Ladies and gentlemen of the 90’s…

Posted: September 22, 2011 in Food

Attention my Nickelodeon friends generation, I know most of you who are on my Facebook buddy list grew up in the 90’s, the greatest decade in history to be a kid. Everything great (and bad) was magnified 100 times when you were young. The slip n’ slides seemed like they were a mile long, 4 inches of snow seemed like 3 feet and 50 grams of sugar wasn’t enough. I was sitting at work today and became inspired when I was thinking about what it must be like growing up in this day and age. iPods, iPhones, computers, Xbox and Playstation 3. As I sat there and through to myself, I wouldn’t trade my Sony walkman, Game Boy, NES or Crossfire for anything. And then as I thought about it more, I started to think of the cool shit that we used to eat as a kid. And, what do you know, I have a food blog to talk about with you about.

I would just like to preface that due to our softening country finally coming around to the thinking of “Why are our kids so fat,” half of these things would not even be allowed to hit the super markets today. Without further a due, here is my top 10 list of snack foods we used to eat as kids: (Drinks to come in a later post)

10. Starburst – I used to hose my parents every time they took me to the movies for a solid 5.00 for a bag of Starburst. And I used to eat the whole damn bag. So many great flavors and that blinding yellow bag, I’m surprised they didn’t throw me out of the theater! Ha, terrible, just awful joke. This is probably my favorite commercial as a kid and I’m glad it cracked my list of top 10. 

9. Ring pop – I really don’t have anything to say about this, but it was cool, good and it made your fingers really damn sticky. 

8. Lunchables – Now, they are quite possibly the nastiest thing I’ve ever seen. The ham is shiny and slimy, the cheese tastes like it’s right out of the processing machine, the crackers are moist and soft because of the condensation from the ham, but I used to eat the shit out of these. I don’t think I started developing taste buds until they came out with the pizza flavored Lunchables, those almost made me throw up. But, I still at the pepperoni (or whatever those disc-shaped objects were in the package. And the salsa was nasty in the nacho brand. Oscar Meyer really got away with these. 

7. Pizza Bagel bits – “Pizza in the morning, pizza in the evening and pizza at supper time. When pizza’s on a bagel, you can eat pizza anytime.” Quite possibly one of the most successful advertising jingles in any food product, pizza bagels really did hit the spot all the time every time. But, I always burnt the shit out of my mouth and had that dangly piece of skin hanging from the roof of my mouth for 2 weeks after it. Sorry, I had to. 

6. Ellios Pizza – But it had to be the Ninja Turtles box. Does anybody remember this? There used to be punch-outs of the characters on the back of the box. I would only eat this if the Ninja Turtles were on it. I liked, I’d eat anything as a kid, they used to put the Flyers logo on the back too, when hockey used to be really cool. Apparently, each rectangular piece of was 1 serving. I used to eat 3 at a time. And, no matter how long you left it in the oven, the middle was ALWAYS cold.

5. Charms Blow-Pop – Come on, you knew the lollypop infused gum ball had to make the list. I felt like the majority of my Halloween candy ended up being blow pops one year. I always loved the grap5e and cherry flavors. And you know what’s great? They still have the same wrappers today. I used to get one of these in my lunchbox every now and again as a treat. From Charms, I know everybody remembers this commercial: 

4. Bubble Tape – The 2nd best gum if you played baseball as a kid. This gum was great and it came in a circular container (that always came undone) that you could unwind your gum. Eventually, they put a tricky little device on the end of the container that allowed you to cut the game. I was always a fan of the grape flavored brand. It’s for you! Not them. 

