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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A-Z Challenge- Letter Z is for ZEPPOLE!

YAY! We made it. I can't believe it.  For my very last A-Z post and letter Z recipe, I chose one of my all time favorite Italian fun desserts to eat- zeppole! Almost every pizza place you walk into in New Jersey, has zeppole on their menu. The only problem with that is, I'm a bit of a zeppole snob. I blame it on my G-ma. She makes the BEST fresh zeppole in the world. I am gifting you all with her recipe.

Grandma spoils just about everything Italian for me to order out, because nothing ever tastes quite as good as her Italian food. G'ma's favorite ingredient is love. Everything single thing she makes, just  tastes better. There is no comparison to that, LOL.
My Grandma and Grandpa! Aren't they cute?
Thanks so much to all of the support, and new followers and wonderful comments. Big thanks to Miss Faraway Eyes for highlighting me on her blog and to Alex J. Cavanaugh for commenting every single day! It always makes me smile when I hear my phone notify me of comments! Thanks so much everyone. 


2 yeast packets
2 cups warm water
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp. oil
4 cups of flour
A heaping cup of LOVE

Mix in one cup of the flour at a time into the first four ingredients. Let rise 1/2 hour to an hour.  Take about 2 oz with fingers and drop into oil in deep fryer until golden. (use the recommended amount of oil the deep fryer suggests) Remove with slotted spoon. Place on paper towels and try to keep grandchildren's hands off zeppoles while they are still so hot. While zeppole are still hot, sprinkle with powdered sugar or my favorite trick- place zeppole in individual paper bags filled with powered sugar, so each grandchild can shake their own without burning their fingers! Then, mangia...(eat)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A-Z Challenge Letter Y is for Yummy Recipe

Not sure if you could tell from yesterday's brief post, but it was the first day of NJ ASK testing and my brain was a bit fried. Sorry about that. Today, I am back in full force with another yummy, yummy Greek recipe for you. I  already posted about the Athenian Cheesecake I made for my Ancient History class. But did I happen to mention what else I made for my GATE classmates and teachers while we were studying Ancient Greece? I made spanakopita, or spinach pie. This recipe may not be as ancient as the cheesecake, but it's full of feta and spinach and phyllo dough and overall yummy, gooey, goodness. Hope you like it!!

  • 2 lb. fresh spinach, washed, dried, trimmed, and coarsely chopped
  • 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 bunch scallions (about 3 oz. or 10 small), white and light-green parts only, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 2 cups crumbled feta cheese (10 oz.)
  • 1/2 cup finely grated parm cheese
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil for brushing; more as needed
  • Eighteen 9x14-inch sheets frozen phyllo dough (I used Athens brand), thawed and at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. whole milk
To make the filling: Heat a deep saute pan over medium-high heat. Add a few large handfuls of the spinach and cook, tossing gently. As the spinach starts to wilt, add the rest a few handfuls at a time. Cook until all the spinach is wilted and bright green, roughly 4 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the spinach to a colander set in the sink. Let cool slightly and squeeze with your hands to extract as much of the remaining liquid as you can.Wipe the pan dry with a paper towel. Heat the oil in the pan over medium heat. Add the scallions and cook  about 4 minutes or until soft. Stir in the spinach, turn off the heat, and let cool for 5 minutes. Then stir in the cheeses, eggs, dill, parsley, nutmeg, and 1/2 tsp. salt and mix thoroughly.

