To celebrate… I will be sharing your stories on my blog about your memories of great pizza.
And here’s the first! From one of my friends, Maegan:
Best pizza story has to be the first time my bf and I cooked a meal together… it was pizza. Fresh dough, fresh ingredients. We made a BBQ chicken pizza with great sauce and goat cheese. It was perfection!!
Doesn’t that pizza sound incredible? It’s truly amazing how pizza making is more than just two people together making a pizza, it’s an amazing memory.
I look forward to hearing (and sharing!) more of your pizza stories on here! And if you have any pictures/videos of you eating/making pizza, I would love to share them too!
Happy Pizza Month!
(PS, I definitely ate pizza today…It was “John’s Favorite” from Papa John’s with extra sauce….Incredible! I loved the mix of the crispy pepperoni, the meaty, tender sausage and the herbs and spices on top of the cheese!)
Recently I received an email from one of my favorite pizza chains, UNO, about this month being National Pizza Month.
After reading it, it sparked me to dig deep and think about how my love for this delicious savory pie originated from.
I’ve spoken on here about several national food holidays, but a whole month dedicated to pizza? There is full cause to celebrate this entire month! And I hope you do, too.
So before I pose the questions to you all in the hopes of starting a pizza-filled daily conversation for the next month (but hey, I could speak about pizza any time, any day!), I wanted to share with you a few thoughts about pizza itself.
I’ve always had a huge love for pizza, but now that I’ve really taken the time to think about my pizza-filled experiences, it really did start at a very early age.
I remember reading a children’s book when I was really young about where pizza came from. A little girl asks a grandmother-type figure about where pizza comes from and it turns into a beautiful story about its origin and and how its made. I remember it being a favorite book of mine, and after some research, I believe it’s the book called “How Pizza Came to Queens,” by Dayal Kaur Khalsa. (Anyone remember this book? If anyone can help me with this, please let me know!)
Another childhood memory of mine involving pizza is a board game I used to play called “Pizza Party.” Anyone remember this too? A memory-styled game involving toppings on a pizza.
But it wasn’t only the books and games that got me hooked-on-pizza. It was the pie itself.
I grew up in C.T., now live on Long Island and at the very early ages of my life (0 – 4) , I lived in New Jersey. While I may not have been old enough to remember everything about my time there, I have distinct memories of a few things. One being pizza.
In the beautiful town of Wayne, N.J. lies a pizza place with a truly distinctive name: Bachagaloops.
I remembered this name so well I used to sing the name when I was younger. And now that I’ve been pondering this for the past few days, I definitely think it was to the tune of the Addams Family theme song. (Brother, correct me if I’m wrong, please!)
I don’t remember how the pizza exactly tasted, but I remember going there often and recall it being delicious. And when I had moved away from N.J. into C.T., I remember going back there and trying it again with my family and the pizza being delicious.
Food to me always sparks conversation, but I’d love to hear more from you all about your memories of pizza. It could be what your favorite pizza is, or even your first memories of pizza.
Why? Because everyone’s story will be different.
And to start it off, here’s my latest vlog with some of my pizza memories.
I look forward to hearing from you and sharing your stories.
When you think of Whopper’s from Burger King, what do you think of?
The large sesame seed bun, the lettuce, tomatoes, ketchup, cheese….Of course the flame-broiled meat. Yum to the max, right?
How about adding some Swiss cheese, bacon and guacamole to the mix?
BK has added a new burger to its lineup – the “California Whopper.”
Why California, you ask?
This has happened many times in many food items I’ve seen, involving sandwiches and wraps. Many wraps or sandwiches with “California” in the title seem to have either avocados or sprouts, or both, in them, I’ve noticed. Cali definitely has some great avocados from what I hear, so the name isn’t far out of the ball park.
So what’s in this new burger?
According to its website: “A ¼ pound* of Flame-broiled beef topped with ripe tomatoes, crisp lettuce, guacamole, crispy bacon, melted Swiss cheese and creamy mayo all on a toasted sesame seed bun.”
I must say, I was rather surprised at this new addition, but at the same time I wasn’t.