3. Fruit by the Foot – Jumpin’ jehosaphat! This craft little snack came in a small package but rolled out to 3 feet of pure artificially fruit flavored joy. Eventually, they started putting designs on the paper that lined the fruit. Who the hell actually payed attention to that anyway? I usually just unraveled the whole thing, crunched it up into the smallest ball I could make of it and let my insides do the rest. Always liked this kid’s shirt: 

2 Gushers – Great googly moogly. How good were these? The stickiest, juiciest of all fruit- related teeth-rotting glory. I believe they came in 2 or 3 flavors, I always remember asking my mom for the red kind. The red kind as a kid covered flavors touching the cherry and strawberry spectrums. 

1. Dunkaroos – Good. God. The dessert version of a Handi snack, a pouch filled with delicious kangaroo shaped cookies and a connected container of sweet, delicious fudge knocked any kid’s socks off. Me? I just ate the chocolate and threw the cookies out, screw all that work.
Stay hungry retro style. Now accepting rebuttals and honorable mentions.

 

 

Doritos chicken…snack strong

Posted: September 19, 2011 in Food

I just wanted to start out by saying this is not my original recipe, Jess E. and Rob M gave me this brilliant idea. But, I’m going to blog about it anyway.

Doritos are my all-time favorite snack food. There have been a lot of different flavors since the Dorito hit the market in 1964, my birth in 1985 and the less painful dimension of the chip sometime in the 1990’s (when the chip’s corners went from sharp to rounded). Taco bell, pizza hut and bold BBQ to name a few are some of the flavors the really need to make it back to the shelves. However, a couple years ago, Frito Lay hit the jackpot with what seemed like an era of trial and era chip: Sweet Chili BBQ Doritos, the purple bag.

Delicious and overly addictive, the Sweet Chili BBQ Dorito has taken the world by storm and the flavor is still mysterious to me whether or not it’s more BBQ-ey or more Chili-ey. The allure keeps coming me coming back, bag after bag after bag.

Jess E. gave me this idea a few weeks ago and I made it for Tricia last weekend, but I added a couple twists and turns to somewhat call it my own idea. Why not combine my favorite snack food with the most diversely used meat?

I present to you today…Baked Dorito Encrusted Chicken

Here’s what I did:

1/2 bag of Sweet Chili BBQ Dortios

6 filets of boneless, skinless chicken breast

2 eggs, beat

1/2 cup spicy bread crumbs

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Paprika

Before you start anything, pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a pan you can put in your oven with tin foil, drizzle olive oil on the foil so the chicken doesn’t stick, you’ll lose your coating if you don’t do this.

Trim the fat off the chicken before you cook it. Take about half the bag of the Doritos and crumble the chips up until they are a little bigger than bread crumbs. Pour into the mixture your spicy bread crumbs and give a couple good shakes of paprika until you can see the red particles in the mixture. Set aside in a large mixing bowl.

Once the fat is trimmed off your chicken, dip each piece of chicken in the eggs until completely covered. Transfer the egg covered chicken into your mixing bowl of Dorito mixture and cover the chicken completely. Don’t be afraid to go over board with you coating since this coating will not cover like normal bread crumbs. Place side by side in the pan and put into the oven when it reaches 400 degrees.

Depending on how thick your chicken is (I used thin cut), the chicken should be done in 15-20 minutes. Half-way through the baking, sprinkle cheese on top of your chicken to your liking. Dominant.

Stay hungry my friends.

Why did the chicken (dip) cross the road?

Posted: September 16, 2011 in Food

I’m a dip guy, aren’t you? Who doesn’t like a good dip? Bean, french onion, buffalo chicken and taco to name a few. They’re all pretty good and it’s kind of tough to mess up because you’re really only mixing shit up and tasting it during the path of finishing.

