Judy’s Tales: beef and sliced bananas

I do the most thinking about my mom while I’m in the kitchen.

Like on lazy Sundays when the TV is off, the guy is hanging out with his brother and the only sound heard is the sharp edge of my knife slicing and chop chop chopping against a smooth bamboo cutting board.

I love that sound. Sometimes I will just chop, dice and slice every bit of produce I’ll need for a week all in the same day just so that I can practice the art. You know, just in case I’m ever on Food Network Star or something. 😉

Those moments of solitude and silence are when I relive stories of my mom. Never a day goes by that I don’t try my hardest to remember things. Sometimes I feel as if I don’t make a conscious effort to go through those 32 years of life, year by year, I’ll forget something important that I want to be able to remember and share with my own children.

My mom loved to be in the kitchen, just like I do. She was in her element entertaining, cooking up comfort foods (like her scrumptious chicken parmigiana!), baking for a crowd, or prepping a Thanksgiving feast.

I’ve mentioned before what a picky eater my mom was. My dad was the complete opposite. He’d eat just about anything (and anywhere!). He’s dined at some sketchy establishments that my mother wouldn’t even drive by. Somehow my palette fell somewhere in between.

As I was prepping ingredients for fruit smoothies the other day, I was reminded of something I had forgotten about my mother. As much of a finicky eater that she was, she did possess some very strange eating habits! One of her favorite foods of all time was ropa vieja (old clothes). It’s a Cuban staple of stewed flank steak in a rich tomato sauce cooked for hours until it’s fork tender and served over rice. My grandmother would make it for her all the time, and after she passed, my godmother Laurie took over and made it for my mom.

The strange part about my mom’s love affair with this dish was in the way she ate it. She would start with a base of white or yellow rice, top it with a scoop of the saucy ropa vieja, then top the beef with sliced bananas.

No, not plantains. Bananas. You know, regular bananas that you would make smoothies with? Yup, those. Bright yellow bananas slices right on top. She would then proceed to fork all three into one bite and add more slices if she ran out.

I would have to ask my uncles or my mom’s cousins when and how my mother conjured up this crazy creation. But as far as I can remember, this is how she ate her ropa vieja. It didn’t stop there though. Mom would also add banana slices to her yellow rice and chicken!

I couldn’t help but laugh at loud when I was thinking of this story. I think I’ll have to whip out Clarita’s Cocina next week and try my hand at making ropa vieja. Maybe I’ll through a few banana slices in honor of my mom so that I can taste what all the fuss was about!

photoDo you have any strange eating habits?

Steph 🙂

PS- Don’t forget to enter my giveaway!


Nutrition S’mart review

I love supporting smaller stores around the Tampa Bay area. Especially when the managers of theses establishments are near and dear to my heart.

That’s the case with Nutrition S’mart. Currently Rudy and Maruchi manage two locations here in Tampa: Carrollwood and Wesley Chapel and I’ve known them, well let’s say they’ve known me since I was a just a little baby. We lived in the same neighborhood, and we were all the best of friends. I use the word “all” because Rudy and Maruchi have 3 children, and I have the fondest of memories growing up with them. Dozens of play dates, beach trips, fishing adventures, Halloween parties and so much more.

Eventually the family moved away, we grew older, and went off to college leaving those fun adventures in our childhood, however our families never lost contact. In fact, they remained very close to my mom and dad, especially throughout my mom’s illness and passing. They have supported Team Judy and our fundraising endeavors, and even walked by our side at our inaugural Miles for Moffitt, Jogging for Judy event. I’ve also reconnected with their daughter, Lauren, and her fabulous blog Gluten Free with Lauren Marie. She shows you how delicious and satisfying gluten free cooking can be!

Rudy and Maruchi are the real deal. They are genuine, kind, giving and two of the most positive people you’ll ever meet. In my opinion, when you manage a business, qualities like this mirror in an establishment. Walk into one of their stores and you’ll feel that vibe.

970998_513600238706698_1759472447_nNutrition S’mart is staffed with friendly and knowledgeable employees who are willing to help you navigate the over 10,000 natural and organic vitamins, groceries, produce and beauty supplies they carry. Their motto “organic, doesn’t mean expensive” rings true. Their prices are truly amazing, and they offer a variety of weekly BOGO specials. When I was in the store last weekend, the BOGO specials were a-plenty! Everything from Zevia soda and Almond Breeze to coconut water and Alexia frozen potato products! They even featured Kind Bars BOGO! These specials aren’t advertised, so each week you walk into a Nutrition S’mart you will definitely be in for a surprise!
photo 1photo 1 (3) photo 2 (2)photo 1 (5) photo 3 (2) photo 3 (3)They have an extensive and exclusive Gluten Free section of the store, and a vitamin aisle that literally stretches as far as the eye can see!

photo 5 (2)Their 100% organic produce section is impressive, and so are the prices! Each week they feature sales on different items. While I was there organic avocados were $.99 each! That is one of the best prices I’ve seen!