Surprised because this is the first time I’ve ever seen guacamole on a burger at a fast food joint (please tell me if you’ve seen it before this), and not surprised because it seems to be the growing trend around the fast food joints in general lately, adding avocado’s to a menu item.
But this choice is a great one. Guacamole, with its main ingredient being, of course, avocados. And avocados, have many health benefits.
Here’s some info from a previous blog post I wrote:
One of my best friends, who happens to be an amazing CNA (Certified Nurse’s Assistant), told me that avocados burn off fat in your belly! This excited me even more about eating avocados. While yes, they are creamy and to some, may be considered “fatty,” according to LIVESTRONG.com‘s article on “Food That Helps You Lose Belly Fat,” avocados contain healthy monounsaturated fats, and have potassium, fiber, folate and vitamins A & D. The article also says avocados keep you feeling fuller longer! And some belly fat just may burn off too.
Here are some other facts from Avocado.org: avocados are sodium and cholesterol-free and have only five grams of fat per serving! Also, the avocado is also known as the “Alligator Pear” due to its pear shape and green skin.
In addition to the Cali Whopper on the menu, the chicken tenders have changed! What were once the crown-shaped, fried morsels have now turned into crispier, chicken McNugget-esque chicken nuggets. I would just call these nuggets, if it were up to me, but these new changes are great.
But I don’t want to give away my review in text, so please check out my latest vlog for more:
And if you have any suggestions as to where I can head around Long Island to try some unique, local eats (or sweets!) please drop me a line. I look forward to hearing from you.
I love celebrating all the different national food holidays I keep discovering through the Hungry Girl emails I get or my Google Reader (if you don’t use Google Reader, you definitely should, it’s an amazing resource).
So what’s today’s national food holiday? None other than the classic American staple: French fries.
Who doesn’t love fries? I know I sure love them. My favorite kind is waffle fries. I remember going to Onion Alley in Westport, C.T. (where I used to live) and get waffle fries with my hamburgers. Sadly, Onion Alley closed years ago and now is the home of an amazing barbecue restaurant, Bobby Q’s. Now, I can get waffle fries down the street at Friendly’s. But with several kinds of food and drink, you remember your first time and can tell the story.
SONIC Drive-In has gained a TON of hype, let me tell you. Ever since I moved here four years ago, commercials have popped up on TV advertising the drive-in restaurants burgers, shakes and of course, fries and tater tots.
Here’s an example of one of the many Sonic commercials:
But what always bothered me about these commercials is that there wasn’t actually a SONIC in the area at the time. Even in CT, this was the case. Did you notice that too, everyone? I always thought it was odd to have a commercial for a fast food restaurant that is nowhere to be found. It’s like wanting something you can’t have!
So alas, for years I always wondered what this SONIC Drive-In restaurant experience was like. Until a year ago, when I was moving up to Syracuse, N.Y. for graduate school.
Picture this: we’re driving up I-81 through Pennsylvania, and lo and behold I see a sign for dining options off an exit. One was a SONIC! I get all excited and tell my mom how we have to go and try it.
It was glorious. Not only do you drive up to your own personal drive-thru window, a car hop roller skates his or her way over to your with your food. And the food? Definitely more quality over the regular day-to-day chains we see along the main roads.
It felt like a victory! I had finally tried the food the TV commercials had been tempting me with.
And now, these drive-ins have been sprouting up even closer to where I live. First, one opened in C.T. in Wallingford, and now I see, according to the Sonic of CT‘s website, there’s a new one in Manchester, and tentative ones in C.T. cities including New Haven, Milford and Southington. Exciting!
And a few months ago, News 12 Long Island announced the opening of SONIC in Long Island, the first opening in North Babylon at the end of April. Ever since its opening, all I’ve heard about is the massive lines outside the place with people waiting for their precious time in the car hop spots.
Today, as it is a national French fry holiday, I decided to check this out for myself. I drove the 40 minutes to North Babylon to see what all the teased TV hype is about, again.
