Sweet Treats for the Team

Birthdays, rainy days, just-because days ~ are always a good day for a sweet treat at work.

No matter how old we get, we still perk up at the sight of a brightly frosted cupcake or a dish of freshly baked cookies. Here at Harbor Magic, everyone has their favorite and when their special day comes along, we do our best to accommodate!


While the debate over chewy brownies versus cakey brownies will forever go on, there is no debating that the occasional sweet treat at work brings teams together and makes even the gloomiest Mondays something to smile about!

 Short on time but still want to make something delicious? Put your own twist on a boxed mix by adding fresh fruit to a cake batter or assorted nuts to a brownie mix. (Don’t forget: For an extra indulgent treat, you can cool your tray of brownies, frost and enjoy!)

#HarborMagic  #AdmiralFellInn



by Keith Davis

With February comes the beginning of the ideas that spring will soon be here.  Even though the groundhog did see its shadow, the somewhat higher than average temperatures brings the idea that spring is just around the corner.  It makes me think of the garden that I will plant, and the foraging adventures that will take place, the walks in the outdoors that I will enjoy.  It also gives me a chance to reflect and read, and I came across a project that I did a few years back about seasonal ingredients.  So with no foraging trips, I thought this might be of interest.


Asparagus.  A vegetable that everyone knows, right?  But do you?  Do you know the real facts about asparagus?

  • It is a member of the Lily family, related to onions, leeks, and garlic.
  •   It has been cultivated for over 2,500 years
  • Is planted 3 years before it is harvested
  •   If well cared for, the plant can produce up to 15 years.
  • Spears grow from a crown that is planted about a foot or more in sandy soil.
  •   Peak season is April through late June.
  •   In ideal conditions, asparagus can grow 10 inches in 24 hours.
  •   California produces about 70% of the domestic asparagus.  Washington, Michigan, and New Jersey the rest.
  •   China outdoes the world in asparagus production by far, with Peru, and Germany next.  The United States is Fifth.
  •   Originated from the East Mediterranean area. The name Asparagus comes from Greek, meaning sprout or shoot.
  • The ancient Romans were the first to preserve asparagus by freezing, and created the first “how-to-grow directions for it.
  •   Diederik Leertouwer came to New England from the Netherlands in 1784 to promote trade between the states and his homeland. He is the first person to import and grow asparagus in America.
  •   Asparagus has a long history of being a valued and loved vegetable, and was called the “Food of Kings” in the 16th century.
  •   The larger diameter, the better the quality.
  •   White asparagus comes from the same plant as the green asparagus.  When the spears emerge from the ground, the sunlight turns the stalks green.  The get white asparagus, dirt is piled on top of the plants so the stalks can grow underground.  When the tip breaks the surface, it is cut. It is considered one of the most labor intensive vegetables to grow.
  •   Green asparagus is more nutritious than white asparagus, having twice as many nutrients.
  •   Purple asparagus is a genetic variety, but reverts to green when cooked.
  • Asparagus plants exhibit sexual differentiation, with the male plants being more productive and thus commercially grown.
  • Everyone’s pee will smell after digesting asparagus.  The green stalks contain asparagusic acid, among other compounds, that give urine a unique sulfurous odor after digestion.  Though some people have a condition called “specific anosmia”, which genetically gives them the inability to smell certain odors.

For nutritional information:


For some great recipes:





Recipe for…Healthy Culture

by Sheila Contento

Recently a recipe book was published by a variety of leaders, hospitality professionals, and culinary leaders within the Berks County community and abroad.  The book is called, Recipes for Thoughtful Leadership and Healthy Culture and was composed by the founder of FOCUSED, LLC, Bonnie Sussman-Versace.  The book represents a variety of articles written and published by the author focusing on leadership and culture, and the “recipes” to achieve these items.  These articles are then blended with true food recipes from a variety of notable professionals, designed to make your reading experience more flavorful.  “When you nurture, learn, practice and live a healthy culture and thoughtful leadership, the results will be obvious.  Your company will attract the best and finest team members, customers and vendors, as they will all want to part of an ongoing success story”, says the author.

Clearly, the author’s perception of a desirable culture falls very much in line with that which we display here at Meyer Jabara Hotels.  How fitting to have one of Meyer Jabara’s own Executive Chef’s featured not only in this publication, but in the ‘Culture’ section.

Do your taste buds a favor…try this amazingly creative and easy recipe at home!  I promise, you’ll thank me.

Recipes for Thoughtful.jpg


4 bags of 2 oz popcorn

1 qt heavy cream

Shrimp stock



Salt & Pepper


  1. Portion about 2 oz of popcorn sauce in small bowls
  2. Place shrimp on top of sauce
  3. Garnish with kernels of popcorn and micro greens
  4. Combine popcorn and cream in sauce pot, cook at 140 degrees for 30 minutes
  5. Pour into blender and blend – strain through strainer
  6. Return to burner – reduce consistency to coat back of a spoon
  7. Season with kosher salt and black pepper
  8. Poach shrimp in broth of butter, kernels of popcorn and shrimp stock



Wake Up on the Bright Side

by Stacey Pacific

Wake up on the Bright Side!

