If a restaurant is named after a family member, you already know the food is going to be amazing. Definitely check out Mamma Angela’s if you’re ever in Maryland. I loved that almost every item on the menu is under $20! Everything we ordered off the menu was great, especially the fried polenta with truffle and mushrooms. And make sure you try their house-made limoncello.
At one of my family get togethers, I was sitting at the table talking to an aunt and we came up with this light and refreshing drink! Who doesn’t love watermelon or coconut juice? I poured a glass of coconut juice into a cup and my aunt had a bowl of watermelon in front of her. I took a couple chunks and dropped it in to my cup. My aunt suggested I add a few mint leaves. I added a few ice cubes on top, and the Coco-Melon drink was born! Just in time for those July 4th barbecues!
- 4 spoonfuls of watermelon
- 3 mint leaves (Rip them once. You want a little mint flavor… it isn’t a mojito)
- 1 can of coconut juice
- 1 shot of light rum or vodka (optional)
- Handful of ice cubes
Break up the watermelon in the glass, add the mint, and if you want, a shot of light rum or vodka. Fill the rest of the glass with ice cubes and pour the coconut juice over. Give it a couple of stirs and enjoy!
On one of my recent trips, I had a 19 hour layover in Amsterdam. Unfortunately, 19 hours is not long enough! I was able to explore a little bit of the city and was so happy to get introduced to stroopwafels.
Stroopwafels are basically the national cookie of the Netherlands. It is two thin waffle discs about the size of your palm, filled with a thin layer of caramel or honey. This chewy cookie is delicious as is, but I was told the proper way to eat it is with a cup of tea or coffee. First, you have to make sure your mug is no wider than the cookie. Pour your hot beverage in the mug, but make sure you leave some space at the top. You want to make sure the liquid does not touch the cookie. Then, set the cookie on top of the mug and let it warm up for a few minutes. When the cookie caves in, you’ll know it’s ready. The caramel or honey gets gooey and it’s so good! I bought a couple boxes to bring home and had it for breakfast with my tea every morning until I ran out. You can also have stroopwafels during tea time or as an after dinner dessert.
I look forward to the holidays for only one thing: food!
I have been making this Red Velvet Trifle cake for my holiday get-togethers for a few years now and it is always a hit. I got the recipe from this website and tweaked it a little bit. Follow the recipe, but just the cake part.
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/2 cup cake flour
- 1/2 lb (2 sticks) butter
- 2 oz red food coloring
- 2 tablespoons cocoa
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
You will also need:
- 1 large bag of shaved coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
- 2 containers of fresh cut strawberries (or one 1 lb. bag of frozen strawberries work fine, just thaw them the night before)
- 1 16 oz container of whipped cream
Preheat oven to 350º.
Prepare three 8″ round cake pans with non stick cooking spray and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl using a hand mixer, beat eggs, butter and sugar until creamy. Add cocoa and food coloring. Mix until well combined.
In a medium mixing bowl, sift together flour and salt. Add to creamed mixture alternating with buttermilk. Blend in vanilla.
In a small bowl, combine soda and vinegar and add to batter. Pour into prepared pans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until tests done. Allow cakes to cool completely.
Toast the shaved coconut in the oven on a baking sheet until it is light brown. It’s okay if not all the pieces are toasted. Let that cool completely.
Preparing the cake
Cut the cake into one inch squares and layer it in a trifle bowl starting with the cake, then the whipped cream, strawberries, and toasted coconut, and repeat. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to eat.
Side note: the supermarket ran out of red food coloring so I used green food coloring instead. It looks great with the red strawberries. I call it the “The Grinch Velvet Cake”.
If you decide to try out this recipe, let me know how your cake came out. Happy holidays!
I still remember the moment I tried truffle for the first time. In the summer of 2011, I took a trip to New York City with some friends and we stumbled upon the restaurant, Delicatessen. I ordered a burger and truffle fries and I never looked back. Fries are not fries unless they are truffle fries! I’ve been obsessed with truffle ever since.
