing and proceed with all that I have requested in this post. (They’re probably reading this and thinking I won’t be the wiser, but just do it loved ones!)

When it’s my time, I hope to have all my cherished peeps at my side as I peacefully fade away. Oh and make sure I’m pumped full of shit loads of pain medication, and my iPod blasting. Music needs to be an essential component of my final act. I want my treasured iPod to be playing all of my fave tunes while I deliver my swan song.

And when my time here on earth is concluded, don’t count me out so fast, cuz I plan on having the last word, which will be recited aloud. And YES, it will, of course, include the as usual unwelcome motherly advice for my kids.

I am wholeheartedly expecting the end to be easy breezy although I recognize it may be stressy messy—and way more labor intensive and time consuming than I would prefer or planned for. So DO NOT forget to administer the painkillers.

And at my adios soiree, I want a B-I-G partay. No expense spared people. Pigs in a blanket are a must, as well as a signature Martini—Stoli up, no vermouth, three olives with or without bleu cheese. Oh and I definitely want a bunch of those delish Chicken Samosas from Trader Joe’s, some shrimp cocktail, and a killer Italian rum cake with chocolate and vanilla pudding smothered in whipped cream. Hey, I might be dead, but let them eat my favorite cake.

I can’t bear the thought of being stuffed into a coffin and then buried in the dirt. SO DON’T DO IT.

My daughter Ariel knows the drill. I’m to be cremated, even though it’s against my religion. She can put me anywhere she wants—in her attic, her basement, the laundry room, wherever. I’m not picky. But she needs to TAKE ME WITH. Wherever she goes, I go.

If anyone wants a Teri souvenir, I think I would make a standout piece of jewelry.

And per my usual research I found some fascinating ways to divvy me up:

Teri Hour Glass

Although it probably won’t function as a reliable timepiece, it will allow me to keep time at my own pace. Call it Teri Time.

Teri Diamond

Since diamond is my birthstone, I like this idea a lot. Plus, a Teri diamond is forever.

Teri Paint

You can mix me up with a little paint and use it for a Teri portrait.

Teri Candlesticks

You can create a one-of-a-kind Teri pair to add height, shape and interest to your tablescape. I would also be quite handy during a blackout.

Teri Suncatcher

Mix me into some stained glass and hang me someplace sunny.

Teri Bust

You can create a three-dimensional Teri likeness of me. This bust will not only be my spitting image, but it will also allow me to keep an eye on things.

Teri Jewelry

You can accessorize a la Teri wherever and whenever.

Teri Stemware

Handy dandy way to never drink alone again.

Teri Mask

Create a Teri mask King Tut style.

Teri Maracas

Drag Teri out for special musical occasions.

After reviewing all of the options, my personal preference (listen up Ariel), would be a Teri candelabra.

My favorite Disney character has always been Lumière from Beauty and the Beast. He has such panache and a bona fide bon vivant! Yes, I could definitely envision my candelabra self. The more I thought about it, the more excited I became.

So excited, that I e-mailed with questions regarding a custom candelabra. Mr. Dawson from Foreverence, got back to me immediately and was enthusiastic about working on a custom, 3-D-printed urn in the shape of a candelabra—ASAP. Mr. Dawson wanted to connect by phone to go over the project details. And he wanted to know if I had a specific candelabra in mind and if I could provide a photo. He was adamant about getting as much information as “we” could gather to assist their designers.

Whoa, maybe I’m not that excited.

And then there was the price. A mere $2,495.00 for a unique and custom urn. It seemed like an arm and a leg for a simple candelabra of my cremains, and I wondered if there was any wiggle room in the price.

Oh, and the process takes about two weeks once the design is completed. Mr. Dawson ended his e-mail with “Let me know if you have any additional questions, and when you would like to get started.”

Back off Mr. Dawson, I’m not in that much of a hurry. Plus, I need to shop around. Make sure your price is in line with comparable candelabrum.

But I did take scotch tape to paper to create the following rough draft:

Teri Lumiere

Okay, maybe my rendering needs some fine tuning. So once the Teri takers have placed and received their orders, I will leave the rest of me to my imaginative, fashion-forward daughter to design the perfect Teri taper holder.

But whatever Teri masterpiece my daughter deems appropriate to create, I want it engraved with the following:

Don’t forget to dream.  Don’t forget to laugh.  Don’t forget to live.