Eating a nutritious breakfast helps set the tone for your day. It has the power to fuel your brain and body for a healthy, happy and focused day. Here at the Danbury La Quinta Inn and Suites, we offer our guests a complimentary bright-side breakfast. Our breakfast includes scrambled eggs and sausage, a yogurt parfait station, hot and cold cereal, fresh fruit, bagels, coffee and much more. Stay with us and enjoy our personal favorite- the Make Your Own Belgian Waffle Station!


The hardest part of our Belgian Waffle station is thinking how you’re going to “top it” during the two and a half minute cook time. We have every topping you could imagine including chocolate, caramel and strawberry syrups, sliced peaches and bananas, sprinkles, whipped cream, and cherries.

Take the Chill Off


Take The Chill Off is the brainchild of Marc Goldstein and Chef Tim. Marc was looking for a way to get more blankets to people in need. Chef Tim wanted to use his talents to help that effort. Together they created this one day event that takes place at multiple sites around Berks County. Chef Tim makes his award winning chili and 100% of the proceeds go directly to Blankets of Hope. Marc created Blankets of Hope to operate without any overhead. All donated money goes directly to getting blankets to the organizations that need them. Find out what inspires and motivates these two to keep on providing opportunities for all of us to get involved and help others.

2017 Wedding Food Trends

Happy New Year!  We have said good-bye to 2016, but I think some of the past year’s food trends will be here to stay, at least for a while.  Cauliflower made a huge debut served as just about everything from buffalo flavored “wings” to steak, and even shredded cauliflower rice.  2016 also gave us Matcha, coconut oil, and food bowls just to name a few.

Hello 2017!!  The food scene this year is going to be magical!  We are seeing more cultural foods, healthier alternatives, fermented foods, hummus, and my favorite, Purple.  Purple is popping up everywhere from potatoes, beets, cauliflower (of course!) and tortilla chips.  The color purple shows us that these foods may be dense with nutrients and antioxidants.


One of our favorite things to watch in any given year in the hospitality industry are the wedding trends for the year ahead.  Here are a few we liked:

Brinner: Out with Brunch!  Brinner is of course breakfast for dinner.  Think Chicken & Waffles, Pancakes- savory & sweet, Steak & Eggs, or even an Omelet station.


Miniature Anything:  It’s just a bite!  They are easy for guests to handle, and there are so many options from butlered and displayed hors d’oeuvres, dinner stations, and of course desserts such as mini pastries, miniature cupcakes.  Be careful not to go too overboard with this one, it can be very labor intensive for chef.


Stations and DYI :  Not so new, but now they are even more creative, and more fun! 

After Party Snacks: No matter what time your reception ends, your guests will love a snack after all of that dancing and mingling.


There are so many more new trends happening, please share and comment with us!

#2017  #weddings  #Purple  #Brinner #DYI #butleredhorsdoeuvre

#AdmiralFellInn #InnatHendersonsWharf #Pier5


Christmas Mix

by Keith Davis

Just about everyone have holiday traditions, things they do and things they look forward to eat.  One of my foods that I have made for the past 15 years or so is our holiday Christmas mix.  It is a recipe that my sister gave me years ago, and as most chefs do, modified and made it my own.  It has become so much a part of our holiday that I need to save a complete afternoon block of time to make it, since I make a lot of it.  This year, 6 batches.  Yes, 6 batches…. That’s a lot of mix.  But will it be enough?  Every year, I give out my mix to family, friends, & work mates.  And many have been hounding me for weeks now, wanting to know when it will be coming.  Christmas Mix is the politically correct name.  What we REALLY call it is “crack candi”, referring to the idea that once you start eating it, you can’t stop and will be hooked.  I know, I know, not politically correct.  That’s why it’s titled Christmas mix!  But readers know the real truth!



1/2 Box Corn Chex (12 oz. box)

1/2 Box Rice Chex (12 oz. box)

1 1/2 cups Roasted salted Peanuts

1 1/2 cups Roasted salted whole Cashews

3 cups Pretzel twists

1 1/2 cups M&M Peanuts

3 bags Vanilla Flavored Chocolate (can use 2 bags if you prefer less chocolate)

Ø  Mix all dry ingredients together in a large stainless bowl.

Ø  Melt chocolate in a double boiler

Ø  In 4 parts, pour chocolate over dry ingredients and mix to coat ingredients, being careful not to smash /break mix

Ø  Reserve last quarter to drizzle over final mix on a tray.

Ø  Pour mix onto a tray lined with parchment paper.

Ø  Drizzle with chocolate.

Ø  Let rest for at least 2 hours before packaging.









Bounty of Garden Cleanup


My small garden grown in pots; herbs, nasturtiums, peppers, and lettuce.

It was April when I first started my deck garden at home.   Grown in pots, I had a very good and fruitful year, though the extreme hot weather mandated a daily watering if not twice a day.  Now that it’s November, it is time for me to complete the cycle and pick the last of my crop.  I have been lucky with the weather, with few days of October frost, and no hard frosts, so I have had a somewhat extended season.  I have gradually been dwindling down the items in the past few weeks, my eggplant and tomatoes. Now all I really have left to pick is peppers, but a wonderful selection! It’s hard to see in the picture, but what will be left is a planting of fall lettuce that I hope to keep going for a few weeks longer until the freezing temperatures set in.  Also I have a pot of Herbs that I will eventually bring in and try to keep going. 