TO ASSEMBLE: With a pastry brush, lightly coat the bottom and sides of a 9x13 baking pan with some of the oil. YOU MUST work quickly! I can't emphasize that enough. Have everything you need right at your fingertips, so it goes easy and quick for you. Now, lightly oil one side of a phyllo sheet and lay it in the pan oiled side up and off center so that it partially covers the bottom and reaches halfway up one long side of the pan (the edge on the bottom of the pan will be about 1 inch from the side). Lightly oil the top of another phyllo sheet and lay it oiled side up and off center so it reaches halfway up the other long side of the pan. (If your pan has sloped sides, the sheets may be slightly longer than the bottom of the pan; if so, let the excess go up one short side of the pan and then alternate with subsequent sheets.) Repeat this pattern with 4 more phyllo sheets.Next, lightly oil the tops of 3 phyllo sheets and layer them oiled side up and centered in the pan. Spread the filling evenly over the last layer. Repeat the oiling and layering of the remaining 9 phyllo sheets over the filling in the same way you layered the previous 9. With the oiled bristles of the pastry brush, push the edges of the phyllo down around the sides of the pan to enclose the filling completely. With a sharp knife, score the top phyllo layer into 24 rectangles, being careful not to cut all the way through to the filling. Using the same pastry brush, brush the milk along all the score marks (this will keep the phyllo from flaking up along the edges of the squares). Bake the spanakopita at 375 degrees until the top crust is golden brown, 35 to 45 minutes. Let cool until just warm. Cut out the rectangles carefully along the score marks and serve.
My first attempt at this did not come out exactly "perfect" (but it sure tasted  good)
My second attempt went way better as I found my pace and rhythm. I was able to bang the pie out with much less difficulty, once I got used to working with the phyllo dough. 
**Faith's A Foodie Tips:  Although I do my very best to keep most of the recipes here quick and easy, this recipe is not one of them. Mainly because working with phyllo dough can be a bit of a pain and  more difficult because it dries out really fast and gets brittle when it's exposed to air. You must work very quickly to get this done. It helps me to have everything I need, right on hand and to keep a clean, clear work station while assembling. That makes a world of difference. FYI- you can choose to serve this spinach pie warm or at room temperature, which is the traditional way of serving. I happen prefer mine warm. Also, it helps to bake this pie more evenly if you position your rack in the center of the oven. Enjoy!

Monday, April 28, 2014

A-Z Letter X is for X Marks the Spot

Can't believe we only have three days left! Today's letter is letter X. X is for X marks the spot.

X marks the spot for Italy. Today is a quick one  I really want to go to Italy. But my parents said we can go when I turn 16. Ughh ... I bet that I could persuade them to let us go a little earlier. Anyway, I want to tour all around Italy. Eating my way all around. I would consume everything from gelato to freshly made Italian bread.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

A-Z Challenge Letter W is for WING DIP

Good Morning Everyone! My W is for Wing Dip. 

This dip is delicious and quite addictive! It's great for parties, events or just any time you are craving wings but don't want to deal with all the fuss and mess. Be warned- if you bring this dip to someones house for a party-(1) you will become an instant rock star. (2) From now all this is all everyone will ask you to bring with you! It's that amazing.

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups cooked and shredded chicken breast (just shred with the tines on your fork moving back and forth over the chicken)
1 cup Marie's Blue Cheese Dressing
½ cup of Louisiana Hot Sauce
1 brick of Philadelphia Cream Cheese

Soften the cream cheese. In medium size bowl, add all ingredients except chicken. Mix well. After shredding, add the chicken. Mix well (make sure you mix enough that there are no longer clumps of cream cheese)

Evenly spread the mixture into a 9x9 baking dish. Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 15 minutes, or until bubbling. I like to give it a good stir about half way through.

*Faith's A Foodie Tips: This wing dip is something I make ALL the time. Trust me when I tell you that if you substitute any name brands, and don't use Marie's Blue Cheese, or Louisiana Hot Sauce, this does not taste as good. Also, if you don't take the time to really shred the chicken, the texture will be weird and not good. And last but not least, the BEST chip to use to eat this dip- Frito Lays Scoops!! It has to be scoops. They are the only chip hearty enough to not snap when picking up this heavy dip.


Friday, April 25, 2014

A-Z Challenge letter U is for Under Done & V is for Venison Stew

Today I want to combine my letters U & V. Let's start with letter U. Under done...It is easy to make food under done. Then again, it is very easy to overcook food. When I cook I always try to keep track of how long I have the food cooking.  But I always get distracted and time slips away from me. So I almost always end up winging it. (Sometimes I can tell just by the smell of something baking that it is done.)  Lucky for me, 95% of the time I don't have to put my food back in the oven or on the stove.  

If you are the kind of person that can't eyeball things, I would just buy a good timer and follow the recipe. Those are two things I always fail to do when cooking. But the result of not using a timer is not properly cooked food.  Eventually I will mess up bad then maybe I will finally learn to use instructions!