When I got there, I had passed the entrance of 3-4 cars waiting in line to pull into car hop spots. I turned around in a shopping plaza and made my way back to the line. I got there about 2 p.m. and the wait actually wasn’t so bad. It was about 3 cars long, and it took about 3-5 minutes wait to pull in.
Once I parked my car, I had noticed the menu was a bit smaller than the other SONIC Drive-In I had been to. Regardless, I got a cheeseburger with the works (ketchup, mayo, mustard and all the trimmings), large french fry, and to drink, as I had just gotten there for the Happy Hour (from 2-4 p.m. you can get 1/2 price drinks and slushes! yes!) , I got a chocolate shake. I haven’t had a milkshake in awhile, so I was craving it!
About 5 or so minutes later, Alyssa, my car hop donned in a lime green outfit and roller skates, had my food on a bright red tray. I took the bag and first found the main event of today: the french fries.
These fries were delicious, and definitely better than the ones I had in P.A.! The fries reminded me of Burger King fries with its slight coating on them. I loved (!) that the fries weren’t salty. Too salty fries = blech, no thank you. These were warm, crispy with soft potato in the middle, cooked just right. Ketchup was my dipping sauce of choice (pictured left).
The burger really wowed me (pictured below). It was a step above all of the burger chains, for sure. The bun itself was huge, soft and buttery, and I loved the different flavors of the spicy mustard, tangy ketchup and creamy, light mayo with the crunchy lettuce and juicy red tomato slices and the crunchy onions and delicious sour pickles.
The chocolate milkshake really wowed me as well, not only for the extreme thickness it had and for the fact SONIC uses real ice cream (as opposed to fake at other chains I guess?), but the cup itself was really cool. It was silver, one of my favorite colors. The cup reminded me of the hand-spun milkshake cups you get at diners (which I have a feeling this is why SONIC made them this way). The whipped cream was incredibly thick and creamy as well, and tasted fresh made. And one of the best parts of having the milkshake? Eating fries right after it. That balanced nirvana of the salty and sweet. Delicious!
SONIC Drive-In definitely is along the same lines of similar chain, Johnny Rockets, except Johnny’s doesn’t have the car hop experience. But if it did, I’m sure people would be lining up too.
After today’s food venture, I’m still comfortably full right now and my $9 were well spent. It was also well worth the 40 minute drive across the island.
Long Islanders, where are your favorite French fries on the island? Please let me know? Also, do you have a favorite dipping sauce?
Here are two tweet replies for two of my friends via Twitter:
A few years ago I came across a game on Shockwave.com that I must recommend to you all.
I love playing computer games (any Oregon Trail lovers out there?), and one night I came across “Let’s Get Cookin’.”
If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to cook, or even if you do know how to cook and want to brush up on your skills, this game is for you! You virtually cook food in this game.
Here’s the lowdown on how to play: a friendly-faced woman comes on the screen and talks about how she works and takes care of her family. She wants to start cooking home-cooked meals again. You can play either single player or two-player and actually execute the dishes she wants to make, which are listed on the screen. And these are real recipes too, so if you want to go make them yourself afterward, you can!
You first gather the ingredients in the kitchen. Then, based on what recipe it is, you can cut, slice, chop, measure, bake, boil, fry, saute and mix your ingredients. At the end you can plate your dish too. You gain points based on how well you execute these activities and there is also a time bonus too if you complete it quickly!
Some of the dishes include squash soup, Caesar salad, beef stew, salmon with tomato risotto, and roast chicken.
I have played this game several times and have truly enjoyed it. I love how real everything looks and how you really do feel like you’re cooking (minus the smells and tastes, of course).
And now that I’ve come back to it recently, I noticed there are now three new additions to the “Let’s Get Cookin'” family:
Let’s Get Cookin’ some more (Learn how to cook some yummy looking Italian dishes! The upside down deep dish pizza looked really good… I may try this some day!)
If you try any of these, please let me know and tell me what you think. I love the original “Let’s Get Cookin'” and the newest “Let’s Get Cooking some more” the most out of the four. But I’m curious as to what you think.
