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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Z is for Yummy Zucchini with Onions

          Today I am combining my Y and Z posts because I missed yesterday. Since I am still in pain, this a short recipe, but has great flavors. Another plus to this is that it cooks very fast. I make this all the time because zucchini is a family favorite.
It is amazing how many ways you can
prepare fresh zucchini.

         To make zucchini this way, all you need is a few ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen. This is my favorite way to eat zucchini; simply sauteed with some onions. This is how I make it:

Ingredients:
3 zucchinis, halved lengthwise and then quartered
1 large yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper
onion powder
garlic powder
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

          Start off by heating a pan with oil on medium heat. Slice the onion and add it in along with the red pepper flakes. Mince and add the garlic 2-3 minutes later. Let it cook until the onions are just less than translucent. Mix in all of the zucchini. Add in the rest of the seasonings, in the amount of your preference. Cook until the zucchini is to your liking. Personally, my family likes it on the soft side, but many people prefer it to be more firm.  I often serve this with chicken cutlets or steak.

*  *  *
          I would just like to give a big thank you to all of the people who have read and commented on my posts. The A to Z Challenge was exactly that. I had to overcome a few obstacles, but I did finish and I am happy that I did not give up. Although it was very challenging I really enjoyed participating and am excited for next year!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

X is for X-ray

          I am sorry I cannot post a recipe or critique today. I went to a shoulder orthopedic today. After there I got several x-rays taken of my shoulder, I was diagnosed with two different shoulder problems that are pretty serious. The doctor was great, but he really was manipulating and moving my shoulder all around and I was ready to punch him because it hurt so bad. Therefore, I am currently in excruciating pain and I cannot put a lot of thought into letter X. I can't really type either so once again I am really sorry. :-)

Monday, April 27, 2015

A-Z Challenge Letter W is for White Bean Soup

For my W post here's a quick and easy Faith's A Foodie recipe for a delicious soup: "W"hite Bean and Italian Sausage. This soup is pretty thick and hardy and I love to make it in the Fall, but it's really good to serve any time of the year.

Ingredients:
2 quarts chicken stock
2 cans of small white beans with liquid (15 1/2 ounce cans)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound of sweet Italian sausage, remove casing (if you like heat, use the hot Italian sausage instead)
1 medium chopped onion
2 carrots chopped
1 stalk chopped celery
2 cloves of garlic
3 cubed potatoes
salt
pepper

Get the stock simmering and in a second pot, heat the oil and brown the sausage in it. When it's browned, add the stock, the beans with their liquid, garlic, onion, carrot, celery and new potatoes. Bring it all to a boil, then lower the  heat and simmer it all for about 40 minutes or until veg is soft.

When that's all done, puree the soup in a blender but be careful because this is not easy and you could really burn yourself. Pour the pureed soup back into  the pot and season with salt and pepper to taste. Of course, I add Parmesan cheese on the top to garnish, but I put Parm cheese on just about everything I eat. It's all about how you like it.  Enjoy!


Saturday, April 25, 2015

V is for Vodka Sauce

          Penne Vodka is probably my mom's favorite sauce that I make. It's rich and creamy and heavy and so yummy! My mouth starts salivating just thinking about this! Here's my recipe...

INGREDIENTS:
1/4 pound prosciutto
extra virgin olive oil (to saute onions and garlic in)
3-4 cloves of garlic
1 large onion, diced
1/2 cup of vodka
2- 28 oz. cans of whole tomatoes, pureed
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cups grated Parmesano Romano
salt
onion powder
Italian seasonings


Heat a large sauce pan, pour in extra virgin olive oil. Dice the onion and mince the garlic. After the onions turn translucent, add the prosciutto and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook for about 3 minutes. Then pour the vodka in and let it reduce. Mix in the tomatoes along with salt, onion powder, and a small pinch of Italian seasonings. Once it comes to a simmer, stir in the parm cheese and heavy cream. Be sure to stir everything frequently.

Pour the sauce over boiled penne. It tastes good just like that, or with shrimp/chicken. No matter what, I always shake more parm cheese on and add freshly chopped basil. Enjoy!

