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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dear Kitten with a Whisk

I have not forgotten you, I'm just super busy with all the joys of the Holidays.

There are recipes to posts, but no time to post them!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Stone Crab Season!

Even as a kid I loved seafood. I suspect it’s because I was raised eating steamers, clam chowder, and lobster among other fish and shellfish.

Stone crab season is from the middle of October to middle of May. It is the only time that their claw can be harvested. The claw will grow back in about a year. They are considered by many a delicacy, and I assume this is because they aren’t available year round. I try to enjoy them at least once or twice a season.

Stone crab is commonly served with a mustard sauce. Usually it’s a mayonnaise based dip. Since I don’t groove on mayo, I created my own version. It still has kick, is very easy, and it doesn’t have to be used on just seafood either.

Mustard Sauce

- Sour cream
- Dijon mustard
- S&P

Preparation: Take equal portions of the sour cream and mustard and mix together. Add a pinch of salt and a good amount of freshly ground black pepper. Mix again.

Then settle in with a mallet and get to work!

Its a messy job, but someones gotta do it!

To serve stone crab, the best way is to serve chilled over ice in a shallow dish. I prefer crushed ice and then put the sauce in the center.

This is about a pound of stone crab. I was planning on having it as an appetizer for dinner that night, but  I lucked out and BD was working and our roommate went out so I got to enoy these bad boys all by myself.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Mmmmm French Toast

I don’t think I’ve met a single person in my life that doesn’t like French Toast. Not only is it such a yummy start to the day, but its easy to make with ingredients almost everyone has on hand at any given time. I add a little “secret” ingredient to give it a little something extra.

French Toast


- 8 slices of bread, any kind you prefer
- 1 cup of milk
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1.5 teaspoons of vanilla extract
- butter for the pan


1. Crack eggs into a shallow pan or bowl. Add milk, cinnamon, vanilla, and whisk well together.

2. Bring frying pan or griddle to medium heat and melt a couple of pads of butter. You want a thin, even layer of butter.

3. Once butter is melted, coat each side of the bread in the egg/milk mixture and place in the pan immediately. Only coat the bread right before cooking.

4. Fry bread until golden brown on the first side, and then flip. Takes about 3-5 minutes per side. Repeat procedure with remaining bread.

5. Serve hot with butter, maple syrup, or powder sugar.

Thoughts: The vanilla extract gives the French Toast just a touch more sweetness and another layer of flavor. It’s that little something extra that makes people wonder what you did differently than what they do.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Turkey Pitas

I made these for lunch this week. And even though I ate it every day, the next day I was still excited about it being my lunch. They are kind of a knock off of Panera Bread's Turkey Artichoke Panini.

Turkey Pitas
This recipe is for an individual pita, so just multiply the ingredient amount for how many you’ll be making.


- Pita pocket
-  roasted turkey, sliced
- 2 tablespoons of Spin-Art Spread
- red onion, sliced thin
- bean sprouts


1. Slice pita in half and stuff two or three slices of turkey in each half.

2. Spread one tablespoon (or more if you like) into each half.

3. Add several red onion slices and top with a small handful of sprouts.

Thoughts: These were yummy and very portable for lunch. The sprouts added a nice, fresh crisp to the sandwich. I’m a huge fan of sprouts but you could substitute mixed greens if you like.

Spin-Art Spread

This is very close to Spinach Artichoke Dip, but is instead a spread for sandwiches, paninis, burgers, etc. And its probably a little healthier for you.

Spin-Art Spread

- ½ cup chopped artichoke hearts
- ½ cup chopped frozen spinach
- 1 4.4 ounce tub of Boursin Light
- S&P


1. Squeeze any excess water from the thawed frozen spinach. Roughly chop spinach and artichoke.

2. In a small bowl add spinach, artichoke, and entire tub of Boursin Light. Mix well.

3. Add salt to taste and a good amount of freshly ground black pepper. Mix again.

Makes approximately one cup. Can be stored in the fridge in a sealed container for several days.

Thoughts: Boursin's garlic and herbs add a lot of flavor to this spread. And in my opinion, spinach and artichokes are always a winning combination. This is would be really great as a burger topping one night.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Easy Cheesy Biscuits!