Letter V- V is for Venison Stew. Around where I live, deer hunting is very popular. Hunters are always looking for new and different ways to prepare venison. I have never prepared this particular recipe for stew before. But I desperately needed a "V" and this recipe came highly recommended. I am sure if you do not have venison on hand, or are opposed to utilizing it, it could be exchanged for another protein. 

Faith's A Foodie Quick Tip for cooking venison: try to remember cooking venison can be a little tricky- it is tough and has a tendency to dry out in a pan much more quickly than other proteins, such as beef. 

2 lbs of cubed venison
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tbs of sugar
3 tablespoons of flour
2 cans beef broth
1/2 cup of red wine
3 tablespoons tomato paste
24 small white onions
1 lb small carrots
1 lb potatoes, cubed
1 lb white turnips, cubed
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste

Brown meat in olive oil.  Add sugar and stir until caramelized. Stir in flour until meat is well coated.  Add broth, wine, tomato paste and seasonings.  Stir until blended and smooth.  Add vegetables and simmer 2-3 hours on low heat.  Remove the bay leaf before serving.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A-Z Challenge Letter T for Totally Amazing Puerto Rican Food

When we were down in Florida, my family and I went to the most amazing Puerto Rican restaurant. I LOVE Puerto Rican food and this place was the best I have ever eaten at. If you are ever down in Orlando, Florida and you are craving some yummy PR food, go visit, "Made in Puerto Rico".

Me and my family at Made in Puerto Rico, minus Dad cause he's behind the camera :)
First of all, they had the door and windows open (which is how I discovered this place) and the most delicious smell was wafting out at me before I even walked inside! I followed my nose to the end of a strip mall, and found this place!! When you enter the restaurant the atmosphere is crazy cool. It is a large space, with huge murals on the walls that look just like San Juan. It is vibrant and bright and the servers all wear traditional outfits. I could have just sat there and stared at the art on the walls for hours, taking it all in.  But we were hungry.

This was the sampler app- we loved every single thing on it. 
We told Hector, the manager, we wanted to sample a little bit of everything. And that's just what we did. We started with a sample platter that was truly amazing. Man are the portions generous!  Even the kids meals (which my little sister ordered) were ample and large.  I can't even remember everything we sampled or all of the names of what we did eat on that sampler are, all I know is this: there wasn't one thing we didn't like nor were we disappointed with anything. My only wish is that this restaurant was closer to my house so I could go there at least once a week!

This was Dad's pork chop! It tasted amazzinng!!

For pork lovers, I would recommend what my Dad ordered, it's called Momma's Kan Kan. It was a ginormous pork chop over rice and beans. I ordered the grilled skirt steak with red beans and rice. It was absolutely delicious. I ate every bite. My mom ordered the plantains and they were fantastic. (She spent a lot of time down in Puerto Rico and she went on and on about how authentic and amazing this place was). But the one thing I will be dreaming about for quite some time (my mouth is watering now just thinking about it) was desert! We had the cheese flan with guava and white goat cheese. OH MY WORD. It was ridiculous!! It melted in your mouth.
My skirt steak- delicious!!

Mom's plantains

Oh my word, best PR desert ever! Flan with guava and goat cheese with a caramel drizzle YUM

Overall, it was a good thing we had a lot of walking to do the rest of the day, because I was full to the max. It's funny, out of all the "fancy" restaurants I ate in all week in the Orlando/Disney area, my family and I all said the same thing- our favorite meal  of our entire vacation, hands down, was eaten at Made In Puerto Rico!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A-Z Letter S is for Super Surf and Turf

Today's letter is S for (Sorry) this is so late, and Super Surf and Turf! I am sorry this is late but I am back in school and have a ton of homework again. Ugh. Vacation is definitely over! Anyways, let's talk about what I love: a super surf and turf combo.

My preferred surf and turf combo is steak and scallops. I can always go for a big, juicy medium rare steak and a bunch of perfectly seared sea scallops. Yeah, this post probably isn't for my vegetarian bloggers out there!
This is the best surf and turf meal I've ever eaten.
It was prepared by my favorite culinary hero/chef, Carl Messick.
You can eat his amazing food at The Peter Shields Inn & Restaurant in Cape May, New Jersey

I always pair my steaks with a big portion of some form of potato.  Usually with steak it's a nice mash.  With my scallops I usually do a pasta or something lighter like a corn succotash. No matter what kind of meal I want, there is always a carb, some veggies, and a protein involved.