This is from one of the times that I made penne vodka. I am sorry that this
is such a bad picture. I am also sorry that you cannot even see the sauce because
I put so much parm cheese on mine. I remembered to take a picture after I had
covered it in cheese. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

T is for (belated) Thai Chicken Soup

          This soup is so delicious! It is creamy, refreshing, and spicy all at the same time. Since this is not one of my own recipes, I have am giving an ingredient list and how I would prepare this soup. I am sorry this is so vague. I don't even have all of the measurements; it is very hard to tell how much of something goes into a soup just by tasting and eating it. This can be an opportunity for you to really put your spin on the dish!

      INGREDIENTS:
  • boneless chicken breast cut into bite sized medallions (optional, this is a great soup with or without the chicken)
  • fresh cilantro
  • cream- the basis of this creamy soup
  • 3 chicken bouillon cubes
  • lots of rutabaga- do not cook this until it is mushy, it should be pretty firm
  • carrots
  • coconut milk
  • onions
  • red pepper flakes
  • various other spice ingredients?? 
          This is everything that I know about the soup. Once again, I am sorry for this semi-recipe. Get creative and improvise. It is easy to fix a soup if you mess it up!

A-Z Letter U is for "Uh-oh"

U is for uh-oh. Because I dropped the ball with my T post. I had a super busy day yesterday, but I really thought I would have enough time to go to school, get my homework done, have dinner with my grandparents, attend the science fair and still get my T post done. Complete epic failure. I'm so sorry! I have every intention of posting that recipe for Thai soup and keeping up with the rest of this challenge. I promise to come back later and post it. In the meanwhile, TGIF everyone. Because I am sure glad the weekend is  here and I can rest up before another round of busy events and commitments steal me and my time away!!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A-Z Challenge Letter S is for Sushi


I can't believe we are almost done with the A-Z Challenge. But here we are on the Letter S. S has to be for sushi. We love to eat to sushi in my family and for the longest time I have been wanting to learn how to make it at home. Recently, I got my wish.

Prepping for the sushi rolling. These are some of the ingredients
I chopped up to for the different kinds of sushi. YUM!!

Trying to get the  hang of rolling the sushi tight is not too easy.

More ingredients to create the sushi!

And then....after all of that, Mr. Dave made us this amazing dinner.
Teriyaki chicken, pork, Asian slaw and a bunch of yummy veggies!!
A friend of our family, Mr. Dave, is a chef and he was gracious enough to invite us over for dinner and a cooking lesson. We stayed there from 4:00 in the afternoon until 11:00 at night and we all had to get up for church in the morning. Once my mom and her friends get talking, there is no stopping them! It was a ton of fun though and the best part was that I got to learn how to make pork wontons, four different types of sushi, and this amazing Thai chicken soup (which I will be featuring for letter T tomorrow).

I think my favorite type of sushi is the California roll.  The hardest technique to master was how to roll the sushi real tight. After a little while, I got the hang of it, but I definitely need a lot more practice. I really have to thank Mr. Dave and his family (they have four kids and then there were the five of us) for taking the time to teach me how to make sushi. I was like a sponge, and soaked up all the cooking instruction that I could get so I really, truly appreciate that he did all that, just for me.

Are you a fan of sushi? Do you make yours at home or get take out? See you all back here tomorrow for letter T!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

R is for Real Butter

          I love the taste of real butter. I know it sounds weird, but butter has such a great taste to me. I eat butter on everything from a simple slice of white bread to hot dogs. In my opinion, butter makes just about everything taste better. But if your think that is odd, my cousin is even worse than me. He used to eat butter on nothing, just straight up chunks of real butter. That is just crazy!
The picture speaks for itself.

          Let's face, real butter is the best. It tastes and works so much better than margarine. It really doesn't matter to me that margarine is said to be better for you. You just can't get the same effect of frying something in butter as you can with margarine.

          Besides the way that margarine performs, you mustn't forget the actual taste. Butter has such a rich and creamy texture with the slight taste of salt. Margarine tastes exactly like what it is; faux butter. Margarine is made of multiple things such as oils, water, and egg yolks. Eww, that does not seem appetizing to me whatsoever.
That does not look appetizing. Eww.