These are so so SO yummy. They are suspiciously close to the Cheddar Bay Biscuits you can get at Red Lobster. I came across this recipe years ago in a Taste of Home magazine that my great aunt had. I’ve been making them ever since and they always go fast. And you really can’t find an easier biscuit recipe. The original recipe can be found here at Taste of Home’s website. I’ve added a few variations so mine is below.

Cheesy Garlic Biscuits

• This recipe yields two dozen but can easily cut in half.


- 5 cups of Bisquick
- 1 14.5oz can of roasted garlic chicken broth
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 2 tablespoons parsley flakes
- ½ cup melted butter

1- Preheat your oven to 375. Mix Bisquick, broth, cheese, and parsley in a large bowl until dough forms.

2- Drop large tablespoons of dough onto a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

3- While biscuits are baking, melt your butter. Brush butter over biscuits when they are done and still hot.

Its.That.Easy. If I had one of those Staple’s “That was Easy” buttons, I would have just pushed it.

Thoughts: The two additions I added (parsley and butter) were really just to enhance the biscuits a tad more. I liked how the parsley adds a little fleck of color, and the melted butter gives them a more golden color and adds a bit more of a richer flavor. They go great with any dinner and especially great with chili. A bit of a warning though: Don’t be tempted to add more cheese. I tried that once and it didn’t work out well. Save them in an airtight container and they will keep for a couple of days.

Kitten ^..^

Dijon Chicken Breasts

Thinking back as I type this blog, I think I can remember the first time I ever tried this recipe. I was probably 11 or 12 and it was the first time I made something my mother never had.

Dijon chicken breast nowadays doesn’t seem too edgy, but back then I thought it was genius. The original recipe is from a little cookbook I was given by my paternal grandmother. It was a little collection of recipes from other members of her tour group. Its perfect for the night you come home and have chicken in the fridge, but no idea what to do with it. I’ve made a few adjustments to the recipe, and below is my own version of the original.

Dijon Chicken Breasts


- 4 chicken breasts, pounded to ½ inch thick
- ½ cup Dijon mustard
- approx. 1 cup bread crumbs
- EVOO, 2 or 3 tablespoons worth for pan searing
- Flour
- S&P


1. After you’ve pounded the chicken, season with S&P and dredge in flour.

2. Spread 1 tablespoon of Dijon on one side of the breast, then coat with bread crumbs. Repeat this process on the other side and the remainder of the chicken.

3. Lightly coat the bottom of a large frying pan with EVOO. Allow pan to come to medium high heat.

4. Pan fry each side of breast till golden brown. About 1-2 minutes per side.

5. Finish chicken in a 400 degree oven for about 10-12 minutes or until cooked through.

(The picture doesn't do the flavor justice)

Thoughts: I love how the bread crumbs and Dijon mustard create a tangy little crust on the chicken. The chicken was cooked perfectly and came out nice and juicy.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Because I’m sure you are dying to know…

About me:
I’m a cook - a home grown cook- not a professional chef. I’m entering into my late 20’s (sigh), I live in the Tampa Bay area, and I’m originally from New England. I have an over-time job, a full-time boyfriend, and I take classes part-time towards my 2nd degree. I started cooking/baking when I was about 8 or 9 and I haven’t stopped since. I have an unrelenting love and passion for all things food. I love to cook, eat, and explore food (and drink!) of all kinds. I probably think about food as much as a teenage boy thinks about sex.

About the blog:
When I started this blog (May 2009) it was because I needed a hobby, and I thought it will be a good excuse to finally write down/keep track of the hundreds of recipes in my head. This has proven to be quite a challenge and no easy task! I was always a pinch or this or a handful of that kinda girl. Even though this blog will be mostly recipes, there will still be a hodgepodge of various things related to food that interest me in some way.

About the food:
I’ve been told I’m all about the comfort food, which I think is ok. Whether I’m making a salad or macaroni and cheese, I want my food to not only stifle my hungry belly, but to feed my soul as well. To me, that is comfort food… and was a totally corny thing to say. Here you will find food that I cook in my home at any given time. This will not be the place to find ribs with a jagermeister and dandelion infusion. While I’m sure there will be some more trendy, complex, or contemporary dishes every once in a while, my food is mostly simple and easy to prepare. Nonetheless it will certainly taste amazing, or at least I will think so.

