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'Real Housewives of New Jersey' star Teresa Giudice promotes Fabellini, meets fans in Westfield at Gallery U Boutique 

Teresa Giudice with Gallery U Boutique owner Lisa Lasso and Robert Grecco, direcor of programming for Universal Institute (Photo by Kimberly L. Jackson)“Real Housewives of New Jersey” star Teresa Giudice was in Westfield yesterday evening, chatting and posing for photos with about 100 fans who lined up at Gallery U Boutique awaiting the appearance of the table-turning TV mom from Montville.


Giudace stepped out of a White Mercedes SUV a little more than 30 minutes after the event's scheduled 6 p.m. start. And in an ultimate feat of womanliness, Giudace stood for about an hour and a half in platform stilleto sandals that were high enough to give her a bit of trouble crossing the street to the boutique from a nearby parking area. 


Wearing a breezy ruffled jumpsuit in a subtle gray and black snakeskin print, a trim Giudice sat only to sign the occasional autograph, including one in a copy of one of her four cookbooks. But Giudice was on her feet to sign bottles of her Fabellini prosecco, among the imported foods, desserts and hair products under her imprint.


The Fabellini infused peach and raspberry flavors flowed into polycarbonate champagne flutes through the night, and Giudice, who was promoting the sparkling wine, held a bottle most of the evening, managing to get it into every photo.


What wasn't as obvious to guests is that Giudice's appearance helped celebrate the one-year anniversary of a boutique that helps raise funding to provide support, therapy and jobs for people with traumatic brain injuries.


Gallery U Boutique is a fully functioning art gallery and studio space, offering the work of artists from New Jersey and around the country. Some of the pieces – assemblage sculptures, photographs, paintings and more – are the work of those receiving art therapy through the gallery's endeavors. Gallery U Boutique holds monthly group art exhibits and receptions as well as performances of music and poetry. The boutique also draws shoppers with collections by Alexis Bittar, Stephanie Johnson, Pomeroy Collection, Shiraleah, Roost and many others.


Owner Lisa Lasso, who was on hand for gallery's anniversary event, said she brought Giudice in to help draw attention to the gallery's mission.


A display at Gallery U Boutique in Westfield features an elaborately embellished angel and a sparkling bust created through a related art therapy program for people with traumatic brain injury.

Gallery U Boutique is an extension of Universal Institute, a Livingston-based rehabilitation facility that serves adults with a serious brain injury that may have resulted from accidents such as car crashes or falls, or medical emergencies such as strokes. Representatives from the Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey also were on hand to help raise awareness and accept donations.


The boutique, at 439 South Ave., is steps from the Westfield train station, but organizers noted another reality-TV-connected draw to the town when directing visitors from outside the area to the event. Carlo's Bakery, one in a growing chain owned by fellow New Jersey reality TV star “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro is a short walk away on Broad Street. A spread of miniature cannolis, tiramisu, cookies and other Italian-style treats was not from Carlo's Bakery or from Giudice's dessert line, however.


As guests dropped $20 bills for the Brain Injury Alliance into a large transparent cube, the evening presented an opportunity for Giudice to do a small act of public good, even if the affair was promoted through social media as “a Fabellini event.” Giudice and her husband, Giuseppe 'Joe' Giudice, admitted in March that they fraudulently obtained millions in loans to help fund their lavish lifestyle. They are expected to be sentenced Sept. 23.


Learn more about Gallery U Boutique at



Find farmers markets in New Jersey and nationwide with USDA  directory

Scotch Plains Farmers Market, open 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays in the town parking lot at 430 Park Ave., has produce, flowers, cheese, prepared food and more.

Farmers markets can offer the freshest of both familiar and less familiar types of seasonal produce.

If you love your fruits and veggies as much as we do, check out the USDA's farm-market finder,  the Farmers Market Directory.

At, there are lots of statistics and farmer-centeric details like the total number of registered farm markets and the states with the highest number. But most of us will just want to find farm markets -- say, one that will have Jersey Fresh tomatoes, peaches and local honey. The nationwide database lets you search for markets by ZIP code within a specified radius.

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2014 New Jersey blueberry festivals and farms to pick your own 

Photo by Jim ClarkThe 100th birthday of New Jersey's official state fruit is two years away in 2016, but they've been celebrating since 2011 in Whitesbog Village, where the first cultivated blueberry was developed.

And during New Jersey's peak blueberry season in late June, blueberry lovers have at least two opportunities to join the celebration with blueberry festivals in Burlington and Atlantic counties, where most of the state's blueberries are grown.

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Reduced-fat cheesecake recipe: Hass avocado cheesecake bites updated 

Avocado cheesecake bites have a shortbread cookie and pistachio crust. Click on the image to get the original recipe from the Hass Avocado Board.The recipe for Avocado Cheesecake Bites with Pistachio-Shortbread Crust is an indulgent one using whipping cream, a full pound of cream cheese and full-fat yogurt.

It is easy to lighten the Hass Avocado Board recipe without losing the creamy satisfying flavor. Simply switch to non-fat or reduced-fat dairy products.  For an even lighter cheesecake treat, use traditional graham crackers in place of shortbread for the crust. We like the novelty of a cookie crust, however, and used Pepperidge Farm's Chessmen cookies. They are lower in fat and calories than the Walker's shortbread used in the original recipe. 

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