While I was in Rome with my friend, we stopped by a gourmet grocery store and I stocked up on as much Italian pasta my shopping basket would allow. In the corner of my eye, I spotted the shelf of black and white truffle in all forms possible. I knew I was in heaven. I had to fight the urge to max out my credit card with bottles and bottles of truffle oil.
Truffle is a fungi and the most expensive kind is found in Italy. It has a nutty flavor which makes sense since these mushrooms can be found where certain trees, like hazelnut, grow. The shopkeeper informed me that at the moment, a kilo (about the 2.2 lbs.) of white truffle goes for about €4,000 which is $4,500 US. I’m thinking I should get in to the truffle business! It is the most expensive food in the world because it is hard to find and it grows sporatically. Truffle hunters use special pigs and dogs to sniff out the mushrooms.
As soon as I got home from Italy, I couldn’t wait to use my truffle oil. I found this delicious, simple recipe: Pasta with Poached Eggs and Truffle Oil Recipe. Buon appetito!
Images courtesy of bbc.com and cookwithtom.com.
My family is a very family-oriented family despite the fact that everyone is spread apart across the country. We are all grown adults with our own lives and own families, but we do try to set aside time for these family gatherings. For our 2nd Annual Cousin Trip, we took it down Tampa, Florida.
We drove out to Clearwater Beach and rented kayaks from Sail Honeymoon. Sailboats and stand up paddle boards are also available for rent. We kayaked out to Caladesi Island which is just 15 minutes away. It was 80 degrees, the sun was out, and the water was nice and cool. Caladesi Island was the perfect place to hang out for a whole day. I wish we had planned this trip better and brought a picnic. We saw a few dolphins swim by while we were on the sand, and my cousins were lucky enough to have had an encounter with a manatee while paddling back to shore. It swam under their kayak and poked it’s snout out of the water.
On our way home we stopped by the famous Frenchy’s for a bite to eat. I’ve eaten at this restaurant a few times and my favorite dish is always the Greek Style Octopus. I also got the Jerk Grouper with Coconut Rice. The flavor of the coconut was not overpowering and accompanied my fish so well. The Frenchy’s Garlic Crab Fries and Maryland Style Jumbo Lump Crap Cakes were also delicious.
When my boss told me I was approved to go to training in New York City for a week, I was so excited. Not only was I looking forward to be learning geeky computer IT stuff, but I couldn’t wait to try the hundreds of great restaurants just train stops away from me. Everyone is always raving about how NYC has the best brunches, so I thought I’d try a spot.
My New York native friend suggested we hit up St. Anselm in Brooklyn (Williamsburg). We walked in on a Sunday afternoon and to my surprise there was no wait. To start off, I ordered a mimosa because brunch isn’t brunch without a mimosa. We shared the grilled avocado with shrimp salad appetizer. I’ve never had grilled avocado and it was absolutely amazing. It came halved, topped with baby shrimps in a white sour cream sauce with lemon zest and herbs. This savory sauce was sour and cold and offset the warm, neutral flavor of the avocado so well.
My friend ordered the steak and eggs off the Specials menu. She got her steak cooked medium but it came medium rare. None of us complained; that’s how steak should be cooked anyway. It was so juicy and flavorful. The dish came with garlicky potato fingerlings perfectly cooked tender. They were definitely addicting. She also ordered a side of spinach gratin, which was also tasty. You could taste more of the spinach and not the cheese. (I forgot to take a picture of it.)
My friend suggested I try the Sweet Tea Brined Young BoBo Chicken and I did not regret my decision to listen to her at all. They cook you a whole young chicken — yes, a whole chicken. As in chicken head, neck, and feet and all. The chicken is soaked in a tea marinade and then cooked on the grill. It was well cooked through and still very juicy. The lemon wedges were the perfect touch of sour.
Here’s a fun fact. St. Anselm’s meat is antibiotic and hormone free. One of the farms they source from is BoBo Farm, hence the Bobo in “Sweet Tea Brined Young Bobo Chicken”. I’m all about healthly eating!