I always order the steak or scallops when I go to the Peter Shields.  When paired together, it is a magical combination! What's your favorite surf and turf meal?

Monday, April 21, 2014

A-Z Letter R is for Rellenos

Chiles Rellenos is one of my favorite things to eat; but it can be a giant pain to make. If you haven't already sensed a pattern here, quick and easy dinners are my thing. This dish is great to make a day a head of time, when you  know you won't have the opportunity to make dinner the next day. Bottom line; I won't allow my lack of time to sacrifice taste. This is a recipe that I feel is an awesome compromise: chiles rellenos casserole. Oh man, do we scarf this one up like crazy. There are NEVER any left overs.

Before baking it should look like the picture above; after the picture below. Sorry it's a little blurry!
12 ounce can of green chiles (without seeds) *Where we live it is very hard to find fresh whole chiles-if you can find them, use them.
1 lb of Monterey Jack cheese grated
2 eggs
1 cup of milk
4 tbsp of flour
1-8 oz can of tomato sauce
2 tsp butter

Layer chiles with 3/4 lb of the cheese in a 9 x 13 casserole dish. Sprinkle with butter. Beat eggs, milk and flour together and pour over chiles. Cover and refrigerate over night. About 1 1/2 hours before serving, remove from the refrigerator and bring up to room temp. Bake uncovered in 350 degree oven for 1 hour. Remove from oven and spread on tomato sauce and cheese. Return to oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes.  Yields 8 servings. (Or one serving for my Dad. LOL)

Please excuse the sloppy plating;  I was rushing to get this done. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

A-Z Letter Q is for Quail Eggs

Q is for Quail eggs. More and more people are using quail eggs.  Chefs are using them in their restaurants, people are buying them and I am also seeing them on TV shows.  A question of mine is where do you get these miniature eggs? Maybe in an expensive specialty store which is no where near my house? Tell me your opinion on those cute little eggs. Would you eat them or are they too far out from a chicken egg for you? Also, another "egg" I have frequently been seeing- is the gummy fried egg! I saw them a couple of times of different cooking shows, and I recently saw them in a store when I was out of my home state. I had to pick them up. Not sure what the heck I'm going to do with them yet, but I had to buy them! LOL Have you ever encountered gummy fried or quail eggs? What do you think about them?

Friday, April 18, 2014

P is for Parmesan Cheese

I absolutely love parm cheese! I eat it on everything. Cheese in general is amazing. But when you put it on something like pasta you get a mouth explosion. Yes, I am obsessed with parmesan cheese. This is a quick one today. I have to run, but I will be back tomorrow for letter Q!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A-Z Challenge Letter O for Oh no you didn't Olive Garden!

A-Z Challenge- Letter O. Last night I went out to eat at the Olive Garden. It was not a pleasant experience. We only went there because my cousin Kyle is obsessed with the Mozzarella Fonduta. We were a party of eight, it was 6:00 p.m. and the place was packed.  They seated us relatively quick (within 20 minutes). Which was a good thing because we were hungry! That was the last thing they did right.

I ordered the steak gorgonzola alfredo and so did my dad. When my order came out, even though I asked for my steak well done, it was rare. Not just a little rare either; it looked like tartare!  So my dad gave me his meal and waited for them to send him another. When the next order came out, guess what? It was also RAW. It happened three times! Three times is way too many for steak to be sent out raw. Chef Ramsey would have jumped down their throats and cussed them out for sure. I know mistakes happen, but come on? I was ready to run back into the kitchen and make my dad a steak the way he wanted it, and I'm 12!!