          Although sometimes you can substitute butter for margarine, most of the time it does not come out just right. I have made multiple dishes using margarine, but never have I made a dish better when using it. Everything tastes better with real butter.

          Overall, I cannot say that I only use butter. For health reasons alone, my family uses margarine quite often, but we always keep a package of butter in the fridge. There are some things that you need butter for, like in baking so that is when we use butter.

My thoughts exactly.


Monday, April 20, 2015

Q is for "Qu'est-ce que c'est, Francais?

          In English, that translates to "what is that, French". I took French for my third marking period elective in school. My last day of the class was this past Friday. I really enjoyed taking French and  I knew how to speak some prior to taking the class, but now I know a very good amount.

          For my career path, I know that I will need to learn many French terms. Therefore, I will be taking French as my language. Ironically, my French teacher was a chef for ten years. She became very excited when she found out that I wanted to be a chef. Once I said that, she knew that I would most likely be taking French next year and that I would be her student. She started telling me all about how there is this huge restaurant supply store in France. It is six whole stories high! I was basically drooling at the fact of how there is such a large and regarded store at the disposal of the French. My teacher was saying how the entire first floor is dedicated to molds and baking pans. That is insane!

          The French are very meticulous about the food they eat. Every French dish, from a sandwich to the most complex meal is executed with care and thought. My teacher made a pain ao chocolat for every one of her students for the last day of the class. The buttery croissant with melty chocolate inside was the perfect end to French. What is your favorite French food or specific dish? Until tomorrow, au revoir!

What a typical pain au chocolat would look like. Yum!
P.S.- If you know French, then you would notice that there is know cedilla under the "c" in the word Francais. It is really bugging me because I could not figure out how to type the French accent marks. Uhhh (I am a perfectionist and these things really bug me)!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

P is for Pizza, Homemade Pizza

          My dad has been wanting to build a pizza oven in our backyard for years now. But he has decided that this summer he wants to actually do it. The past couple of months he has practiced at home using pizza stones. He is very determined to build the one outside and perfect the art of pizza making. In the beginning of his endeavour, pizzas had burnt edges with a doughy bottom. Now, the pizzas are starting to look and taste like they are from a restaurant!
This is close to what my father wants to build.

          My father has made all different types of pizza from a classic margarita to peppers and onions. Some of other types are sausage, pepperoni, pepperoni with mushrooms, peppers and onions with sausage, and a favorite which is stuffed crust! Everything is turning out really good. My family cannot wait until the big oven is built. I am starting to enjoy this pizza just as much as pizza from a pizzeria, if not more. I really enjoy how our pizzas are a lot less greasy; when you buy pizza there is always so much grease and I always end up using a paper towel to sop it all up. Another thing that I enjoy about our pizza is how my dad caramelizes the peppers and onions before he places them on top of the pizza.This is great because 1) it really enhances the flavors and 2) I really do not like the texture of crunchy peppers or onions.
This pizza was made last night. It is a sausage pizza with
mozzarella and ricotta. Yum! *Notice the flour on the oven.
We end up with the whole kitchen turning white.

          Once we are finished there is flour all over, but when the pizza oven is built, the mess will be outside. The convenience of  speedy delivery and the aroma of fresh pizza baking cannot be beat. I absolutely full of excitement to get a pizza oven!


Friday, April 17, 2015

O is for Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

          My dad's favorite type of cookies are oatmeal raisin. Therefore, I make them often. There is only one recipe that I use. Ironically, it is the recipe that is on the back of the Quaker Oats container. This is also one of the only recipes that I do not modify in one way,  shape, or form. It is a great recipe that creates some really good oatmeal raisin cookies!

Usually my cookies look a lot less perfectly
shaped than this. Mine are all different shapesand sizes.

INGREDIENTS:
    • 1/2 Cup(s) (1 stick) plus 6 tablespoons butter, softened
    • 3/4 Cup(s) firmly packed brown sugar
    • 1/2 Cup(s) granulated sugar
    • 2 Eggs
    • 1 Teaspoon vanilla
    • 1-1/2 Cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
    • 1 Teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 Teaspoon salt
    • 3 Cups of Quaker® Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
    • 1 Cup of raisins


PREPARATION:
Heat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, beat butter and the sugars on medium speed of electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well. Add oats and raisins; mix well. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto lightly greased cookie sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

N is for Nice Bread

           In my family, bread is not just a carb. It is a utensil and is often personified. There is always some sort of bread in my house. But there are two different types of bread: "nice bread" and "the bread".

