Archive for March, 2010

Matzo Meals…Desserts

March 30, 2010

For a 2nd night Seder this year, we have been invited to celebrate Passover with some good friends.  Personally I am looking forward to this, as we have not had a large Seder in quite some time.  This is great on many levels not the least of which is spending time with friends.  Well the reason for this entry is to lay down some Pesach recipes that I hope will help enlighten your views, use and appreciation for the …bread of affliction… Matzo.  This unleavened bread serves as a reminder to the haste with which our ancestors made their leave from Egypt and their bondage.  Back in these changing biblical times, Matzo was a necessary means of nourishment; however today we can use it to make just about anything.  Here are two recipes for desserts I used for tonight’s Seder.  The 1st one is not a Passover recipe but it has been modified to use matzo in place of crackers – Chocolate Breakup and the 2nd is from the Food Network’s website, Passover Page Passover Cobbler.

Please keep in mind that for full Pesach Kosher, you must ensure all ingredients are Kosher for Passover specific.

Chocolate Breakup:

  • 1 – 12oz package of semi-sweet chips
  • ½ C sugar
  • 1t Vanilla extract
  • (Non Passover 35 Saltines)
  • 3 Whole Matzo
  • 1 Stick of Butter (room temperature)
  • 1sm bag of nuts (optional) for top – walnuts/pecans/almonds

Preheat Oven to 350°.  On a large cookie sheet with sides, places the matzo (whole or broken) in a single layer covering the entire sheet.  Melt butter, vanilla and sugar over medium low heat in a small sauce pan, whisk to ensure the mix is well incorporated.  Pour the mixture over the matzo and spread evenly.  Then spread chocolate chips over again spreading evenly and place in oven for 5-7 minutes.  When the break-up comes out of the oven, using a metal spatula (easiest) spread the chips to smooth in to an icing like presentation, add nuts if desired.  Once pan has cooled considerably, place in freezer or refrigerator to completely cool (a few hours).  Once this is done, break it up and place in a plastic bag to complete the breakup job if needed.  That’s it and enjoy.

Passover Cobbler:

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  • 3 large eggs
  • ¾C sugar
  • ¼C kosher for Passover vegetable oil
  • ¾C matzo meal
  • 2T potato starch
  • 1t course kosher salt
  • 6 to 8C peeled and sliced fruit, like apples, pears, and strawberries
    • (I used about 6 medium sized Gala Apples)
  • 1/8 cup cinnamon sugar (or more if needed)

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly oil a 9 by 9-inch square baking pan.  Beat eggs with sugar until well blended. Add the oil, matzo meal, potato starch and salt and blend well.  Put all the fruit in the pan and sprinkle with most of the cinnamon sugar, reserving a little for the top. Spoon the batter over the fruit, covering as much of the fruit as you can. Sprinkle with remaining sugar.  Bake until the topping is set and just turning tan, about 45 minutes. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.  Adorn with Cool Whip or a scoop of your favorite Vanilla ice cream.

Both look delicious, the breakup is fantastic (easier to taste without cutting inJ).  All in all matzo is not just for butter and brei anymore, although they are still as awesome as always.  Let me know if you have a favorite way to enjoy this flat flour delicacy; what are your family favorites and traditions?  I will leave you with a little ditty I wrote while eating my egg salad on matzo sandwich today:

(Sing to the tune of ‘Pants on the Ground’)

  • Crumbs in your beard,
  • Matzo on your shirt,
  • Looking all Jewish on Passover,
  • With your Matzo crumbs all around!

Chag Pesach Sameach, Happy Passover.


Linxter Selected to Join the Microsoft BizSpark One Program

March 29, 2010

Linxter Selected to Join the Microsoft BizSpark One Program

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Facebook What is it Good for… Here’s One!

