Category Archives: Events

Recipe: Summer Salad – Tomato Pesto Mozzarella Panzanella

If you are looking for an authentic, traditional panzanella salad, you’d be better off with this one from Giada De Laurentis. But if you want something equally delicious,  that can be made in about 4 minutes, I’m your girl! There is no toasting of the bread, no seeding or peeling of tomatoes, or other fussy steps.


A bounty of tomatoes from Common Hands Farm

Read the rest of this entry


Recipe: Spicy, Sweet ‘n Smokey Cowboy Chili

It’s that time of year that this owner of a spice company looks forward to the most:  the annual Chili Contest at Catamount Ski Resort!


This great event brings together chili competitors from all over — home cooks, caterers, chefs, restaurants. It’s great fun but also a great cause, as both the competitor registration fee and the tasters’ entrance fees are donated to the Roe Jan Food Pantry.Chili cookoff image

According to Heather White, Communications Manager for Catamount,

“A total of $676 for the Roe Jan Food Pantry during the event, so please give yourselves a hand!  We had 95 people as taste testers, who voted for the winners.”




19 bubbling pots of chili were available for tasting this year. Read the rest of this entry

Event: Signature Chef Auction for the March of Dimes

1376697_684360544921923_1871279596_nEvery October for the last 4 years, I’ve been part of something delicious, fun and worthy:  the March of Dimes’ “Signature Chef Auction“.

This event is a huge fundraiser for this organization whose mission is  “to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality”. Money is raised by ticket sales, sponsorships, a huge silent auction, a live auction featuring lavish meal and vacation packages, and an old-fashioned raffle.

The draw, undoubtedly, is the food. Read the rest of this entry

Recipe: “Don’t be a turkey 4-bean chili”

It’s chili time!

Catamount Chili Contest poster2Yesterday, I took part in a chili cook-off at Catamount Ski here in Hillsdale. This incredibly busy ski resort repeated one of their most popular events, inviting over 20 local chefs and amateurs to compete for prizes and bragging rights. It only cost each guest $5 to taste all of the dishes, and the competitors each paid $10 to enter. All of these proceeds went to the Roe Jan Food Pantry.

The Tavern was absolutely packed, with diners, skiers, cooks and even members of the press. We all lined up proudly with our chili creations in front of us, doling out samples to hundreds of people. Read the rest of this entry

Guest Chef… for a cause!

Would you like to be a guest chef?” is a phrase I’ve been dying to hear! It finally happened a few weeks ago, when Janis Smythe,  the chair of Hillsdale’s “Green Solutions” Committee, contacted me.

Welcome to HillsdalePart of Green Solutions’ mission is to “serve as a model of energy efficiency that both builders and home owners can adopt to enjoy long term cost savings and cleaner air”, and they are very creative in how they put this mission into action.

One way is to bring in guest chefs to the Hillsdale Farmers Market, and have the chef demonstrate how to use the bounty of seasonal produce. Read the rest of this entry

Home Tasting Party!

Brunch selections

You are invited for a tasting party!

One of the most fun and effective ways to showcase my yummy products is to hold a full-out tasting party at someone’s home.

Here is what I do:

  • supply the groceries and all paper goods (napkins, plates, cups, cutlery)
  • prepare a selection of dishes, ranging from simple appetizers to main courses like sirloin tips and onion mashed potatoes
  • bring a large inventory of product with me, so that your guests can usually leave with their full order, that day
  • leave your kitchen as tidy as I found it

Here is what you do:

  • forward the invitation that I write for you, to your friends [my minimum number of guests is 8, and I have no maximum.  Couples count as ONE]
  • have some wine and water on hand
  • relax!

If you are interested in hosting a tasting party yourself, drop me a line at or call me at 518-810-4042. Note, I am available for most of Columbia, Saratoga, Green and Duchess Counties (New York State). 

This is an example of a typical invitation for you to forward:

Spice it up with Maria!

 You are invited to a home party like you’ve never seen!

 At 6:30PM on Friday, May 6th ,  Laura Griffin will be at my home in Colonie to share her line of yummy, organic foods and spices – and I’d like to invite you to join us!  Her company is not a franchise;  Laura is a New Yorker and networking colleague who started Your Spice of Life almost 3 years ago, creating and producing a variety of products like: 

  • Versatile organic spice blends – original recipes like Thai Treasure and Sunny Sicilian
  • Lula’s Fruit Crisp Mix, a fantastic, wholesome dessert mix
  • Smokin’ Onion Double Dipper dip & seasoning mix
  • Chai Spiced Coffee mix…  and much more

 She will be serving up numerous dishes using her products…
so bring an appetite!

 You’ll be able to bring most products that you order home with you, that night, while other items like gift baskets or custom blends will be delivered to me for pickup later. (Psst… Your Spice of Life products make fabulous gifts for birthdays, weddings and hostess gifts for the holidays like Easter and Mother’s Day)

 So mark your calendar for Friday, May 6th at 6:30PM…  and get ready to discover how easy, delicious and versatile it can be to cook with fresh, organic spices and mixes!

 Please RSVP to me by May 4th so I can tell Laura how many guests she will be cooking for. Thanks!

 If you want to check out Your Spice of Life ahead of time,  visit, her blog at,  or go to her Facebook fan page at  

~ Your Spice of Life accepts personal checks, cash, Paypal, and major credit cards ~

Big Scissors: Fun at The Berry Farm

I have always wanted to cut a red ribbon with giant scissors… and I got my wish!

Here is how it happened:  I recently joined the Columbia County (NY) Chamber of Commerce.  One of the many benefits and perks is to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony at your business, as your “coming out” to the community. That is great, but I don’t have a storefront of my own, so I thought the opportunity was lost.

Things have a way of working out for me, however, and this time was no different. Read the rest of this entry

Coming up…

I’ll be at Small Business Fair on Sunday, Feb. 6th from 11AM to 2PM, with a small but very talented group of entrepreneurs! The list is available on the  Small Business Fair at Unity Church flyer.

The church is located at 21 King Avenue in Albany NY (close to exit 5, Everett Road).  If you arrive early you can catch the 10AM service, too!

For more info about Unity, see

Art Annex Gallery

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Rick Bettencourt

Author of the bestsellers Marketing Beef, Tim on Broadway, and more!

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A Cheese, Meat and Specialty Food Shop in the Heart of DelSo, Albany, NY

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Be Fearless in the Kitchen!

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Your Spice of Life

~ "Yummy. Easy. Organic."

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