         "The bread" is used when talking about a loaf of something like whole wheat or white bread. But if it is called "nice bread" then it is a loaf of Italian bread or semolina bread, and sometimes it may even be a baguette. Most of the time it is a type of Italian bread that gets called "nice". My grandma says this every time that she describes certain breads. I honestly don't know why she says this, but it is almost like bread is not an inanimate object.

          For my family, bread is not just something to eat on the side of pasta. We use it as a utensil. Once you finish your bowl of pasta, there is always sauce left over in the bowl. So what we do is use the bread and wipe the bowl clean. Then the delicious sauce is not wasted but instead sopped up in your bread. This is not something to do at a restaurant, but it is what happens naturally at home once we are finished.

          Bread is a wonderful thing. I love bread no matter what people say about carbs, I still enjoy it completely. If I was allowed to, I probably would eat a whole loaf of bread with my meal. It does not matter if you treat bread as a person or as a utensil. It is still great!

Examples of nice bread.
A type of  "the bread"

M is for My Bad / Mexican Fiesta

          I am SO sorry that I was able to post yesterday. From the time that I woke up to the time I was able to go to bed, I was doing something. I did not have one extra minute in the day. After I got home from school I did part of an essay. Then I went to the library for a special program for people who were affected by Hurricane Sandy. After that, I went to youth group. Then it was time for my homework and studying for my quarterly exams because it is the end of the marking period. By the time I was able to go to bed, it was very late and I just did not get time for my M post. So here is my late M post...

          Even though my whole family is Italian, we all love Mexican food, and my uncle especially does. So for his 40th birthday, we threw him a Mexican fiesta. And of course, like many family gatherings, we had it at my house. My mom's whole family was there making it a psychotic and huge party. There was so much food that it didn't all fit in the kitchen. My mom had to set up several tables so that all of the food would fit. It was insane!! We had everything from nachos to fajitas. We had pork tacos, regular taco meat, chicken fajitas with peppers and onions, and nachos. That was a fraction of the food that was here. The amount of food and dessert could probably feed ten families. But for some reason, my grandma's biggest party fear is that we will not have enough food. For every party my family has an excessive amount of food, but she always thinks that there will not be enough. So she always makes a ton of food and my mom and I always make a ton of food. Uhhh, the problems of a bunch of fat Italians.

          Since my family has had multiple Mexican fiestas, we even have a fiesta station. It is basically a machine that has heating vats on the bottom and a tortilla warmer on top with places for multiple toppings attached on the side. This time, we filled it with nacho cheese, refried beans, tortillas, and a bunch of taco fixings like lettuce and tomatoes. This is what it looks like...

This was such a great purchase for fiesta endeavours!


          Overall, I love Mexican fiestas with my family! Although they are a bit hectic, they are so much fun. What are your favorite type of family parties?


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

L is for Lemons

Lemons are great! I use lemons in so many of my recipes. Whether I use the juice or the zest, it is all good. Lemons are so useful, but the most common way that they are used in my house is actually in a baked chicken recipe. This is one of my sister's favorite dishes and the great part is that it is SUPER easy. This is the recipe off the top of my head because I never write it down and I do it differently every time I make this:

Ingredients:
-boneless chicken breasts
-regular breadcrumbs
-parmesan cheese (optional)
-salt & pepper
-meat tenderizer
-meat tenderizer
-parsley
-garlic powder
-dried onion flakes
-juice and pulp of 1/2 of a lemon (save the other half for the end)
-eggs
-milk