March 26, 2010

Recently whether on personal travel or just here at home, my family and I have had four or five, mini reunions (if you will) that would not have been possible without Facebook.  On a side note my fraternity brothers, Kappa Sigma alumni from Towson University are planning a weekend in Atlantic City this summer (can you say Hangover 2), all made possible again because of Facebook. Planned or as an afterthought these mini-reunions have been very nice and have recharged old friendships and forged new ones as well.

I think back in January is where it all began for us; my family and I were in Norfolk, VA for my beautiful cousin Stacie’s wedding to a great guy Mike.  While on the road, my wife and I were leaving updates of our journey on our Facebook status.  The first opportunity that arose, but quickly became our second meeting was in Fayetteville, NC with Jean Marie and Mike G.   We have some old friends from Baltimore who live in Fayetteville and saw our progress and that we had stopped for the night in their town.  My wife had a Facebook message in the morning asking what our plans were and could we meet for breakfast.  As that didn’t work out, we did ensure that on the way back through we would stop and meet.  Four days later, we stopped for some good country food at everybody’s favorite highway restaurant Cracker Barrel.  Although Jean Marie had to work, we were able to meet with Mike and their two sons and had a great time catching up.

Prior to this reunion however while in Norfolk another Facebook chance meeting took place.  One of Michele’s high school friends lives in Virginia Beach with her husband, who is in the Navy and her children.  Again Cheryl who was following our progress messaged Michele saying that it would be great to meet if the time worked out.  Once we had our plans for the wedding weekend, we were able to include this reunion.  Michele and Cheryl hadn’t seen each other since high school in Hartford County, MD.  We went to our favorite burger place Red Robin (at that time not near us in FL).  We had a great time at diner, I made a new friend and Michele and Cheryl reconnected as well as our kids hanging out and discussing their awful teenage lives and the torture of school.

It’s amazing how much smaller this world is when Facebook is becoming the gooey center/crème filling :).

Well now we’re are back in Florida and having lunch at Bob’s Big Boy, where I said something to the server (in my not so quiet voice) about being from Baltimore, the next thing we know is another diner was at our table asking if my wife was Michele V (maiden initial) from Towson University.  Well when they realized the connection and that yes they were Facebook friends, that kicked off another planned reunion was already in the works.  You see Michelle and my wife Michele are sorority sisters from Towson University.  If it weren’t for them being friends on Facebook and my “inside voice” we would have eaten and run as would have they without ever knowing of the close encounter.  Fast forward to 2 weeks ago, we had dinner with Michelle and her husband Jim prior to an Orlando Magic game.  We meet at Panera along with my sister and daughter had a great time and forging new and renewed friendships.  Since Michelle and Jim are in our area we are hoping to plan more with them including our kids.

Just last weekend we had 1 more reunion, this time with a family friend who my sister and I grew up with and her family as they were here for a Disney vacation.  Karen W, her 3 kids, husband and aunt (who lives in Orlando) planned a diner with us prior to leaving Pennsylvania.  For about 1 month while wheeling and dealing in hard to get Girl Scout cookies (Lemonades, if you were interested), we planned to meet and catch up.  Well when the day finally arrived we found ourselves at a table for 11 at the Smokey Bones in Waterford Lakes.  We had a great time catching up, meeting her family and just hanging out with all around good people.  Her brother William may be down here as well in the fall and we look forward to that reunion as well.

During the same weekend as meeting Karen et al,  I helped a friend, Marion with an IT issue, yes you guessed it, it was all discussed, planned and coordinated right there in Facebook.  She came over to our house, we kibitzed a bit about a place we used to work at together and just reconnected.

As the days, weeks and months roll on; I am looking forward to finding these opportunities, strengthening and renewing old friendships and forging new ones too.

Table Topics Contest…

March 12, 2010

Last night I participated in a table topics contest at OMNI Toastmasters. Table topics are short impromptu speeches (two minutes in length). The topic for the contest was predetermined by the contest master, but not known to anyone until read to the 1st contestant.