For people who don’t know me that well are probably pretty surprised that I have any kind of skill in the kitchen, and what better time to impress your coworkers than at a floor potluck? I was incredibly excited when I read in our kitchen at the Comcast Center that there was going to be a 36th floor potluck. Why was I excited? Really only friends and family know what I’m made of in the kitchen, it was time to see how I stacked up against the general public. I had to come up with something new, I already used my Italian hoagie dip in 2010 that ended up being pretty successful. I needed to pull a rabbit out of my hat and do something no man has ever done before. I think I’ve set myself apart with dips at least in the sense that I like to use sliced baguette bread instead of chips, it kind of adds a sandwich dimension to the whole dipping experience. But, what would my new creation be? And then it hit me…

What is Philadelphia known for? Sports, tasty cakes, irate fans, shitty weather…and cheesesteaks! I personally am not the biggest fan of the cheesesteak, but I feel like most people around here wouldn’t snicker at the site of one. Why not…transform…a cheesesteak…INTO A DIP?? Brilliant, just brilliant. But, as if that thought could have been perceived as common, why not go out and try to create “the perfect chicken cheesesteak dip.” And I did it.

Behold, the perfect chicken cheesesteak dip: (Before the wolves got to it)

It needed to be smooth, cheesy and downright filthy good. So what’d I do? I combined the thought of a chicken cheesesteak and a good chunky dip into one. This could quite possibly be the most unhealthy dip in the history of dip:

Here’s your recipe:

1 stick philadelphia cream cheese

1 small bottle lite ranch dressing

1 large white onion

3 pounds of pulled, boneless skinless chicken breast

3 red bell peppers

2 cans chopped mushrooms

1/2 pound sliced american cheese

In a large pot, bring water to a boil and boil your chicken until it’s cooked through. Drain the pot and let the chicken cool until you’re able to use your hands to touch. Pull the chicken apart in to small, thin shredded pieces, set aside. Slice your white onion and peppers into slivers and fry in a sauce pan until translucent (you’ve got to have fried peppers and onions). You’re onions and peppers are done when the onion is translucent and peppers are no longer hardened. Then in another pot, use your entire bottle of ranch dressing until bubbling, this will be your rue. Once the ranch is bubbling, melt the cream cheese and 1/2 pound of cheese until you get a thick, rich and milky mixture. Add the chicken until complete mixed and chunky. Cook on medium heat until all of the chicken is coated. Once you have a nice, thick mixture, add your fried vegetables and continue to mix. At the very end, add in your mushrooms (if you like them) and keep mixing. You can serve this either hot or cold, I served it hot at the potluck. Pick yourself up 2 packages of french baguette and have the bakers slice it into mini baguette pieces, beats the hell out of chips, actually, chips are not strong enough to hold this stuff.

I put my dip in the microwave for 5 minutes on high and the aroma took over the kitchen. I placed my dish in the conference room where the food was held and walked away for a bit, I was nervous that nobody would try my dip and it would sit there lonely. I came back in on a reconnaissance move, as some of the people on the other side of the floor didn’t know who I was while I was really trying to listen to what they were saying. I was getting a good vibe and people were diving into my dip. It was safe to say that HALF WAY through the pot luck, I was feeling pretty good about myself. Gone, just freaking completely gone. Put in ooon the boooooard…YES!

Stay hungry my friends.

At this Casino, everybody wins…

Posted: September 15, 2011 in Food

“This guy could fuck up a cup of coffee.” – Nicky Santoro. Tricia really could, but I’ve been hard on her today so we’ll let it slide.

Ahh, nothing like a little quote from Casino to kick off this post about…Clams Casino.

I’ve had a thousand different types of Clams Casino, and I’ve really only liked one place that makes it really good, Scaturro’s restaurant in Marlton, NJ. You know how can tell the difference between good and poor Clams Casino? Bad Clams Casino: Huge chunk of baked bread crumbs with a chewy piece of clam. Good Clams Casino: Congregate of clam, spices and lightly seasoned breadcrumbs. After all, you didn’t order baked bread crumbs.