Clean up is the time to get ready for next year.  Throw away the old broken things and store away the goods things you will use again next season.  For a regular garden, you should add some type of compost, old leaves, and/or manure, and then turn the soil over so these things can break down. A garden is all about the soil, and to keep it healthy and full of nutrients, this is a necessary thing to do if you want a successful growing season next year.

I also keep a log of what I grew, and make sure I write down the things that did really great, and not so great.


A wonderful selection of peppers from my deck garden.   Varieties include :   Carmen Sweet Italian Pepper, BellaFina Orange Baby Bell Pepper, Gypsy Sweet Pepper,        Red Sweet Bell Pepper, Early Jalapeno Hot Pepper, and Pablano/Ancho Hot Pepper.






By Chris S. – Executive Chef, Stamford Marriott

Every October for the last two years my sous chefs and I have been participating in the annual New England ChowdaFest. When the economy tanked in 2008, Jim Keenan a Maine native, created the ChowdaFest competition along a few of his chef friends as a cheap way to help promote their struggling restaurants and help raise money for Charities. Years later, with the support of close to 40 sponsors including Stop and Shop, Farmers Cow, AAA, and Lowes. With every year bigger than the last, this  year had close to 10,000 attendees and in 2015 raised enough money to fund over 400,000 meals.

There are three categories to compete in New England Clam Chowder, Creative Chowder and Soup/Bisque. There is a cap for participants to enter into the category of your choice so first come, first serve. The Stamford Marriott has competed for the last two years in the soup/bisque category.
Last year, our soup was a White Bean-Banana Pepper Bisque with a cilantro-avocado crema. We got mentioned and the recipe seemed to go over well but no medal was taken home. This past October, we took home the Bronze Medal with our Spiced Chocolate Bisque. The idea of chocolate was a home run by itself as nobody was expecting chocolate in a chowder competition. The spice of fresh ginger, star anise, cinnamon, orange peel and a touch of coffee brings it to a whole new level. People were coming up and purchasing quarts to take home.

The recipe is attached and is very delicate given the fresh eggs that need to be tempered and the chocolate of course. Attached is the picture of the trophy that gets presented to the winners and is created using only items found on the beach utilizing sea shells and drift wood.

This is a really cool event, it’s outside, there’s thousands of people, great way to get your name out there and meet people in the business. It’s open to anyone and everyone, the reigning champion for the New England Clam Chowder is Pike Place Chowder out of Seattle Washington. I would recommend getting involved. We always fun and we always meet new people. And we get to stuff ourselves with Chowda!!

Spiced Chocolate Bisque…..

  • 125 ml water
  • 125 ml whole milk
  • 110 g butter
  • pinch salt
  • large pinch sugar
  • 150 g flour
  • 3 x eggs
  • Canola oil for frying
  • Cinnamon sugar for coating
  • 500 ml heavy cream
  • 200 ml whole milk
  • 100 g sugar
  • 1 x vanilla bean, split
  • 1 x star anise
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 3 slices fresh ginger
  • 5 g cocoa powder
  • 3 g instant coffee powder
  • 6 x egg yolks
  • 135 g dark chocolate, chopped

In a medium saucepan, heat the cream, milk, sugar, vanilla bean, star anise, cinnamon, orange zest and fresh ginger. Bring it to a boil. Turn the heat off and let it steep for about 10 minutes. Return the mixture to a boil and add the cocoa powder and instant coffee powder. Whisk well.

Place the egg yolks in a large bowl and temper the milk mixture into them while whisking. Return this mixture to the sauce pan and cook for a couple of minutes while constantly stirring until lightly thickens.

Place the finely chopped chocolate in a large bowl. Place a fine sieve over the bowl and pour the custard over the chocolate. Mix until all the chocolate is melted and you have a smooth cream.

Can be served warm, room temperature or cold. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. It will thicken when it cools.

ChowdaFest 2016
Sherwood State Park
Westport, CT




By Sheila C., Director of Sales – Crowne Plaza Reading

In a month when there is pretty much pumpkin “everything”, let us not forget the silent superstar of the fall – the Apple!  Whether picking at an orchard, taste testing at a farmer stand, or baking your favorite treat – there is something wonderfully sweet about a fall day spent with this tree fruit.

One of our favorite festivals of the year here in Reading happens one October weekend at Historic Joanna Furnace, the Hay Creek Apple Festival.  In addition to being held at a one of a kind location, you can sample some of the most delicious apple treats available including: apple dumplings, apple fritters, apple cider, apple cobbler, apple pie and apple butter.  Mouth watering yet?

Though the Hay Creek Apple Festival has already ended in Reading this year, be sure to mark your calendars for Fall 2017 where you can come see, experience and most importantly TASTE all the great things fall, the Apple and Reading has to offer!

Move over pumpkin, the apple is taking over…