During my trip to NYC I was given the opportunity to see neighborhoods I haven’t been to and neighborhoods that I have been to, yet haven’t taken a closer look at.
One of the days there were a few hours of free time where I decided to hop on the subway and head south to Chelsea. I’ve driven by Chelsea before, but have never taken the time to explore the neighborhood itself.
Picture this: a humongous brick building. Several floors of offices on top….the main floor filled with food. Lots of food. An article on Chelsea Market’s website calls walking through here “is to stroll through a sort of postindustrial theme park.” This is so true. This building, also according to the article, used to be the home of the National Biscuit Company Complex and “baked everything from Saltines to Oreo’s.”
Walking inside the big glass doors on one end of the building, I looked to my right and saw signs for not only Food Network, but for several other TV networks as well. But my friends, as it is a market, there were tons of food establishments to check out.
There was a sign in the window of the Chelsea Wine Vault for a free wine tasting happening right at the moment I was there. I immediately went inside the vault, which had a very homey, country feel with a wooden interior. To the right of the cashiers was a room where the wine tasting was happening.
With my wine tasting I took a “Wine Report”: the vault’s monthly newsletter. In the January 2011 edition, there was an article on “New Year’s Wine Resolutions,” highlighting new wines to try and giving the reader wine suggestions for this year (including taking wine education classes). There was also a listing of all of the vault’s upcoming classes in wine education, including a wine and cheese pairing class with Lucy’s Whey. There was even a recipe on the back of the newsletter for a Ricotta and Sausage Pasta.
But what I studied most closely was its “January top ten:” ten recommended wines on sale at the vault. Four of ten wines were offered at the tasting I went to.
After being to wine tastings throughout the past few years (including the Great NY State Fair at the wine tent with my friend and exploring the Long Island vineyards with my family) and trying several wines when out to dinner with my family, I discovered I love dry over sweet. I love a good Pink Zinfandel and a Rose, but for the most part, sweet wines have been way too sweet for my palate. What do you prefer, Syracuse?
However, if you asked me whether I like white or red more, I couldn’t answer that. There are certain reds and whites that I like more than others, that’s all I’ll say.
Back to the wine tasting: the man in charge started off with the whites. The first wine I tried was Montinore Pinot Gris Willamette Valley 2009 (BIODYNAMIC) (on sale there for $12.99). The vault’s wine report says it comes from Willamette Valley, O.R., and is a Pinot Gris grape. The winemakers note in the report says: “Very aromatic with notes of fresh ripe pear, yellow apple and a pleasant floral/herbal accent. On the palate it bursts into flavors of ripe honeydew melon with hints of mango overlaying ripe apple/pear character. An almost creamy mouthfeel and long finish of crisp apple essence and distinct mineral qualities.” After swirling my small, plastic cup, I tasted a light, and sweet wine that was just okay in my book.
The second white was Hedges CMS White Columbia Valley 2008 (on sale for $10.99 there). This wine hails from Columbia Valley, W.A., and combines the grapes of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Marsasnne. This was another light wine, but more on the tart side. Definitely better than the one before. The winemakers note, according to the wine report, said it’s a “blended white with Sauvignon Blanc dominating over 75% of this wine, this was one of the original malic-acid friendly white wines released from Washington State. Beautifully structured with wonderful Sauvignon Blanc character; the mouthfeel has a delicate balance of acid angularity and defined herbal sophistication. Perfect as an apertif or as an accompaniment to a variety of seafood and shellfish.” Out of both whites, this was the winner of the white tasting.
Onto the reds. The first was Independent Producers Merlot Columbia Valley 2008 (on sale there for $9.99). Another wine coming from Columbia Valley, W.A., this merlot was most certainly a dry wine. After reading the winemakers note in the wine report, I could pick out the rich, yet tart flavors of plum, black currant and cherry: “Plum, black currant and cherry fruit make a strong showing in this well-balanced Merlot. Its producers are more focused on terroir than marketing, so this wine often flies under the radar. Let it land on your table and it will enhance any meal, from pizza to lamb chops.” This one was good, but I liked the next one better.
