Roxy’s Best Of…Chester, NJ

The Best of Chester, NJ, from kid stuff (including summer camp) to restaurants to shopping


Bad Name, Good Fun: End of Summer Tennis Festival on Saturday, August 15th at Fox Chase Tennis Club in Chester, NJ

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Our friends over at Fox Chase Tennis Club are having an End of Summer Tennis Festival on Saturday, August 15th from 3:00 to 5:00pm.  Only one problem… I don’t intend to even think about the end of summer until Labor Day! Open to “juniors” of all ages and levels, the event will include tennis games, drills, match play, prizes, snacks and drinks… only $40 for lots of fun. Sign up at the front desk or call (908) 879-5231 or (973) 479-1329.
Fox Chase Tennis Club
581 E Main St, Chester, NJ 07930


Fitting a Little Tennis Into Our Summer… Pavan’s Summer Camp at Fox Chase Tennis in Chester, NJ

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I just received an email from Pavan Patel over at Pavan’s Tennis Academy at Fox Chase Tennis with some great news for our family… Due to an overwhelming demand, Fox Chase Tennis Club will have an extended week of summer camp.  This is great news for London on Maddie, since they’re just finishing up at Annie’s Playhouse Summer Stars in Far Hills, NJ, with the big show this Friday, August 7th, and will be able to fit a little tennis into their busy summer schedule after all.  That way, depending on how hard they work at Pavan’s summer tennis camp, both of my girls may be able to start their weekly lessons in September at a more advanced level.

The schedule for the extra week of Pavan’s Tennis Academy summer camp will run Monday, August 24th through Friday, August 28th from 11am to 2pm, at a cost of $330.  Call (908) 879-5231 or (973) 479-1329 to sign up.

Pavan’s Tennis Academy
Fox Chase Tennis Club
581 East Main Street
Chester, NJ 07930
(908) 879-5231 or (973) 479-1329


Birthday Parties… Off to Toys with Love in Chester, NJ

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This morning, as I searched for the phone number for Toys with Love in Chester, NJ, I was surprised to find that I hadn’t posted about the wonderful local toy store here on Roxy’s Best Of… we’ve been going to Toys with Love to find the perfect birthday and Christmas presents since we moved out to the Roxiticus Valley in October 2003, and they have never disappointed us.  One year, Stacy of Toys with Love even built and delivered a huge dollhouse for Maddie’s birthday.  Today, London and Maddie are off with their nanny to pick up three Quiddler card games… two for upcoming birthday parties, and one for our family to enjoy.

Toys with Love is located at 95 West Main Street, Chester, New Jersey 07930
Telephone: 908-879-1380


Pavan’s Tennis Academy Brings QuickStart Team Tennis to Fox Chase Tennis Club in Chester, New Jersey

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We were over at Fox Chase Tennis Club in Chester, NJ, on Saturday morning for London’s make-up lesson in Pavan’s Tennis Academy. Pavan handed me his brand new brochure for QuickStart Team Tennis, starting in January.

The goal of the QuickStart tennis format is to get kids playing as soon as possible – including friendly matches, team play and tournaments. The QuickStart Tennis format works by getting kids into the game immediately. Within the first hour of stepping onto the court, they are actually playing the game, rallying with one another, moving around and having fun. Scaling the game down to their size helps make the learning process easier and a lot more fun.

The majority of youth sports have followed this formula for years. Baseball begins with smaller bats and smaller fields, and progresses from tee ball to coach pitch to player pitch. Basketball and soccer employ similar methods, including shortened playing surfaces and appropriate sized equipment. The shorter and narrower courts used in QuickStart Tennis give kids the confidence and ability to cover the entire court. Kids have trouble controlling full-sized racquets because they are too long, too heavy and the grips are too large. Junior racquets are proportionate in length and weight and have grips that fit smaller hands, making them easier to control. The QuickStart Tennis approach uses balls that bounce at a height equal to kids’ playing abilities, allowing for better and longer rallies and building up to all-court games.

Team Tennis is about turning an individual sport into a team sport. All you have to do is look around at other youth sports to see that kids love playing sports with their friends. Not only is it fun and social, it’s also practical. Team practices keep kids learning, and team matches give them a place to apply the things they’ve learned. So while they’re learning, they’re also having a great time with their friends. Which means they’ll keep coming back.