About the recipes:
Unless I’m baking, I hardly ever follow a recipe exactly. I think they are great for learning how to cook something completely new, or for some inspiration, but in the end I always end up putting my own spin on it. When I am making something that I plan on posting, I will be writing the recipes as I go. I’ll try and get them as exact as possible, but feel free to adapt them to your own tastes as needed. Also, if I used a recipe from somewhere I will try to reference it the best I can.

About the name:
I’ve been ask how I came up with the name a lot. “Kitten with a Whisk” is a play on words from “Kitten with a Whip”, which was book and then movie in the 1960’s. ‘Kitten’ is also a throwback term form the 50’s for a young female, and is a term of endearment within my circle of friends. I’ve always liked the phrase “Kitten with a Whip”, so swapped whisk and whip. I tend to be sassy and feisty so it seemed to fit.

A personal note:
Thank you so much for coming to my little site! I hope you find some things here that interest you, learn something new, or find a great recipe. If you ever have any comments, questions, or constructive criticism please feel free to email me at kittenwhisk @ yahoo {dot} com.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Holy Guacamole

BD decided he wanted to make nachos this Sunday and I didn’t argue. Besides, nachos call for guacamole!
I hated guacamole until my freshman year of college. It was then that a group of us got together every Wednesday at a local Mexican restaurant for margaritas and good times. Nowadays it’s rare if I eat Mexican food without it.


- 3 hass avocados*
- juice of one lime
- 2 tablespoons of minced garlic
- 2-3 tablespoons of finely chopped cilantro
- ¼ minced red onion
- 1 medium tomato, chopped
- S&P
* When choosing avocados, be sure to pick ones that give slightly when you press them.


1. Take each avocado and cut down the middle lengthwise and remove the pit. Scoop the flesh out into a shallow bowl.

2. Add lime juice and smash together until smooth. I use a plastic muddler that has small spikes on the end. A fork would work well too.

3. Once your avocado is smooth, add your tomatoes, garlic, cilantro*, and red onion. Mash again to incorporate. *Add between 2-3tbls of cilantro, depending on how much you like it.

4. Next add a good amount of salt and pepper. Stir again and set in the fridge for about 10-15 minutes. I’ve found that allowing the guacamole some time to “rest” is best before you eat it.

My thoughts: This is super easy to make. The flavor is fresh, vibrant, and has just enough of a kick.
BD’s nachos were pretty good too.

TIP: Guacamole doesn’t last long because avocados are like apples and they oxidize and turn brown. The last time I made guacamole; I did a little experiment and froze the remainder. I figured I had nothing to lose, and it ended up working out really well.

How to freeze guacamole:

1. Take remaining guacamole and place in a small freezer bag.

2. Press guacamole to bottom of the bag and lay on a flat surface.

3. Starting from the guacamole, press all the air out of the bag. Then seal bag and place in freezer.

4. To thaw: place guacamole in cold water.

Kitten  ^..^

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Loaded Twice Baked Potatoes

I love twice baked potatoes. How could you not? You get mashed potatoes AND the crispy baked potato skin. It’s like hitting a home run…. only better because its potatoes. I’m only slightly ashamed to admit this but I was inspired to make these from the reality show Husbands of Hollywood. I’ve watched the show two …. or ten times. I am a reality show junkie. Anyway, the last episode I happened to catch one of the husbands made twice baked potatoes for his wife. This was about a week ago and I haven’t stopped thinking about them since.

Twice Baked Potatoes

Note: Use these measurements only as a rough guide. You may need to make adjustments based on the size of your potatoes. Therefore add butter, sour cream, and heavy cream little by little.


- 4 large russet or baking potatoes
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 3 tablespoons of sour cream
- 4oz heavy cream
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- ¼ chopped scallions
- 8 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
- S&P


1. Wash your potatoes well and place in a 400 degree oven. Depending on the size, they will take between an hour to an hour and a half. Once they are cooked, remove from oven and allow to cool for about 20 minutes. While they are baking, slice your scallions, and cook the bacon.