My poor Aunt ordered this chicken and shrimp dish which she has had many times before, and it came out so spicy hot she couldn't eat it. When she's eaten it before it has never has been so hot. We think the chef had an accident with the crushed red pepper. It's only supposed to be a "shake". Instead, he dumped about a cup on the plate. We hate to send food back, and we already had to do it three times! My Aunt Shell decided to ask for more Parmesan cheese and some plain marinara sauce to pour over top instead. She thought that might help and she could try and finish her dish. Ultimately, she couldn't enjoy any of it because it was just too hot.  We thought that this would be the end of the screw ups, but it wasn't! Because my cousin only eats a few things, we specially ordered more of the mozzarella fonduta for him (to go). We should have checked the bag, because when we got home, there  was no fonduta to be found!! We had to drive all the way back to the stupid Olive Garden and get the right order. OY VEY!!

The manager came out, to personally apologize to us, because of all the screw ups that happened. It  was not the best showing for Olive Garden, that's for sure.  What was the worst restaurant screw up that has happened to you?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A-Z Letter N is for Nobu

Today my  letter N will be for Nobu. In case you have never heard of him before, his real name is  Nobuyuki "Nobu" Matsuhisa. He is a celebrity chef and restaurateur famous for his fusion cuisine. His signature dish is a black cod fish in miso. He is one of those amazing chefs who has reached one name fame!  What I admire most about Nobu, is his perfectionism. I can get behind that 100%.  To me, perfectionism in the kitchen=success. Have any of you ever eaten at one of his restaurants? Do you enjoy fusion cuisine?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

L is for Late and M is for Meat Sauce

Hey All- I'm sorry that I did not get to blog yesterday.  I  have been very busy and it has been hard to make time for  my blog.  Especially with school and Easter just around the corner.  My family and I have lots of menu planning and cooking to do.  So I am sorry to all my fellow bloggers that I am late with my letter L. I'm swamped this week! Please forgive me. Today I'm back with the letter M.  M is for my meat sauce.

This meat sauce is great for everything. My family uses it in everything from our lasagna to just dipping a nice slice of Italian bread in it.  Here's the recipe!

1 pound ground beef
3 cans tomato sauce
1 can  tomato paste
1 can diced tomato
1 can puree
1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning (to taste)
1 tsp of oregano, basil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, garlic salt, onion powder and one bay leaf
1 yellow onion diced
3 cloves of  garlic diced
1 tsp of extra-virgin olive oil

Saute the onion and garlic first, then leave it in pan. Brown the chop meat in same pan, drain the grease. Meanwhile, place all other ingredients in large pot on the stove and simmer. As soon as the meat mixture is drained, add it to the sauce. Simmer for at least an hour. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A-Z Letter K is for Killer Chops

K is for Killer Chops! Pork chops, like chicken, is always getting cooked in our house. This version is Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops which is my favorite way to eat them. Try this recipe out and see for yourself how yummy they are!

6 (1 inch thick) pork chops
salt and fresh pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 tablespoons Dijon mustard (you need just enough to coat the chops)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan Romano cheese (spring for the good stuff it makes a huge difference)

Preheat your oven to 350. Season the pork chops on both  sides with salt and pepper.  Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Sear the chops on both sides for about 3 minutes each. (Make sure your oil is up to temperature first; take a little drop of water, if it sizzles when dropped into the skillet, your oil is ready)

Coat the tops of the pork chops with the Dijon Mustard and then the grated cheese. Place the pork chops on a sheet pan and finish cooking in the oven for about 10-12 minutes more. Be careful to keep an eye on them so as not to overcook.  Enjoy.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Letter J is for Jalapeno Popper Spread

A-Z Challenge day 10, letter J. J is for Jalapeno Popper Spread. This is a great dip to whip up on game day. It's easy and quick and goes further than Jalapeno Poppers. I prefer to slather it on slices of hot, crusty Italian bread, but you can serve it with chips if you prefer.


2 (8 ounce) packs of cream cheese (I always use Philadelphia Cream Cheese in all of my recipes. I find it's flavor to be the best)
1 cup mayo
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chilies drained, (I also rinse and get the seeds out)
2 ounces diced jalapeno peppers (if you use canned, make sure you drain)
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs

Stir together cream cheese and mayo in large bowl until smooth. Stir in green chilies and jalapeno peppers. Spread mix into baking dish. Mix the Panko bread crumbs and parm cheese together and sprinkle on top of spread.  Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes or until the top of the crust is golden brown.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A-Z Challenge Letter I is for Impossible Bacon Quiche

My little sister Frankie is absolutely obsessed with France. She is always asking me to make something French. Since most French cooking takes time (which I am constantly short on), this is a recipe I came up with to pacify her with that is quick and easy. (Not sure how French it really is  though, LOL) Anyways, she and my Dad will both eat the heck out of it. It's tastes good for breakfast, lunch OR dinner. It's pretty versatile!
This is my little sister Frankie. She is obsessed with France and wears a beret everywhere she goes.
If you look closely, there are even Eiffel Towers on her coat!