The cost for Pavan’s QuickStart Team Tennis program is $250 for 8 weeks, with teams for 8 to 10 year olds playing on the following days/times:

  • Monday from 4 to 5pm
  • Wednesday from 5 to 6pm
  • Thursday from 4 to 5pm
  • Friday from 4 to 5pm
  • Saturday from 12 noon to 1pm

QuickStart Tennis… the new way to play tennis for kids 10 and under… Sign up now and join the team!

Pavan’s Tennis Academy at Fox Chase Tennis Club, Chester, NJ. Phone: (908) 879-5231.


Roxy’s Recipes: Grandmom’s Italian Meat Sauce for Pasta… with a Little Help from Louie at the Chester Meat Market in Chester, New Jersey

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Although Rex does almost all of the cooking in our family, and my older sisters like to joke that I’m helpless in the kitchen, the truth is that I just don’t enjoy cooking on a regular basis.  I do have a few favorite recipes that I make from time to time.  One of them is passed along by my mom, who makes the best Italian meat sauce for pasta, but I’ve made enough adjustments to her recipe over the years to call it my own.  I should add that my hairdresser and good friend Madeline confused me for years by referring to Italian meat sauce for pasta as “gravy.”

After a perfect New Year’s Eve at home, including four live Maine lobsters and two bottles of bubbly, Rex and I decided to spend New Year’s Day together in the kitchen. He made two of my favorites for dinner tonight: Rosemary Meat Loaf and Macaroni and Cheese. I’ll be posting those recipes over the next day or so.  With a little help from Rex and Maddie, I made a big pot of…

Grandmom’s Italian Meat Sauce for Pasta


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound hot sausage
  • 1 pound sweet sausage
  • 7 - 8 cloves garlic
  • 3 - 5 onions (3 large or 5 medium)
  • 2 - 4 tablespoons olive oil (enough to cover the bottom of your skillet)
  • Three (3) 28-ounce cans of crushed tomatoes (I like Muir Glen’s Fire Roasted Organic Crushed Tomatoes as well as Red Pack)
  • One 28-ounce can of tomato sauce, plus two 8-ounce cans of tomato sauce
  • One 6-ounce can of tomato paste
  • One packet Lawry’s Extra Rich & Thick Spaghetti Sauce Spices & Seasonings (This is my mother’s secret ingredient; she always made her sauce with Spatini, but they don’t make it any more and Lawry’s is the next best thing.  If you can’t find it in your local store, it’s basically a mix of salt, pepper, oregano, basil, and garlic powder)
  • One packet Lawry’s Original Style Spaghetti Sauce Spices & Seasonings
  • Oregano to taste (I use several teaspoons)
  • Basil to taste (I use several teaspoons)
  • Black pepper to taste (I use about one teaspoon)

To Make the Italian Meat Sauce for Pasta:

  1. Get the sausage out of its casing and separate sausage and ground beef into small pieces.  Maddie likes to roll it into balls, as shown in the photo above.
  2. Mince garlic (Rex did this for me, since he’s much more patient than I am with prep work)
  3. Chop onions (I did this myself, trying to imitate the way my father taught me to chop rapidly, without losing a finger along the way)
  4. Heat olive oil in skillet; add onions and garlic, saute until soft and golden brown.  Many recipes call for browning the meat at the same time as the garlic and onions, but then you’ll lose all the olive oil when you drain off the excess fat from the meat, so I do it in two steps.  Pour the olive oil, onions and garlic into a large stock pot.
  5. Brown ground beef, hot sausage and sweet sausage in skillet.  Pour off excess fat.  Do not pour excess fat down your kitchen sink… see Reissmann Plumbing to the Rescue.  Pour the meat into the large stock pot with the onions and garlic.  Move stock pot onto low heat.
  6. Add crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, Lawry’s seasoning packets, oregano, basil, and pepper.  Simmer for 45 minutes or more, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened to sauce consistency.  I keep the lid on the pot most of the time, then take it off for a while to let some of the liquid evaporate if the sauce is too thin.
  7. Enjoy!  Eat some now and save some for a rainy day… or, in my case, a night when Rex is out of town on business.  Pour over hot pasta, use in lasagna.

Yield:  A lot.  Enough to freeze and serve for months.