2. Once cool enough to handle, slice the top third of the potato off. Then carefully remove the inside.

 Also, remember to scoop the potato from the tops into your bowl. Don’t scrape it all the way down to the skin. Leave a little potato to help keep the skin sturdy enough to hold the mixture.

3. Add the butter to the bowl with the potato. Using a potato masher, mash potatoes until incorporated.

You can use a mixer as well. Then add your sour cream, S&P and mash again. Lastly add the heavy cream little by little until you reach the right consistency. You want them to be soft, not stiff or runny.

4. Next add your bacon, cheese, and scallions – mix with a spoonula. Add more S&P if desired.

I could have eaten them just like this

5. Spoon the mixture into each of the potato halves. I mounded mine up fairly high. Top each with some extra pepper.

Place in 400 degree oven and bake for another 20 minutes.

My thoughts: The potato was soft and creamy. Initially, I was worried that there wouldn’t be enough cheese, but I was wrong. The cheese melted and the flavor went throughout the potato. The bacon and scallions didn’t overwhelm the mixture and were nice little “surprises” in every bite.

These were HUGE – they seriously could have been a whole meal alone. BD couldn’t even finish his, but I was a champ and ate all of mine. I had too, ya know for research.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Dish of Favorite Veggies...AND Bacon!

Green beans are one of my favorite vegetables. I came up with this recipe a few months back when BD and I were making a beer can chicken. They were a hit, and we’ve been making them every since. They do take a bit of time because of all the sautéing but are worth it in the end. Plus, I’m a sucker for anything with mushrooms, caramelized onions, and bacon on it.

Fully Loaded Green Beans

- 1 pound of fresh green beans
- 1.5 cups of sliced button mushrooms
- 1 large white or yellow onion, sliced
- 8-10 slices of bacon *can be omitted for a vegetarian dish
- 4 tablespoons of butter
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- S&P

1. To start, snap your green beans, wash and slice the mushrooms, and slice the onion.

2. Start your bacon anyway you prefer to cook it. Once cooked, chop into bacon bits.
3. In a large skillet, melt two tablespoons of butter. Add mushrooms and sauté until lightly brown. Remove mushrooms, leaving the liquid in the pan. Set mushrooms aside.
Mushrooms - couple minutes in

4. Add onions and one more tablespoon of butter to pan, and over low heat sauté until caramelized. This will take about 15-20 minutes.
Onions almost done!

5. Bring a large pot of water to a hard boil and blanche green beans for five minutes. Remove from water, drain, and rinse with cold water.
6. Once onions are caramelized, add remaining butter, mushrooms, green beans, and garlic powder to the pan. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss everything together for a few minutes, then add bacon and toss again. Serve immediately.
Fully Loaded Green Beans
My thoughts: The green beans stay nice and crisp and get a lot of flavor from the pepper and butter. plus with the added onions, mushrooms, and bacon they really get dressed up nicely. Green beans almondine USE to be my favorite way to eat them, but this recipe trumps that every time.

Kitten ^..^

Monday, October 12, 2009

Grilled Veggie Pitas

Everything is better grilled!

I’m always brainstorming for new lunch ideas for the work week. I can usually stick to one idea for about 3-4 weeks until I get burnt out and need something different. This week I am attempting Grilled Veggie Pitas. The recipe below will make about 6 pitas.

Grilled Veggie Pitas

- 1 medium eggplant
- 2 medium Portobello mushrooms
- 1 large zucchini
- 1 roasted red bell pepper
- ¼ cup kalamata olives
- 6 pitas, white or whole wheat
- ¾ cup of speadable garlic and herb cheese, such as Boursin or Rondele
- ½ cup of EVOO
- S&P

1. Take the eggplant, Portobello, and zucchini and rinse and pat dry. Slice the eggplant and zucchini into ¼ slices. Leave the Portobello whole for now.
2. Brush all veggies with EVOO and season with S&P.
3. Heat grill to medium heat and grill veggies until al dente. Mine took between 10 and 20 minutes. Eggplant was done first and zucchini last.
4. While the grilled veggies are cooling, rough chop roasted red bell pepper and kalamata olives. Then chop grilled veggies into bite-sized cubes.
5. Add all veggies to a large bowl and toss together.