Bacon is my Dad's favorite food group. Recently, he called Crest (the toothpaste company) and told them they should invent Bacon Flavored Toothpaste, because "more guys would brush their teeth!" LOL. He's so crazy! But I bet he's right. :)

"Impossible" Bacon Quiche. (I call it impossible in jest, this is the simplest recipe I know for quiche.)

1 pound of bacon cooked and crumbled
1 cup of Swiss Cheese, shredded up
1/3 cup chopped onions
1 cup of Bisquick
2 cups milk
4 eggs
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a 10 inch pie plate.  Sprinkle bacon, cheese and onions into pie plate. Beat milk, Bisquick, eggs, salt and pepper in a medium bowl until smooth (about one minute with an electric mixer).  Pour into pie plate. Bake for 35 minutes or until top is golden brown and knife comes out clean.  Let this stand about 10 minutes after it comes out of the oven before serving.  You can garnish this with tomato slices or bacon, if you'd like a nicer aesthetic on top. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A-Z Letter H is for Hummus

H is for Hummus! Today I'd like to highlight a recipe for homemade Hummus. But here's a little secret, (I don't eat it. Something about the texture puts me off.) Why highlight a recipe for something I don't like? Quite often chefs are called on to modify and/or serve different versions of their recipes they may not particularly like. For instance, one of my best friends, is a vegetarian. She doesn't eat meat, but LOVES hummus. My mom is also addicted to hummus. Once she starts eating it, she can't stop. So even though I don't care for it personally, people I love do. Here's my recipe for homemade hummus:

1 (15 1/2 ounce) can chick peas
1/4 cup of juice reserved from the chick peas
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 chopped clove of garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
fresh ground pepper, to your taste

In a blender combine all the above ingredients and pulse on low.  Once thoroughly mixed, blend on high for another minute.  Taste it to make sure it's smooth now and flavored to your liking. You can eat it right away, or pop it into the fridge for about a half  an hour to give it time to set.

Tip: My mom loves to dip carrots, celery and pita chips into this hummus. It is pretty thick, so pick something to dip in that won't break off and get stuck in the dip.

Hope you enjoy this recipe. Or if you are like me and don't eat hummus, I hope you prepare it for someone you love. :)

PS: Thank you very much to Faraway Eyes for featuring me on her blog yesterday. I was honored! 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

G is for Guacamole!

Thank you for all the well wishes. It's amazing what the power of prayer and a little rest can do for your body! I am feeling so much better already. Which is a good thing because I have to take my quarterlies this week. I have to be in top shape to get through them! 

Today's letter is G. I am highlighting GUACAMOLE. Boy do I love fresh guacamole. I slather it on wraps, chips, burgers, tacos, chicken and just about anything and everything I can.  This is my recipe for  fresh guacamole. 

3 ripe avocados (peeled, pitted and cubed)
juice of 1 lime
1/2 red onion, very finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced small
1 tsp jalapeno
3 tablespoons of fresh cilantro chopped
1 tomato, diced
salt and fresh ground pepper
one tablespoon of sour cream (this is my secret ingredient, it makes the guac so creamy and delicious)

In medium sized bowl, thoroughly combine all the ingredients (except tomato) until the mixture becomes like a paste. Add the tomato, mixing gently. Taste. You can adjust here by adding more jalapeno if you like more spice, or more salt and pepper if necessary. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes before serving.

Tip:  When making for guests, keep in mind that guacamole will go brown quickly and look yuck. I make my guacamole no more than two hours in advance of company, and refrigerate immediately after I am done making it. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

A-Z Challenge Letter F

A-Z Challenge F is for Fries! French fries are my favorite comfort food. I am always ready to eat fries. There is something so awesome about fresh cut potatoes. Here is a great recipe for steak fries. I could eat these every night they are so good. Hope you like them too!