Pre-heat oven to 375. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the juice and pulp of the lemon, 2 eggs, and 1/2 cup of milk in a bowl. Set aside. Using a fork, poke holes in the chicken breasts on both sides and then sprinkle the meat tenderizer on both sides. In a 1 gallon sized zip-loc bag mix the following ingredients: 2 cups bread crumbs, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, salt (do not put a lot of salt in because the meat tenderizer is also salty), pepper, parsley, garlic powder, and the onion flakes. Lay a breast in the egg mixture and make sure to completely cover and submerge the chicken with the egg mixture. After the breast is fully wet, transfer the chicken to the bag with your dry mixture. Seal the bag and coat the chicken in the bread crumb mixture. Repeat this until you have done this to all of the chicken breasts. Once coated in the dry mixture, lay the breasts in a glass pan sprayed with cooking spray. Drizzle some lemon juice over the breasts and then spray the tops of the chicken breasts with cooking spray. Cook until crunchy and golden brown on the outside. You may need to flip over the chicken half way through cooking. I often check on the chicken because no matter how hard I try, sometimes it still sticks to the bottom of the pan. This chicken is great served with pasta in a butter sauce or even mashed potatoes.

Monday, April 13, 2015

A-Z Challenge K is for Kosher

I know what you're probably thinking. What's a little Italian girl know about Kosher cooking? It just might surprise you how much I know about cooking and keeping Kosher. My cousin Holly had severe allergies when she was young. She could barely eat a thing. Believe it or not, we found that the one thing she could eat was all the Kosher treats she wanted and they never, ever made her sick. We visited a lot of Kosher delis, food stores and bakeries hunting around for that little Parve symbol. Thankfully, my family has A LOT of Jewish friends and they helped us out. Especially, my Aunt Lynn.
This is the symbol to look for!!
These chocolate jelly rings are amazing!!

Although we have a lot of Jewish friends, I have to say my Aunt Lynn has been the most instrumental in helping me learn all about Kosher foods and Jewish cooking. Since I was born, we have always celebrated the Jewish holidays with her and her family. She has taken me under her wing and showed me just how she does it. There is no where else like my Auntie Lynn's kitchen, it's always a party at her house. We have a ball celebrating all the holidays with lots of laughs, food and so much joy. Whether we're rolling matzo balls or layering up some noodle kugel, my Aunt Lynn's house is the place to be.
Manischewitz is my favorite brand of mix to use for making matzo balls.
How do you like your matza balls- chewy, soft or hard? I prefer mine to be chewy but not too soft. 

Here's one of my favorite recipes for Challah bread. It's kind of a pain, but nothing tastes or smells better than a loaf of freshly baked Challah.

Ingredients:
1 1/4 ounce package of dry yeast
3/4 warm water
2 tablespoons of light cooking oil
2 tsp salt
2 tablespoons sugar
3 eggs
4 cups flour
poppy seeds are optional- I am allergic so we always leave them out

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Let it sit for 5 minutes. Add oil, salt and sugar. Separate 1 egg reserving the white at room temp. for a final glaze; beat the yolk into the remaining  2 whole eggs. Add beaten eggs to the yeast mixture. Stir in flour and knead on a floured board until firm and elastic. Place dough in a large greased bowl, cover with a plastic bag or a clean cloth, and let dough double in bulk for one to two hours.

Turn dough out onto floured board and knead again. Divide dough in half; then divide 1 of the halves into 3 sections. With well-floured hands roll the three sections into long ropes; press the ends of the three ropes together; braid and press the other ends together. Divide remaining half of dough into 2 sections one larger than the other. Make 2 more sets of braids. You know have 3 braids, in three sizes. Place largest braid on greased baking sheet. Place medium braid on top of large one, and smallest braid on top of the medium one. Let loaf stand at room temp for 1 hour. Then brush with the egg white to get a shiny looking crust on top. Sprinkle with poppy seeds (if desired and you're not allergic to them, like me) and bake your loaf of Challah in a 375 degree oven for 50 minutes or until golden brown. This recipe yields one large loaf.

Enjoy!!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

J is for Junk Food

          Today, everyone is on top of their health. But that does not matter when it comes down to junk food. There is that one thing that we all have that makes ditch our diets our diets. Junk food is everything from corn dogs to ice cream. People eat junk food for many reasons. It can bring people back to their childhoods or it may be a guilty pleasure. But no matter what the reason is, we all like at least one junk food item. My favorite junk food are french fries. Even though they are so simple, french fries are one of my favorite foods. They are perfect in their golden brown in crispy ways. Yum!!