The overall winner of the tasting was the following: Tenute Valdifalco Loacker Brillando IGT Toscana 2008 (BIODYNAMIC) from Tuscany, Italy. It’s on sale there for $13.99. This was the most surprising of the four wines: the man pouring described it having a candy-like taste to it. It most certainly did, following with a nice oaky flavor, which I love. The grapes in this wine, according to the wine report, are 85% Sangiovese, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Merlot : “With concentrated berry and spice aromas balanced by firm oaky tannins, this wine can either be enjoyed young or cellared for up to 10 years. Serve with game, veal, steaks and aged steaks.” I loved the different sweet, yet dry flavors I tasted in this one, and out of all four, this one I recommend trying the most if you come across it.
After my wine trip, I came across Fat Witch Bakery, which I saw one day reading a blog post on Serious Eats. I remember looking at the picture of the brownie (they’re actually called “witches” at Fat Witch), and thinking, “This looks sooooooo good.” I went inside the cozy, yet open designed white establishment, picked up an original Witch, and took it outside to try.
This brownie was extremely moist and fudgey the whole way through. It wasn’t cakey at all, it was very similar to eating a flourless chocolate cake in brownie form. It took me on a trip through chocolate land and back.
This bakery has been around since 1991, and its website says the philosophy behind the bakery and the witches are “No icing. No preservatives. No nonsense. Only the best, most natural ingredients. ” Fat Witch says on the website it also bakes the witches in small batches and are in “no hurry.”
If you are ever in Chelsea, please go stop at this delicious brownie kingdom, which also has several other Witches including pumpkin, java, blonde, red , snow and breakfast.
And if you’re looking for something smaller, Fat Witch also sells Witch Babies, which I was very tempted to get: smaller, bite-sized witches.
And these were just two of the several restaurants in the market. If you get a chance to head over to Chelsea, take a stroll through the market and try a few items along the way. You will not be disappointed.
I have been spending the past few days watching Food Network and Cooking Channel, watching its cooking shows and watching how the chefs make their various dishes.
Tonight I started off cooking dinner by making a box of Betty Crocker’s potatoes au gratin to be my side dish (YUMMY!). However, it was while watching Cooking Channel where I got the idea for my protein.
This recipe was inspired from chef Nigella Lawson, who has several cooking shows and cookbooks. On one of her episodes of Nigella Feasts, she dedicates an episode to cooking “Fun Food” for children (and adults!), including “Ritzy Nuggets“, “Blood & Guts Potatoes”, and “Slime Soup.”
As I watched her speak about the “Ritzy Nuggets” I heard her say how buttermilk or plain yogurt can really tenderize the chicken when making the chicken nuggets.
This is when my mind started to ponder…What if I took some flavored yogurt from the fridge, dunked some sliced “Tangy” marinaded chicken breasts from Wegmans in it, dredged them in bread crumbs and make some homemade chicken tenders?
Here’s the result: light, slightly-crisp oven-baked chicken tenders with a tangy, yet sweet cherry taste to them, and just a hint of spice. These were delicious and very easy to make!
Easy Sweet & “Tangy” Chicken Tenders
Serves 1 – 2 people (depending on how hungry you are!) 🙂
2 Wegmans “Tangy” marinaded chicken breasts
1 cup Wegmans organic “vanilla on the bottom” super yogurt
1/2 can breadcrumbs
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Cut chicken breasts in to 1 – 1 1/2 inch slices.
3. In medium bowl, dredge slices in yogurt for 5 minutes.
4. In another medium bowl, fill with breadcrumbs.
5. Dredge each “tender” in breadcrumbs. Place onto baking sheet.
6. Cook for 20-30 mins in oven, until tenders are golden brown.
Where’s one place can you go in Syracuse to find a great sandwich at a great price?
I’ve been to DARWIN several times now, and the experiences I have had have been simply wonderful. In a cute, cozy building located across the street from The Post-Standard‘s building on N. Clinton St., you can come in for breakfast or lunch during the week and pick out food and drinks. Their menus are hand-written on chalkboards. Inside, one of the very friendly staff members will greet you and take your order.