Over Roasted Steak Fries
3 large Yukon Gold Potatoes, halved lengthwise and cut into ½ inch thick wedges (Approximately 1.2 -2 pounds)

1 tsp granulated garlic
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tsp chopped thyme
¼ cup fresh parsley leaves

Preheat oven to 425. In a medium bowl toss the sliced potatoes, granulated garlic, oil, thyme and sale and pepper until the potatoes are evenly coated. Spread the potatoes in an even layer cut side down on a large rimmed baking sheet.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until the potatoes are browned on the bottom and very crisp. Transfer the potatoes to a serving platter and sprinkle with the parsley leaves and serve.
(There are never any left over when I make these.) Enjoy!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

A-Z Challenge E is for Eataly!

Eataly, for those of you not familiar with it, is an amazing Italian supermarket, restaurant and shop in New York City. Oh my goodness they offer such an amazing variety of everything I love; all the best stinky cheeses, tons of hard, crusty Italian bread, meats and pastries. Since the food I  love to cook and eat the most is Italian, I plan on begging my parents to take me there, making a trip there in the very near future.  Recently, the store was featured on one of my favorite Cooking Channel's shows: Extra Virgin. If you haven't seen this show and you love Tuscan food, you must tune in!

Extra Virgin is hosted by actress Deb Mazar (of Goodfella fame)and her Italian husband, Gabriele Corcos. They have two cute little girls that sometimes appear on the show with them as well. I love this program for a number of reasons. First, the hosts are down to earth, easy to follow and cook with lots of passion and humor. Second, they make amazing Tuscan food and are full of great ideas and new techniques to pass down. And the third, most important reason I love them so much is because they haven't made a dish yet that I didn't want to reach through the tv and gobble up!

Gabriele, is from Tuscany, so they often go back and film there. One of my favorite episodes is when they go back to Italy to renew their wedding vows, and cooked a feast for all of their guests. Man, would I have loved to be invited to that wedding! The food. My gosh, the food, I am still dreaming about it. It looked incredible.

What's your favorite cooking show? Any of you ever been to an Eataly? 

Friday, April 4, 2014

D is for Demi-glaze

Hey Everyone. Today is D- day. As promised, I am passing along the recipe for a quick demi-glaze. Don't let the name scare you. It sounds all French and difficult. It's not. It's really SIMPLE. But makes a world of difference in cooking. Make this ahead of time and freeze it. Here's a cool tip: to freeze, pour demi-glaze into an ice cube tray to consolidate space. Then whenever you need it, just pop them out and they are already done!

3 quarts of strong beef or veal stock
1 onion peeled and cut in half
1 carrot peeled and roughly chopped
3 stalks of celery roughly chopped
6 ounces of tomato paste

Bring the stock vegetables and tomato to a boil.  Reduce the sauce to a heavy simmer and reduce by 2/3. That's it!! TGIF- hope you all have a good day.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A-Z Challenge C is for Chicken Marsala

A-Z Challenge Letter C. C is for Chicken Marsala. I took an amazing cooking class on the five basic sauces where I learned this recipe for chicken Marsala. I was the only kid there. I am so happy they allowed me in. It's hard to find classes where they accept kids because in commercial kitchens there are a lot of liabilities. But I have great knife skills and handle them with care. I am also very serious about my cooking and when I'm in the kitchen, I'm all business. (Unlike the majority of 12 year olds I know, LOL.) This chicken Marsala recipe is awesome. It's always been one of my mom's favorites, so she was thrilled. Especially when I came home and recreated it for our family. They licked the pan clean!!

Yummy Chicken Marsala:
4 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
1/2 cup of flour
salt and pepper to taste
dried oregano and thyme to taste
4 tbsp oil
4 tbsp butter or margarine
2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 cup Marsala wine
4 ounces demi-glaze (to make it quick from scratch pop back in tomorrow for letter D-I will be posting it there)

Slice the chicken breasts in half making 2 thin cutlets and placing them between two sheet of plastic wrap. Pound the chicken cutlets until about 1/4" thickness.

Combine the flour, salt, pepper and oregano in a mixing bowl and dredge the chicken pieces in the flour, shaking off any excess.