6. Take each pita and slice in half. Open the pita to create a pocket and smear 1-2 tablespoons on the inside.
7. Fill each pita 2/3 the way full with veggies and serve.

Grilled Veggie Pitas

My thoughts: BD and I had a little bit of a disagreement on whether or not to add garlic to the veggies prior to grilling. I left it off because I knew the cheese would give the sandwich plenty of garlic flavor for me. Plus, with this sandwich as my lunch for the week, I didn’t want REALLY bad garlic breath all day. This was a new venture for me and I really, really liked the end result. It was exactly what I was hoping for. The veggies were cooked so that the flavors developed in each of them but they weren’t mushy, and the garlic-herb cheese melts a little once you place the warm veggies in the pita. I was concerned about the veggie mixture being too wet and tearing the pita, but that was not the case at all. The pita bread held up nicely. I used white this time but will go for wheat when I make them again.

Last night’s taste test made me very hungry for lunch today.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Warm Goat Cheese Salad

This salad is simple but sounds fancy and tastes unbelievably good. I’m not sure where I got the original idea, but I’m sure it was some celebrity chef. Below is my own recipe.

Warm Goat Cheese Salad

- Mesclun greens
- 1 4oz goat cheese log per 4 people
- Loaf of Italian or French bread
- 3 lemons
- 1 egg
- 1 garlic clove, peeled whole
- ¼ cup bread crumbs
- ¼ cup EVOO (some extra for sautéing)
- White wine vinegar – 2 tablespoons
- Tiny drizzle of honey
- S&P

I’ve broken the recipe down for each ingredient. I recommend prepping the goat cheese first and while it’s chilling make the crostini and vinaigrette.

Goat Cheese
1-Make sure your goat cheese is cold and remove from package. Cut goat cheese in ¼ inch thick slices. Should get 8 per log.
2-Whisk your egg in a shallow dish. Place ¼ cup of bread crumbs on a shallow dish or plate.
3-Take each slice and coat in egg and then bread crumbs. Place on a separate plate and refrigerate for 15 minutes to an hour.
4- (This last step should be done right before assembling the salad) In a sauté pan heat a couple of tablespoons of EVOO over medium-high heat. Once pan is hot enough, add chilled goat cheese and pan fry for about 1 minute on each side. This will toast the bread crumbs but keep the cheese from melting.

Lemon Vinaigrette
1- Juice three lemons into a deep bowl. Remove any seeds.
2- Add two tablespoons of white wine vinegar and a very small (half teaspoon) of honey.
3- Add salt and pepper.
4- While whisking the mixture, stream in ¼ cup of EVOO.

Garlic Crostini
1- Slice bread ¼ inch thick and layer on a baking sheet. 2 slices per person.
2- Drizzle lightly with EVOO.
3- Broil on low in oven until crisp and golden brown. Should take about 5 minutes.
4- Remove from oven and rub each slice with garlic clove.

Assembly1- Place two crostini on a plate per person.
2- In a large bowl toss mesclun with S&P and a small amount of Lemon Vinaigrette. Don’t drown the mesclun – just enough to coat it. You’ll have a good amount leftover for other uses. Or you could serve on the side if anyone wants to add more.
3- Place about one cup of mesclun greens on top of crostini.
4- Place two pieces of warmed goat cheese on top of each salad and serve.
Warm Goat Cheese Salad

My thoughts: Everything in this salad just plays really well off the other ingredients. Nothing overwhelms the other. The honey in the vinaigrette mellows out the tartness enough without losing the lemon flavor or making the vinaigrette sweet. The crostini adds the salad a nice crunch and adds just a hint of garlic. And honestly, what’s not to love about goat cheese? Tangy and creamy and just slightly melty from being pan fried. Simply fantastic!

Kitten ^..^

Monday, September 14, 2009

Picnic done right: Hot Lobster Rolls

Having lived in Florida for a good part of my life, I have come to appreciate the beach and a great sunset. The other Sunday, BD and I combined three of my favorite things for dinner: a sunset, hot lobster rolls, and champagne.

