Helping Hands: Monkey Helpers Festivale Is Here!

It is truly my honor and privilege to work with this fantastic organization. Helping Hands: Monkey Helpers for the Disabled raises, trains, and carefully places capuchin monkeys to be service animals or “helpers” for adults living with physical disabilities. We’re going to talk about some of my food and beverage recipes in a moment, but first, let me tell you about this great annual fund raising event–Festivale–coming on October 25th.
For all the details go to:

And speaking of food!…they have organized 15 of Boston’s finest restaurants (Mistral, Rialto, Ostra, Basho to name a few!) to offer tastings all night. PLUS Ketel One is providing an open martini bar (that could get interesting!) and there will be other specialty cocktails, wine and beer throughout the evening. Live music and a very robust silent auction complete the night. Sounds like great fun to me. For the first time at this event, Monkey Helpers are going LIVE with their silent auction. Even if you cannot attend the event, beginning October 6 you can bid online for the prize(s) you want–just go to the web address above for details. Prizes include things like Walt Disney World Theme Park passes; luxurious hotel stays throughout the country, such as 3 nights at The Atlantis Casino Resort & Spa in Reno, NV; very fancy His/Her Swiss made watches, and other jewelry; and one-of-a-kind items like an autographed photo and feather from ‘Big Bird’ donated by Big Bird himself!–I am not kidding. Really looking forward to this event myself. It’s being held this year at WGBH Studios which makes for an interesting venue. Hope to see you there, but if you can’t make it in person, check out the website to see how to bid online for auction prizes. You will be competing with bidders all over the world! Thank you for allowing me to share this wonderful organization with you which has become such an important part of my life!

My good friend, Dennis, drinkologist extradinaire
mixing a very special Mint Mojito!

Most of you have probably had a Mint Mojito, but problem is most of them are not good…either too sweet or just not enough mint or rum or not sure what, but on this occasion we seemed to come up with the perfect balance of sweet, rum, mint and Mojo! The trick is to keep tasting to make sure you’ve got it right! Cuba is where the Mint Mojito was born and the proper mix of rum, limes, sugar and sparkling water is essential. You may know that Ernest Hemingway helped make this drink famous, which means he drank a lot of them. Here are the basic ingredients:

2 scant tsp. sugar
8 mint leaves (or more)
Club soda
1 lime/havled
2 oz. Light Rum
Mint for garnish

Put sugar, mint leaves (you don’t need to measure precisely-the more mint the better), and the squeezed juice and lime halves into a shaker. Muddle well with a muddler or back of a spoon to dissolve the sugar and to release the mint flavor. Add the rum. Stir very well. Fill a glass with ice cubes. Strain the contents of the shaker into a glass. Top with soda water and add a sprig of mint. Taste and adjust for more lime or soda water.

Diana is the official “taster” to make sure her husband is mixing correctly!

The mint mojitos were very good, but the cocktail hit was…

This delicious drink was created in 1971 by the owners of the Soggy Dollar Bar located in White Bay on the island of Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands. This is right next door to Virgin Gorda where my husband and I spent 2 glorious weeks (remember the Chicken Foot Soup?!) last November. They make Pain Killers on Virgin Gorda, too!
2 oz. dark rum
1 oz. Coco Lopez or cream of coconut
4 oz. pineapple juice
1 1/2 oz. orange juice
Blend the juices and Coco Lopez and pour over ice in a tall glass. Add rum and a spinkle of grated nutmeg. Garnish with orange slices, pineapple and or a maraschino cherry.
This luscious cake is rich, moist and filled with flavor! I made it the night before our dinner so the fruit had a chance to blend together beautifully. My Dad used to love making pineapple-upside down cake. It was his signature dessert and he always made it for me when I came home to visit or for special occasions.
Dad made his Pineapple Upside-Down Cake in a square pan.
Upside-down cakes are classically made in a cast-iron skillet because it conducts heat so well and gives the cake a crisp edge, cooks evenly and keeps it moist. I did not use my cast iron skillet as I make so many savory meals in it I thought my cake would come out tasting like garlic. Instead, I used a heavy, large glass cake pan and it worked very well. No danger of this cake being dry!
2 Tbsp. butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 (15 1/2 oz.) can pineapple slices in juice, UNdrained
1 cup flaked sweet coconut
1 cup all-purpose white flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. bakig soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup mashed ripe banana-about 1 good-sized banana
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 large egg


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt butter in a heavy cast iron skillet is you are using or melt and add to your cake pan. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Drain pineapple slices over a bowl, reserving 1/2 cup juice. Place 1 pineapple ring in center of skillet or pan. Cut remaining pineapple rings in half; arrange around center pineapple ring. Sprinkle evenly with coconut. Set aside.
Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl. Combine reserved juice, banana, oil, and egg, stirring with a whisk. Add pineapple juice mixture to flour mixture stirring until combined. Pour flour mixture over coconut.
Bake at 375 for 30 minutes or until wooden pick inserted comes out clean. Invert onto a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temp. I made it the night before and left on counter overnight. This cake is so easy and a real WOW!

I guess you know by now that I LOVE to cook.
It makes me very happy to share my passion with you.
‘Cook With Cindy’ just reached over 10,000 views!
Thank you for taking a look and please keep having fun in your own kitchens throughout the world!
Thanks also for checking out the Helping Hands: Monkey Helpers for the Disabled Festivale site:

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