Heat the oil and butter in a skillet over medium heat.  Cook chicken breasts on medium high heat for about 2-3 minutes on the first side, until lightly browned.  Turn breasts over to cook opposite side for and additional 2 minutes.  Remove the chicken and place on a paper towel covered plate.  Add the mushrooms to skillet. Saute the mushrooms 1-2 minutes, until the mushrooms are lightly browned.  Continue to stir mushrooms.  Deglaze the pan with the Marsala wine and reduce the wine slightly.  Add the demi glaze and place the chicken back in to the pan and simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

This recipe will yield four servings. (Which is never enough for my family- we have to double it.)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

B is for Banana Nut Bread

Good Morning! It's day two of the A-Z Challenge, Letter "B".  Every time we have a couple of bananas that go all brown and speckly,  my dad starts giving me the puppy dog eyes. I know what he wants. He wants me to whip up of some Banana Nut Bread. My sisters, however, prefer I shape the batter into Banana Nut Muffins.  Either way, they will nag and nag at me until I produce some. This recipe is so simple and quick, as long as I have all the ingredients on hand, I don't really mind making it for them. But, shhh! don't tell them that. I prefer they think they owe me big time. LOL

Faith's A Foodie for quick and easy Banana Nut Bread:

2 cups of  sifted flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup of Crisco (or butter/marjarine whatever you prefer)
1/2 cup of milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 egg whites beaten (it's lighter and less fattening using the egg whites, you may modify for a heavier version)
1/2 cup of nuts chopped (I prefer walnuts, but you can use whatever you like)
1 or 2 bananas, mashed

Grease and flour the bottom of a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan. Beat egg whites for two minutes.  Fold in all other ingredients (except nuts) Beat for an additional two minutes, then fold in the nuts.  Bake at 350 for 60 to 65 minutes. For muffins, use muffin pan lined with cups. Fill one/third full and bake until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. (Usually about 15 minutes in a convection oven which is what I use) Tastes best served warm and a nice slab of butter on top doesn't hurt either.

Remember, if it's yum, eat some. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A-Z Challenge A is for Athenian Cheesecake

In my Ancient History class, my teacher handed us a project syllabus. We had the choice of three assignments. The first said, Research Ancient Greek food and...I have no idea what the other two options were; he had me at Ancient Greek food! I didn't read anymore.  

I searched high and low and found this recipe for Athenian Cheesecake. I did tweak a few things from the original recipe. For instance, true Ancient Greeks would have used honey instead of sugar in their baking. I opted for sugar.  There were a few other minor changes I made, like using some graham crackers mixed with the nuts for the crust, but overall I did try to stick to the most authentic taste possible. The results were amazing. It's light and lemony and delicious. Like I said in my previous post, one of my teacher's portions dropped on the floor. She literally picked it up and ate it anyway!! It was that good. Hope you enjoy! 

(If anyone does try out my recipes, please pop back in and let me know what you think. Also, if you have any questions, please don't ever hesitate to ask me!) Happy A-Z!! See you back here tomorrow for B is for Banana Bread. Yum!!

Athenian Cheesecake- Faith's A Foodie Style

4 eggs (separated)
1/2 cup sugar (honey was what was originally used here)
1 whole lemon, the juice and the rind
1/2 cup of flour
1 full container of ricotta cheese (or small curd cottage cheese but I recommend the ricotta)
1 cup of sour cream 

For the crust:
1 cup graham crackers 
1/4 cup of ground walnuts or almonds
2 tablespoons of butter 

In a large bowl beat the egg whites until they are stiff. (use a sprinkle of salt it helps).  Blend yolks, sugar, lemon juice, rind, flour and cheese for a few seconds.  Fold the batter into egg whites.  Fold in sour cream. 
In a separate bowl, mix graham crackers and nuts together.  Use a spring form pan (spring form is what I prefer to use but you can also use another type of pan- either way make sure to really grease the bottom and sides generously)  Mix the butter and crust mix. Press into bottom and up the sides of the pan. Pour mixture in and bake at 325 for roughly 45 minutes. Make sure you chill thoroughly in pan for at least six hours before you try and cut or serve this cheesecake. I like to make it and chill the day before, for best results.