Hot lobster rolls are one of my all-time favorite dishes. In fact, I would die a happy woman if it’s my last meal. Many people are only familiar with the cold rolls which is usually lobster mixed with mayo and some other ingredients. I am anti-mayo. I’ve never liked it and the few times I’ve eaten plain (by accident, I’ll add) I’ve broken out in hives.

Anyway, a hot lobster roll is lobster, a hotdog-like bun, and butter. Lots of glorious butter! Lobster rolls, both hot and cold, I sort of consider regional fare. Reason why is it’s hard to find as a regular menu item anywhere outside of New England. And apparently, hot lobster rolls are more popular in CT than the rest of New England. Below is the “recipe” on how to prepare your own hot lobster roll. If you like lobster, I really recommend you trying this one day.

Hot Lobster Rolls

(print the recipe)
- Lobster, 1/3 pound of fresh picked lobster per person
- Hotdog rolls
- A good amount of butter, melted

1 -Melt your butter slowly in a sauce pan over med-low heat
2 –Add your lobster to the butter. Allow to slowly warm for about 10 minutes or so, depending on how much lobster you have.
3- Once hot, strain butter and place in bun.
Be sure to have some other melted butter on side for dipping!

In addition to the lobster rolls, we purchased some pasta salad from our local grocery store. We chose tomato and basil pasta salad that also had grated parmesan cheese and onions with an Italian dressing. It was very tasty, and a great side for our picnic.

And of course there was plenty of sunset and champagne!

So pretty!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Never-ending Scallions

I picked up a neat little trick from this past season of The Next Food Network Star. Melissa d’Arabian (who was the winner) spoke about taking scallions and placing the ends, or white part, in a glass of water so they could regenerate. I was intrigued by this because I love any opportunity to save some money. A few weeks later, I had purchased some scallions and took her advice and gave it a try.

Turns out, it works really well. In fact, I’ve had to cut them back a couple times because they grow so quickly. After the first trim I made, I decided to take some pictures to share. These pictures were taken just one week apart. All I did was leave them in a glass cup on my kitchen window sill which gets a decent amount of afternoon sun. I change the water about once a week.

One week later.....

Pretty crazy, huh? I haven't a chance to catch Melissa's show yet, but I'm planning on it to catch any other neat tips she may have.

Summer days gone by

As I mentioned in an earlier post, summers in my childhood felt exactly like what they should be for any kid in America. Nothing beats summer in New England – nothing. Looking back it almost seemed perfect in every kind of way. While I miss my family dearly, one of the things I always look forward to going back home for is the food. Moreover, it seems that when summer rolls around I start to get a craving for certain things that only you can get there. The particular two I’m even thinking of you can only get in summer as well. And now that summer in many parts of the country is coming to a close, I’m starting to regret not taking a trip up there.

My little home town is a summer beach town. In the winter there are only 6-7 thousand people, but it would nearly double in the summer when the families from NY, MA or upstate CT would come to down for summer vacation. My father hated this because it meant more traffic for him. I loved it because it meant more kids my age and lots of fun things to do.

Every time I go home I have a list of things I MUST have. Most of which I can’t get here in Tampa, or I can, but it pales in comparison. The list includes: New Haven Pizza, hot lobster rolls (no mayo – just hot butter), Rhode Island Clam Chowder (yes there is such a thing and it’s heavenly), steamers, the best donuts and Italian ices. There are also a few specific restaurants in the area I always try to get to as well. While a majority of my must have lists are available in winter; Beach Donuts and Vecchitto’s Italian Ices are the two items that are only available in the summer months. In general, you can get them from Memorial to Labor Day, and sometimes not even during the week – only on the weekends. Maybe it’s the fact that over the last few years I’ve only been home in the winter months that is making me yearn for these things even more.

Beach Donuts: Krispy Kreme and Dunkin Donuts have nothing on this little place. Never in my life have I had a donut as perfect as these. Freshly made every morning, I can still smell the hot sugar that would seep out of this little shop. In my childhood, it was only a walk-up store with all the donuts lined up in front of you in a glass case. All kinds too: glazed, jelly, chocolate covered, soft-raised cinnamon, lemon filled, powdered sugar…. I could go on and on and on. Once you got there you had to wait in line, which would be about 3-4 people deep and there was usually several lines. Then you gave your order to the clerk and they would grab the donuts that were right in front of you from under the glass. If you were smart you called the day before and pre-ordered what you wanted because this little shop would sell out fast. Many donuts would be sold out by 9am and the whole shop by 11am or noon. And it always sucked when the very last donut of the kind you wanted was nabbed by a clerk waiting on a different customer. At that point, you just simply have to wait for tomorrow.