          If you are feeling like making a super candy junk food try chocolate covered Swedish Fish. Here is the recipe and the back story.  Enjoy!! My teacher loves Swedish Fish. So one day in class we were talking and she said her two favorite things are Swedish Fish and chocolate. I then had an idea! So one night I created chocolate covered Swedish Fish. I brought them in to her and she really liked them. I have made them a few times now and they are surprisingly very tasty. The almost taste like a gummy-chocolate covered strawberry. They are very simple to make, too. The best way to make them is by using the medium sized fish; I found that they hold the perfect ratio of chocolate on them. Melt a good amount of semi-sweet chocolate and have a baking sheet ready lined with wax paper. By trial and error I have figured out the perfect way to efficiently dip the chocolates. The fastest way to do this is to grab the gummy fish by the tail and drag it in the chocolate first belly-side down then flip and cover the back. These lay out very well on a baking sheet and are very easy to store once they set and are cooled. But you must keep them in the refrigerator because the chocolate will melt right off and it will be one big mess. But besides that, these are perfect and keep for a  long time. What is your favorite junk food and why??




P.S.- This is Farawayeyes- she asked for a picture of the habenero sauce that I featured a couple of days ago. It would be with be in an isle near the barbecue sauces. This is what it looks like...

Friday, April 10, 2015

I is for Instant Mashed Potatoes

Eww. That's all that needs to be said.
The bleak color. The foul, dry flakes. The nothing smell. That is what I used to think of instant mashed potatoes. I used to have no life and did nothing except my homework and cook. But now between TONS of homework, sports, clubs, youth group and even more homework, (and when I can squeeze them in, my friends) I have a lot less time to make mashed potatoes from scratch.

A  huge time saver.
When I come home and am requested to make dinner and I know  I have 6+ hours of homework, I really don't feel like boiling potatoes, then peeling and then mashing them. So sadly I have resorted to the flaky potatoes. Believe it or not, but those faux mashed potatoes are actually starting to grow on me.

I would like to provide you guys with a great, set recipe from start to finish, but I don't really have one. I throw in a ton of stuff and keep tasting and throwing in more stuff until I make those dry flakes palatable.

The absolutely essential wet ingredients I always use are: real butter, milk, half & half, cheese, sour cream, and even a shot or two of ranch dressing. Now, let's talk about dry ingredients. I don't go cheap on the seasonings because potato flakes need all the help they can get :) Salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion flakes, parsley, and a mixture of different ground peppercorn are a must. There are many other things I can throw in with these potatoes to help fix them up, but these are my favorite.

What do you throw in with your mashed potatoes? Are you an instant mashed potato hater or fan? Who makes the best mashed potatoes in your family?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

H is for Habenero Pomegranate Cherry Sauce


This sauce mixes habenero peppers along with cherries and pomegranate. Although it is from Costco, my family and I still consider this a very good sauce. It starts of tasting sweet because of the cherry and pomegranate pieces and then you get a great kick from the habeneros.

Even though it is labeled as a sauce, I have used it as a marinade, condiment, and have added it to multiple dishes to enhance the flavors. It is thick and gooey with pieces of the fruits and the habenero peppers.

If you ever find yourself in a Costco, be sure to look for this great ingredient!

G is for Grandma's Cooking

Hey everyone- unfortunately, Faith's still under the weather. But she doesn't want to give up on the A-Z Challenge just yet, so she's dictating this post through her momma. A/K/A Jaybird. Please excuse any mistakes, as clearly they will be all mine.

G is for Grandma's cooking. There is just something about the way my Grandma cooks that makes everything taste better. It doesn't matter what it is, from something as simple as scrambled eggs and grits, to a more complex and complicated dish, it always tastes better when Grandma cooks it.

Ironically, G'ma is something of a menace in the kitchen. She leaves cabinet doors open and the counters a total disaster. She also uses almost every single pot and pan we have. But that's just how she rolls. Even though it blows my mind that she can work in such conditions, she clearly operates best in chaos, because no one produces a better end result.
ME and my G'ma at my 8th grade graduation a few years ago

It's hard for me to narrow down my favorite Grandma recipe, they are all SOOO good. I want to record one here for you, but it's kind of hard. Because oh yeah, guess what? She never writes down a recipe either! You have to just watch and learn. That's the only way to figure it out. Plus, she modifies as she goes along so it's never quite the same twice.