There were seven of us involved in this contest; we drew numbers for our order, I was number five. The first contestant remained in the room, while the remaining six of us were escorted to a holding area; you see the topic is unknown to the contestants until their turn as well.  Not realizing that two minutes speeches and one minute judging goes so quickly, my turn had arrived before I knew it!  I was escorted back in to the main meeting room, took a swig of my water and was introduced, given the topic…”If I had the power to improve this country I would…”  Wow, a two-minute speech on a topic that can be inflammatory and controversial, how was I going to pull this off?  Although I didn’t win or place, I feel that I performed well, I caught myself using ‘um’s’, realized didn’t move and kept my hands behind my back the entire time.  I did however notice the timing indicators and I hit the mark I was aiming for (green light 1′, yellow 1’30”, red 2′ and beyond), I concluded on yellow.  I felt good when I was done, and happy that I made it through okay, knowing bigger and better things are to come.

The rest of the evening was an International Speech Contest and accomplished members gave prepared 5-7 minutes speeches.  We heard about “Found Treasures”, “Defining Moments”, “Courage” and “Perspective”.  I was impressed with all the enthusiasm and excitement of the event.

Embarking on this, I feel like entering 10th grade oral communications or a similar course in college, but this opportunity is not required or mandatory, for me it is an opportunity for myself and become a better communicator, a better listener and grow as a leader.


March 10, 2010

Next Saturday March 20, 2010, my family, friends and I will be walking for Michele in the 2010 walkMS event at Lake Eola in Orlando.  This is the 4th year we have walked to raise money and awareness for Multiple Sclerosis.

My wife was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2006 when she experienced Optic Neuritis.  This condition caused her to have blindness (blocked vision) in her left eye; and as we now know, is a typical first symptom of MS.  During that first week we visited four doctors, she had emergency MRI, blood tests, a spinal tap from a doctor who lacked not only bedside manor but general patient skills; if that wasn’t enough a home health nurse was dispatched daily for a week to administer IV steroids in our home to attempt to restore her vision (yes it did work).  Eventually we began to learn more about MS its affects, concerns, worries and prognosis.  We also contacted the Mid Florida Chapter of the National MS Society to see what services were available to help explain this to our then 5-year-old daughter; not only did we find what we needed, but we were made aware of the major fund raising event held all over the country in different regions and towns…walkMS!

We jumped in feet first, collected donations and participated in the walk in March 2007.  We were blown away by the generosity of our friends and family’s outpouring of support.  The walk was successful, shortly there after I we received an email from the walk coordinators inviting anyone to join the volunteer walk planning committee; I responded with my interest, three subsequent walks later I am still involved in the planning and organization of the annual event.  Last year I was honored to be asked to be the Orlando walk ambassador, representing those with and those affected by MS in 2009.  This year the walk is looking to exceed expectations in participation and monies raised.  The money is used to fund research, programs and provide assistance to the local community for those affected by MS.  I urge you to get involved educate yourself, donate, walk or volunteer.

In January 2007 Michele began her life long treatment to stop MS in its tracks to deny and/or limit its progression.  Currently she takes three self injections of a Beta/Interferon per week at home.  The medicine is 1 of only a small handful of available treatments, very costly and occasionally causes short-term flu like symptoms.  The alternative is the potential for a incapacitated life.  There are hopes of less invasive treatments in the future but the goal is a cure.

The walk is just over one week away please support my effort by donating to the National MS Society via my walk sponsorships : DONATE TO HOWARD.

Contemplating Topics…

March 4, 2010

I am working on coming up with more topics that suit me, I have thought about expectations, silly things people say, perception and much more.  If you have any topics that interest you, please leave a comment and help me out.  I think I need to realize also that to make an impact nothing long, just a my thoughts and musings.  Writing is the easy part, the what am I writing about is the hard one.  I need an editor with assignments and deadlines :-D

On another note as of Monday I will be a paid member of Omni Toastmasters 6861.  Thursday March 11, 2010 they are holding a contest night and I am planning on submitting myself for the table topics portion, coming out of the gate running :)


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