My favorites were the soft-raised cinnamon and the lemon filled. But as my dad always says: There really isn’t a bad one. We would get the crullers because they were twice the size of a regular round donut for the same price. The inside would be light, fluffy, and still slightly warm. The outside had a very thin crusty layer… just perfect. I really got spoiled as a kid eating those.
Vecchitto’s Italian Ice: I’ve had other Italian Ices but these are truly in a class all their own. An “Ice” should not be rock hard as you’ll sometime find. No, it should be as soft and as smooth as ice cream.

My father enjoyed these when he was a kid and if I’m lucky I can share them with my kids some day – if I ever have any. My father’s favorite is the almond, but mine is either lemon or lemon-lime as I have a soft spot for sour things. They have other flavors such as chocolate, root beer, cherry, watermelon, and so on. They also have grape which I believe to be my first Ice. If it wasn’t really my first, it’s at least the first I can remember. I recall my father and me down at the beach, and it was a hot summer day with a lot of the summer kids running around. I can clearly remember waiting in line (it’s a walk-up only location) and then my dad asking me what kind I wanted. I was about 4 or 5 and I saw a boy a few years older than me eating a purple ice. So I told my dad I wanted a purple one and the boy said (rather snotty I might add): “its called grape”. Well, excuse me!

It’s so hard to describe how these taste, but they are pretty damn tasty: cold, smooth like ice cream, refreshing, and just sweet enough. They serve them in little paper mini cups that are soft so that as you eat the ice you can squeeze the paper together to push the ice up and suck out every last drop that is left. I would take one of those over any flavor of ice cream any day.

For a really great article on Vecchitto’s and some history of this family owned and operated business here is a great article from the New York Times circa 2002.

Now that I’m done being nostalgic about food, I find that I really miss home. While I have lived in Tampa for 19 years now, CT is still my home.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Oldie but a Goodie

For lunch this week I opted for something seriously old school - Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches. I needed a break from everything else, and I wanted something easy and on the cheap.

I completely forgot how good a PB&J 'wich is. For my PB&J's I chose Jif creamy peanut butter (I actually use to be a crunchy girl, but now lean I towards creamy) and Smucker's Red Raspberry Jam which is so good - kinda sweet and very tasty. Bread was Nature's own Butter bread. I would have preferred wheat, but BD hates wheat and it just doesn't make sense to buy two loaves of bread.

No wonder I loved these things as a kid.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

What pasta is best?

I stumbled across this article today. It was one of those days when one article caught my attention, which lead to another article, which referred to another article, and before I knew it - an hour had gone by.

This article however was by far the most interesting. It's about pasta and what each shape is best for what kind of purpose or sauce. I'm definitely going to refer to it in the future when brainstorming new recipes.

Click here to read the article from Chow

Kitten ^..^

Football Season is Here: Queso con Carne

I attempted a new appetizer last night. I was trying to think about some great party appetizers in preparation for Labor Day, BD’s 30th birthday, and football season. I knew I wanted something that wouldn’t be overly complicated, time-consuming, and it needed to be a crowd pleaser for sure.

I’d never made a queso dip before (though I have eaten more than my fair share of them), so I decided to give it a go. I figured it would be especially great when I have about 30 grown men drinking and swearing at my TV in the upcoming months while watching a game.

Queso con Carne
*This recipe made a LOT – much more than I anticipated. If you are serving this with a couple of other appetizers you could easily serve 20-25 people. If it’s the only appetizer -maybe 10-15.

- 2 – 32oz processed cheese blocks, cubed
- 2 10oz cans of Rotel, drained
- 1.5 lbs of ground beef
- ¼ cup of minced onion
- ¼ cup of chopped scallions
- 1 tablespoon onion power
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons cumin
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1+ tablespoon of crushed red pepper
- S&P


1 - Over medium high heat brown ground beef with the onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, chili powder, paprika and 1 tablespoon of crushed red pepper. Once fully cooked drain off fat and set aside.