If you’re lucky enough to live in Chester, New Jersey, or the greater Roxiticus Valley (Mendham, Bernardsville, Far Hills, Randolph, Chester, Somerset or Morris County, NJ), you can count on Louie at the Chester Meat Market for your sausage and ground beef. It’s true that you can get the meat at your local Shop Rite, but Louie’s is a lot more fun. Chester Meat Market is located at 27 West Main Street, Chester, NJ. Phone: (908) 879-7523. Please don’t forget to tell Louie and the gang that Roxy sent you!

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Rex’s Recipes: Roasted Fresh Ham for a Crowd… with a Little Help from Louie at the Chester Meat Market in Chester, New Jersey

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As my loyal Roxiticus Desperate Housewives and Roxy’s Best Of… readers know, our family always celebrates the holidays twice… one Christmas at my mom’s house, and one Christmas Saturday with Rex’s family gathered here with us in the Roxiticus Valley. Yesterday Rex’s family joined us to celebrate Christmas with a “roasted fresh ham for a crowd” of fifteen guests. Rex found the recipe by Matt Lee and Ted Lee in the New York Times back in April 2006.  If you’re looking for a great holiday meal for New Year’s Eve/Day, I’ve posted the recipe, along with before and after photos, and recommend that you call Louie at the Chester Meat Market right away to order your fresh ham for your upcoming feast.

Roasted Fresh Ham for a Crowd:


  • 1 16-to-18-pound fresh ham from Chester Meat Market
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme (from 14 to 16 stems)
  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half

To Make the Fresh Ham (Pork Roast):

  1. Place a rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 425 degrees.  Trim skin and excess fat from ham, leaving a layer of fat.  Score ham all over in a diamond pattern of 1/2-inch-deep cuts about 1 1/2 inches apart.
  2. In a small bowl, combine salt, pepper and thyme, pinching and sifting mixture until thyme becomes fragrant.  Pat mixture all over ham and into crevices.
  3. Place ham fat-side up on a rack in a large roasting pan and roast uncovered for half an hour.  Turn heat down to 350 degrees, pour 2 cups wine and 1/2 cup water into pan and loosely tent with aluminum foil.  Continue to roast, basting every hour.  Add water to pan, if necessary, to keep pan juices from scorching; bake until a meat thermometer pressed into thickest part of ham reads 155 degrees, about 3 1/2 hours.
  4. Let ham stand 15 to 20 minutes before carving.  Pour pan juices and remaining 2 tablespoons wine into a small saucepan and simmer about 2 minutes.  Turn off flame, add half-and-half, and serve with ham.

Yield:  12 to 14 servings.

If you’re lucky enough to live in Chester, New Jersey, or the greater Roxiticus Valley (Mendham, Bernardsville, Far Hills, Randolph, Chester, Somerset or Morris County), you can count on Louie at the Chester Meat Market for your fresh ham. Chester Meat Market is located at 27 West Main Street, Chester, NJ. Phone: (908) 879-7523. Please don’t forget to tell Louie and the gang that Roxy sent you!


Christmas Crisis in Roxy’s Kitchen Sink: Reissmann Plumbing to the Rescue

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What is it about the holidays that always seems to bring plumbing problems to our home?  Over the past five years since we’ve lived here in Mendham Township, New Jersey, we’ve had the following holiday plumbing incidents:

  • Thanksgiving 2003:  Backed up toilet in the half bath off the kitchen
  • Thanksgiving 2004:  Broken washing machine
  • Christmas 2005:  Broken hot water heater spewing water all over the basement floor
  • Christmas 2008:  Kitchen sink clog spewing water all over the kitchen floor

It’s not every year that we have a plumbing problem, but whenever we do, it’s Reissmann to the rescue!  This morning, I found Rex standing at the kitchen sink with a plunger, and knew we were in trouble.  I suspect that he dumped the excess fat from our Christmas prime rib down the drain, but whatever it was, we have one serious clog.  After trying a “blast” of Liquid Plumber and one of us on each side of the double sink with a plunger, we ended up with water spewing out from the pipes down below.  “Call Reissmann!” Rex cried, and I reached for the phone.  Five hours later, Scott was here to repair the damage… which turned out to be a huge plug of solidified fat the size of a giant champagne cork.

Thanks, Reissmann Plumbing, for saving our holidays!

Reissmann Plumbing. Phone: (908) 879-5530 and don’t forget to tell ‘em Roxy sent you!  Click here to get a money saving coupon… Reissmann Plumbing will MAIL you the coupon, so get one now before your holiday plumbing crisis.  They also have a Frequent Plumber Card for people like me… after five validated visits, I’ll have an hour of free labor on my next call.