What I love about DARWIN as well, as I have mentioned in a previous post, is that their menu evolves each week. This past week I went was week 23 since their opening this past summer. Each week there is a new message up on their website, http://www.darwinonclinton.com from co-owner Daryl McGrew as to what’s on their menu and what their latest updates are. I also love that each sandwich comes with an Atomic Fireball candy! 🙂
This particular visit, which was a few days ago, I had the “This Little Piggy Went to Utica” sandwich for lunch. The sandwich is $8, and here’s what the sandwich contains, according to their website:
“This one comes from your suggestions. Stephen Gullo, who is in fact working on his own sandwich shop in Boston, made this suggestion after trying our Utica Greens. We added a little zip to our seasoned, shredded pork, top it with a healthy helping our of delicious homemade Utica Greens, and cover with a sharp provolone cheese. It all comes piled high on a fresh DiLauro’s sub roll glazed with our roasted garlic aioli. For those of you ready to take a break from your diet…this one’s for you.”
Utica Greens are a popular dish around here. According to a blog on Smithsonian Magazine, they consist of escarole , and then some prosciutto, garlic, chicken broth and hot peppers.
This sandwich was delicious! I loved the seeded sub roll that it was on from DiLauro’s: there was a bit of a crunch to the bread and then the soft fluffy dough part in the middle gave the sandwich a nice texture. I very much enjoyed the Utica Greens – they were spicy yet sweet at the same time. There was also what appeared to be ham on the sandwich. I’m usually not a huge fan of ham, but I thought the ham made the sandwich as well, giving it that sweetness mixed with the spicy greens. I definitely recommend this to you!
Going along with the “Green” theme, I also decided to try one of their rotating side dishes, their “Fried Green Tomatoes.” These were absolutely incredible too. Like this blog on Smithsonian Magazine, I concur that I too did not hear of these green marvels until the 1991 film came out. Tomatoes? Green?
The blog on Smithsonian Magazine says the following as to their origin. Food historian and writer in S.C. Robert F. Moss said to their blog that they actually started in the Northeast and Midwest and “perhaps with a link to Jewish immigrants.”
I finally got my hands on some, first at Dinosaur BBQ. Then trying them at DARWIN, I have become hooked.
The batter was crispy: not too greasy and not cooked too light. They were just right. The tomatoes were not too thin or thick either and they came with delicious Ranch dressing on the side which gave them that extra kick.
I washed my lunch that day down with a Diet Dr. Pepper, which
the staff at DARWIN have told me is a very popular drink among the customers.
Please watch my video for my full review on my lunch! They now take credit cards too!
The weather’s getting cooler, and the drinks are getting warmer.
(On a quick sidenote, the Starbucks Gingerbread Latte is back for the season! YES!)
Looking for a great drink to make over the stove ? How about some butterbeer!
I learned about this DELICIOUS drink from my dear friends/colleagues Jessica and Diep, who both love the “Harry Potter” series, where this drink originates from. Jessica was recently at the new Harry Potter theme park that opened up in Orlando, F.L., and absolutely raved about the butterbeer sold there.
Now when she first spoke about it I had originally thought it was a beer drink. But actually, it is a delicious frothy drink with no beer in it! It is a rich yet sweet drink that tastes like BUTTERSCOTCH.
My friend and colleague Diep Tran made the drink this past weekend for Jessica’s birthday party.
It was a HUGE hit, and here she is showing us how to make the delicious brew:
In a small saucepan over medium, combine the brown sugar and water. Bring to a gentle boil and cook, stirring often, until the mixture reads 240 F on a candy thermometer.
Stir in the butter, salt, vinegar and 1/4 heavy cream. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
In a medium bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar mixture and the remaining 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Use an electric mixer to beat until just thickened, but not completely whipped, about 2 to 3 minutes.
To serve, divide the brown sugar mixture between 4 tall glasses (about 1/4 cup for each glass). Add 1/4 cup of cream soda and 1 tablespoon of rum to each glass, then stir to combine. Fill each glass nearly to the top with additional cream soda, then spoon the whipped topping over each.