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photo 5 (1) photo 4The Carrollwood location carries vast selection of craft beer and wine, and great variety of dry goods in bulk bins. Even some of their wines were BOGO!

photo 2 photo 4 (1)photo 1 (1)In addition to the awesome BOGO specials sprinkled around the store, I also noticed amazing deals on some of the products I love.

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The shopping experience doesn’t stop at the prices though. Both of the Nutrition S’mart locations in the Bay area offer classes on cooking, and health, in addition to weight loss challenges, product demos, samples and more! Oh, and if you bring your own shopping bag, they’ll give you a nickel off your purchase for every bag you use!

photo 5 (4)If you haven’t visited a Nutrition S’mart, I definitely suggest you stop by and see what it’s all about! Visit their website for more details, store hours, directions and more!

I’m more than happy to support local businesses in the area, especially those who are dedicated to quality, healthy living and are looking out for the customer. Hoping you’ll stop by and visit Rudy and Maruchi! Tell them Steph sent you! 🙂


nutritionsmartPlease make sure you contact me so that I can get your gift cards to you! 🙂


So much to say, so much to say

So much to say, so much to say.
Little baby!
Ok, I’m done. Dave Matthews fans… you’re welcome.

I do have a lot to say though. So I’m going to cram it all into a fancy list post just because it’s summer. And I’m feeling lazy. And I’ve given you 4 completely awesome posts in a row so I can break up the awesomeness with a list. And because I said so.

Sorry about that last part. Just practicing the teacher voice I haven’t used in 2 months.

  1. I made some fabulous fish tacos tonight with homemade guacamole (1 ripe Florida avocado, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, minced garlic, the juice of 2 limes). I stuffed steamed tortillas with baked haddock (olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder), a dollop of guac, and chopped tomatoes and scallions as a garnish. These things were the shit. Go make them now. And eat the leftover guacamole with your fingers, huddled over your kitchen sink like a wild animal. It tastes better that way.


2. I received a box of goodies this week! Don’t you just love getting gifts in the mail? Last month I signed up to participate in something called Beauty Box Buddies! Have you ever heard of Foodie Pen Pal? It’s similar, but instead of sending a box of edible goodies to a blogger (or not a blogger, we don’t discriminate), you send a box of goodies that are meant to make you gorgeous, pretty, deliciously smelling… you get the idea!

beautyboxbuddiesI was lucky enough to receive a package from Ashley, the creator of BBB herself, and it was jam-packed with fun (and oh-so-pretty) goodies for me to play with! How did she know I hardly ever leave home without a necklace on and that I’m a hairspray addict? ;

photo (1)Want to join in the fun next month? Check out this link for more details!

3. I left the house with bedhead today. I only drove to the pool, but I’m sure I scared some passerbys along the way. My smoothie was good though. Oh and don’t look at my nails.

photo 1 (1)4. The Tampa Bay Rays are hosting a Girl’s Night Out at the Trop on August 15 for their 7:00 game against Seattle! For $25 you’ll get a lower level seat, a kick ass Rays wine glass Tervis tumbler (gimmie now!), and 1 fill up of wine of your choice! The guy and I will already be at this game using our tickets we received from the Miles for Moffitt 5k race, but you better believe I’m going to do what needs to be done to upgrade and get one of these glasses! wine_tumbler_300x300

5. Tomorrow starts the Tax Free weekend! I’ll be getting my shop on buying new clothes for the school year! I wear optional uniforms to school, which at my new site will consist of red or black polos, with neutral slacks or skirts. First stop? Old Navy!

6. Um, have you entered my super sweet, kick ass, awesomely zombie-filled giveaway? You have until Monday to enter to win 2 free tickets to ANY remaining Run For Your Lives zombie themed 5k! You can register as a runner OR get professionally made up as a zombie and scare the Gatorade out of runners as they pass by you on the course. I know. Fucking awesome. You’re welcome! Enter now! Go! It’s fun! Trust me! And if you don’t win? You can still participate and save 15% off registration with my discount code: ZPTD6!

So, tell me…. what’s on YOUR mind? Will you be shopping this tax free weekend? 

Steph 🙂