No matter what she's cooking or what kind of mess she's creating, I love being in the kitchen with my Grandma. She's the best.

Hope to feel better and be back to posting again myself real soon!! -Faith



Tuesday, April 7, 2015

E is for Emergency and F is for Full Stop



Sorry guys but I have to interrupt Faith's regularly scheduled blog posts for E& F of the A-Z Challenge. E will have to stand for Emergency because that's where Faith wound up the day after Easter. At Urgent Care with a bad, bad bacterial infection in her lungs. Poor kid is really hurting and is on all kinds of scripts that has left her head swimming... It's brought my little foodie to a "F"ull Stop. Please accept Faith's sincere apology for missing letters E&F. We are praying after a couple days of rest she will be feeling good as new and will be able to join back in on all the A-Z fun.  Thanks!!


Saturday, April 4, 2015

D is for Damaged

          I am writing about damages today. I have recently accepted that I WILL be getting hurt while cooking in the kitchen. Yesterday while cooking breakfast I slammed my hand into the side of a hot pan. I got second degree burns on my thumb and pointer finger. It made me realize that I will aquire many more injuries as I continue my cooking career. I have hurt myself countless other times in the kitchen, but these burns made me think. Mostly because I knew that I would be cooking a lot today and tomorrow since it is Easter time. I knew that it would be hard for me to move and efficiently use my hand (I burnt my dominant right hand) to prepare food.
This is a picture of my thumb that I took today.
I took the picture today because yesterday it was
really swollen and red and I DID NOT want to look at it.
So I saved your eyes and mine by posting
this less offensive picture today.
          Another example of a memorable time when I hurt myself in the kitchen would be when I was about 10 years old. I was cutting an apple using an apple chopper. One of the apple slices did not come out of the blade. So the genius thing that I did was stick my finger inside it and push the apple through. Well, my great idea was a bit too successful. The apple slicer took a deep, triangle shaped chunk of flesh out of my thumb. Yup, that is a typical move that I would make. My mother was in the other room at the time, and I was very happy about that. She literally faints at the sight of blood so I just slapped a band-aid on it and hoped for the best. But that only worked for about ten seconds. That is when I knew that I had to tell my mom. I told her very calmly not to worry. But when she came into the kitchen and saw a paper towel saturated with her daughter's blood that was it. She started to flip out. Before I knew it, my hand was being shoved in the sink and water was rushing over the hole that was in my hand. Then I became all bandaged up with gause pads and then paper towels wrapped around that. Since I refused to go get stitches, my mom had me hold a bunch of paper towels around my hand. It took a whole 15 minutes before the bleeding stopped. My house looked like a murder sceen. That was definitely one of the more memorable kitchen accidents.
Eww... the dreadful apple slicer. Which I
rarely use, even to this day.

          So now that I have shared a couple of my kitchen damages, I want to know your kitchen nightmares. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

C is for The Chicken or the Egg

          The Chicken or the Egg (aka the Chegg) is a wonderful restaurant that my family and I go to as much as possible during the summer. This restaurant is on Long Beach Island. Since it is on LBI, and only open during the summer, tons of tourists and regulars are there every day. The average wait, even on a weekday is about forty-five minutes. The amazing food, cool atmosphere, and service is what makes this such a great  place.

          This restaurant is well known for their chicken wings and breakfast. They have mastered 16 different sauces. There are sweet and tangy sauces along with extremely spicy ones. The Chegg was actually featured on the TV show "Man Vs. Food" for their Ludicrous wings. These wings contain the hottest pepper in the world which is the Ghost Chili Pepper. But the wings are not the only great thing on the menu. This restaurant is also known for their very extensive and delicious breakfast menu. Another favorite of mine is the buffalo chicken salad. First of all, this was the biggest salad I have ever gotten served at a restaurant. It is full of tomatoes, onions, croutons, crumbled blue cheese, and buffalo chicken tenders. You can pick the sauce and dressing that you want with it. My favorite sauce is the mild; it has just enough heat for me.