2 -In a large dutch oven, add onion and Rotel. Sauté for a couple of minutes and then drain off excess liquid.

3 -Add back to pot and add in the cheese. Stir until smooth and all the lumps are gone.

4 -Add ground beef and stir to incorporate. Add S&P to taste.
*** At this point I tested the mixture to see what the heat/spice level was. I wanted a lot more kick than it was giving so I added a couple more tablespoons of crushed red pepper little by little until I got the amount of heat I wanted.

5- Right before serving, add the chopped scallions and stir. For serving, I would recommend using a slow cooker or fondue set to keep the dip warm.

I was feeling rather ambitious the day I was making this and decided to make my own chips as well. They turned out pretty good and were easy to make, but a little time consuming. Honestly I decided to do them because I had nearly a whole package of uncooked corn tortillas in my freezer that I was probably never going to use otherwise.

Homemade Chips

1 - The tortillas were on the smaller side for I cut them into fours.

2 – Next I fried in vegetable oil over medium-high heat.

3- I only did a few at a time and made sure to flip them once during the frying. I used a small sauce pan because I didn’t have a ton of veggie oil on hand.
4- Once they had a light brown color, I removed them from the oil and place on a cookie sheet lined with paper towels to cool and then sprinkled with a little salt.

I liked how they turned out. Light, crispy, and worked well for my queso. However, after frying them I suspect that my corn tortillas weren’t entirely corn and had a little flour in them as well. Still, they were pretty tasty and I will definitely try to make them again.

My thoughts: I really, really, loved the queso. It was really cheesy and had just the right amount of other ingredients. Not only was this good for flavor reasons but it also was important for dipping. As BD said, it had the right consistency and you were able to get a little bit of everything in each bite. I was glad that I added more crushed red pepper near the end because I like things with a bit of a kick. I ate quite a lot more of this than I would like to admit too… so let’s just say that I didn’t have any room left for dinner that night.
Kitten ^..^

Monday, August 24, 2009

Yo quiero Quesadillas!

I have a deep love for Mexican food. A better word might even be addiction; I have an addiction to Mexican food. The other night I rifled through my fridge and pantry and discovered that I had all the necessary ingredients for Veggie Quesadillas. I’m a fan of the homemade quesadilla, much more so than ordering them in a restaurant because when you make them at home you get to choose what you want in them and the possibilities are endless.

A while back I use to be afraid of making them, but once I learned how easy it can be I make them at least once a month.

Veggie Quesadillas
- Any veggies you want! I chose: red bell pepper, green bell pepper, mushrooms, onions, and spinach
- Cheese
- Large flour tortillas
- Vegetable oil

* I can’t really give you exact measurements because that is all up to you. Below is the method of how to go about making them.

1 -Sauté your veggies until al dente. FOOD 411: Al dente means “to the bite”, it refers to that tender yet crisp phase of vegetables but is more commonly used referring to paste.
2 -Heat a large sauté to medium heat and pour just enough vegetable oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Place the tortilla on the pan.
3 -Add a layer of cheese all over the tortilla but leave about a half inch perimeter from the edge. Next scatter some of your veggies all over the tortilla. You can add as much as you like but don’t worry about covering every inch with vegetables.
You’ll be folding it in half. (See picture) Even though I didn’t overload mine with veggies, I still ended up with a ½ inch thick quesadilla.
4 -Once the cheese start to melt slightly, take a pair of tongs and fold the tortilla in half and press down slightly with a spatula.

5 -After the tortilla has browned slightly on the bottom side, flip over carefully to finishing browning the second side.
6 -Remove from pan and allow cooling for a couple of minutes before slicing.

My thoughts on this dish: I love quesadillas and these hit the spot. They are crispy, melty, and full of tasty veggies. Not to mention quick and not a lot of dishes to clean afterward!

The dipping sauce in the picture is one of my favorite things. It’s Spicy Black Bean Dip from Dessert Pepper Trading Company.

It’s a staple in my fridge at all times; I especially love it on southwestern style scrambled eggs.

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