Holiday Traditions: London and Maddie Choose and Decorate Our Christmas Tree from Alstede Farms in Chester, New Jersey

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While Erik and his band of merry Santas, Mrs. Clauses and Elves were on the Santa Rampage in Austin, Texas yesterday, our family continued a quieter holiday tradition here in the Roxiticus Valley, New Jersey.

London, Maddie, Rex and I headed over to Alstede Farms in Chester, New Jersey to pick out a fresh cut eight to nine foot Christmas tree.  We chose a Concolor Fir, a soft green tree with medium needles and good retention.  Alstede Farms describes the frangrance as that of citrus, and after a day in our home, it’s beginning to smell a lot like Christmas… a great aroma of pine needles and citrus.  All we’re missing are the Christmas cookies, and the girls and I may get to baking tonight.

It always feels like our family is among the last to decorate our Christmas tree, but if you don’t have one yet, Roxy highly recommends the Alstede Farms Christmas tree experience.

Alstede Farms, 84 County Route 513 South (Old Route 24), Chester, NJ.  Phone:  (908) 879-7189.


Not Too Late to Get a Flu Shot at MinuteClinic, CVS in Chester, New Jersey

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Whether I’m surfing the blogosphere or catching up with friends and family in New Jersey, I’ve been hearing a lot about bad colds and the flu.  Just in the past couple of years, Rex and I have become diligent about taking London and Maddie for flu shots, and being good role models by protecting ourselves from the flu as well.  Since London suffers from asthma, primarily triggered by the cold virus, her pediatrician has advised us to be sure she gets a flu shot every year.

Last year, Rex and I got our flu shots from Dr. Glenn Davis at Chester Medical Associates, and we made two special trips to Dr. Eric Yorke at Somerset Pediatric Group in Bedminster wih London and Maddie (kids’ first ever flu shot needs to be followed up with a booster).  This year, however, Rex and I happened to be waiting to pick up a prescription at CVS in Chester, NJ, when we noticed the MinuteClinic.  We used the computer to fill out a short form, the nurse called us in, and within minutes, Rex and I were inoculated.  It was so simple that we brought London and Maddie back with us to the MinuteClinic at Chester CVS a few weeks later.  The nurse processed the insurance paperwork for us, and it was all included under our Oxford health care policy.  I’ll feel better knowing our whole family is protected from the flu this season.

You probaby don’t need to live in Chester, New Jersey, to get a flu shot at the CVS MinuteClinic.  Go to or call 1-866-389-2727 to find one near you.  Open 7 days a week.  No appointment necessary.  Most insurance accepted.


Roxy’s Got Ten Bucks to Spend on Holiday Shopping in Chester, New Jersey

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It’s not even time for Thanksgiving yet, but I feel like Santa Claus just stopped by and stuffed my stocking… in today’s mail, I received a $10 gift from the Historic Chester Business Association to use for local holiday shopping.  I just bring the postcard in to one of the select Chester, NJ stores between now and December 24th and I’ll save ten bucks on a purchase of $30 or more.

Downtown Chester is gearing up for the holiday shopping season with a full slate of upcoming events:

  • Chester’s Holiday Lighting Celebration on Saturday, November 29th.  Holiday lights come to downtown Chester compliments of the Historic Chester Business Association.  Shop in a winter wonderland of illuminated snowflakes and colorful banners.  Enjoy strolling carolers, free horse and carriage rides, clowns and great shopping and dining in the classic Chester Holiday tradition. Elvis The Elf will be in town from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.
  • Holiday Shopping with Strolling Carolers.  Sunday, November 30th; Saturday, December 6th; Sunday, December 7th; Saturday, December 20th.
  • Holiday Shopping with Strolling Carolers and Free Horse and Buggy Rides.  Saturday, December 13th.
  • Holiday Shopping with Strolling Carolers and Elvis the Elf.  Sunday, December 14th.
  • Holiday Shopping with Strolling Carolers, Free Horse and Buggy Rides, and Elvis the Elf.  Sunday, December 21st.

I don’t think I’ve ever been on a horse and buggy ride, and London and Maddie love horses (despite London’s allergies), so we’ll try to do our holiday shopping in downtown Chester on December 13th or 21st.  I’ll be the blonde with the Canon Digital Rebel and the two dancing girls.  We’ll hope to see you there!