          When my family and I go to the Chegg, we usually go on a Wednesday because Wednesdays are "wing nights". On wing night, the orders of wings are discounted and endless. We end up eating way more wings than we should because they are so good. Another unique thing about the Chegg's wings besides the sauces are the size of the wings. Until I first went to the Chegg, I had never seen chicken wings this large. They are huge!

          No matter what you order at the Chicken or the Egg, it is alll great food. The portions and prices are also very reasonable. My family never has a problem waiting to get into the resataurant. If you ever decide to come to the Jersey Shore, make sure to visit this little dive!!

The Chegg is open 24/7 and during every hour, there ARE people at the Chegg.
This is just one example of the many omlettes that are on the menu.
As you can see, they do not give small portions.
These are the mild wings. You can get them breaded or naked.
I really enjoy the breaded wings because the breading absorbs
the sauce really well. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

B is for Brie en Croute



          Brie en croute is a delicious French appetizer. There really isn't a set recipe for this because is so easy and no matter what you add in, it will still taste good. There are three components to this: brie cheese, puff pastry dough (I personally use store bought dough to make this even easier), and the filling of your choice. To make this, you first roll out the dough into a circle. Then you add in the brie. I advise that you buy the wheel of brie. To make one of these, cut the brie wheel in half horizontally. You take one of the now thinner wheels and lay it in the middle of the dough. On top of the cheese, scoop on a filling. Some of my favorite fillings are sauted mushrooms and onions, lingenberry compote, and cherry habenero sauce(keep an eye out for this sauce. It will be reapearing during another post). After everything is added, fold the dough so that it reaches over the cheese and fillings. Make sure that everything is covered so the melty cheese and/or fillings don't pour out. Look at the directions on the prepared dough to see how to properly heat the oven. Cook until it is golden brown on the outside. Here are some examples that we have made in the past:



These are mini Brie en Croutes that are filled with
habenero cherry sauce.
These are filled with lingenberry compote and
topped with some chopped pecans. 
This is a large brie en croute that has sauted
mushrooms and onions inside. *This is the family favorite
(hence the  overall size and tons of extra mushrooms and onions surrounding it).*

Bread Pudding Recipe

Here is the recipe for the bread pudding that I featured yesterday:

  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 3 tablespoons brandy, bourbon, or apple cider
  • 1 ounce of white chocolate chips
  • 1 ounce of butterscotch chips
  • 1 ounce of mini chocolate chips 
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 6 cups stale bread cubes (whatever bread you have laying around; I have used      white bread and french bread, both work great)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup light cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Look over the cherries to make sure all the pits are removed. Combine dried fruit with liqueor or apple cider in a small bowl and microwave on high power for 30 seconds. Remove and let stand for 30 minutes to cool. Finely chop the chocolate. Drain the dried fruit. 
Generously butter the crockery insert of a 3 1/2 quart slow cooker or spray with nonstick baking spray. Cover the
 
bottom with half of the bread cubes; then scatter with half of the cherries and chocolate. Layer on the remaining bread cubes and top with the rest of the cherries and chocolate. 
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until smooth; then whisk in the half-and-half and vanilla until blended. Pour over the bread mixture, gently pressing down on bread to cover with the egg mixture. Cover crockpot and cook on high for 1 3/4 hours, without lifting lid, until set and puffed. Serve warm or at room temperature with a generous scoop of ice cream. This recipe is very easy to modify and substitute with the select ingredients that you prefer. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A is for Auntie A's Bread Pudding



          My aunt makes the most delicious bread pudding. It is sweet and fruity and chocolaty. Everything about it is wonderful. She puts in an entire loaf of bread as a foundation. She also adds in butterscotch chips, semi-sweet chocolate chips, alonf with dried cranberries (and other various dried fruits). To make this dessert really come together, just plop a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top! The combination of the warm and creamy bread pudding is wonderfully complimented by the cold ice cream. This dessert is great on a chilly winter day!





Sorry this is late, the time got away from me. Tomorrow I will be posting the actual recipe for this... along with my "B Post".