For those of who’ve been out to eat with me, you know that not only do I make the waitress come back 3 times before I’ve decided, but I end up ordering something whacked out and probably only found in the fine print on the back bottom right hand corner of the menu. That’s who I am, and that’s who I care about. Threw another movie quote at you there; but, seriously, I like when things are made differently. In college, I had a friend that made me pasta to try impress me with her “sauce.” She’s sitting there with a can of crushed tomatoes and then dumps an entire bottle of salsa into the sauce. At first, I was appalled. Then I tried it and decided it was the coolest desecration of Italian food in The NCAA (National Collegiate of Arts of Annihilation).

Now that I’ve bored you with all of the preambles, here is what I liked to call my Clams Casino if they made it onto a restaurant menu: The Nicky Santoro.

100 littleneck clams

1 pound of spicy italian sausage, drained, crumbled and chopped fine.

1 cup of romano cheese. (Not the granulated kind, but the chopped kind. I don’t know the real name for it but you’ll see in the pictures)

1 container of green chiles

1 cup PANKO bread crumbs

Paprika, salt and pepper

After you’ve cleaned your clams, bake them in the oven until they open. I put them on a pan lined with tin foil. Once the clams are opened, remove from the oven and clean out of the clam. Place in a bowl. Mix your sausage, green chiles, bread crumbs and cheese in a bowl until blended well. The leftover grease will allow for the coating to stick together. Once you’ve made your mixture, add in the clams until completely blended. Why not just add them all at the same time if you’re feeling up to it? Well if you do then it’s not truly the Nick Santoro, but whatever stupid name you came up with it will be.

Once you have your mixture, you should be able to scoop the mixture out and place them on whatever clams you might have laying around the house. This proves to be the most difficult part of this whole shebang because quite frankly, who has leftover clams laying around the house? You called it, this guy does, but they’re not from the ocean, probably made in some factory somewhere. Scoop the mixture into your clams until they’re full to your desire. Add some salt and pepper to taste and the go to town with the paprika. Paprika is the god of all fish seasonings, it really won’t ever overpower your food because it’s strong enough to make a difference but not strong enough to send you to the hospital, morgue, whatever.

Once you’ve got mixture in it’s cozy canister, bake in the oven until you start to see the sausage and cheese turn brown. I’m cool because I think it’s OK to mix cheese with fish, and you should too. Got a problem with that? Then go be like everybody else.

Enjoy the Nicky Santoro. Stay hungry my friends.


Yeah, I know. I’m a lazy shit and haven’t written in my blog in quite sometime. You can’t force a writer’s hand into making them write when they don’t feel like writing. Want to know what my inspiration is right now? Just tuned into Independence Day. Relevance to food? Less than none, but who cares. What, do you think you’ll get to Washington and it won’t be there?

Anyway, this Summer has been an action-packed one with a lot of things I’ve eaten I’d like to share with you. We’ve ranged from fish, exotic meat to grade Z to the negative 12th power NYC street meat. To start it all off, I want to start off with some of the grilling I’ve done.

Grilled t-bone and mixed summer vegetables: 

I think we had about 21 heat waves this Summer and there’s nothing better than a nice, seasoned and marinated t-bone steak grilled to perfection. The thing is in the Summer time, you really don’t want to have a heavy, thick steak. No, you want something light and tender. I picked up some nice t-bone steaks from Genuardi’s one Sunday morning, I had a nice conversation with the butcher about what’s best to grill and he pointed me in the right direction. T-bone’s really aren’t that expensive because they’re not the highest quality meat and cut, but they’re great to grill because they’re thin and absorb marinade and rubs better than a huge thick filet. I bought 8 filets for about $35.00 total. On the way back from Genuardi’s, I pulled into Produce Junction and picked up some good Summer vegetables. I bought a bag of zucchini, squash, red potatoes, small white potatoes, red onions and then a box of cherry tomatoes.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I could really care less about mashed potatos with my steak. Vegetables reign supreme, and I came up with a pretty sick way of cooking them along with the steaks.

Firstly, I came home and decided on a marinade for the steaks. When I make steaks, I marinate for about 6 before I take them out to cook. A lot of you are probably like, “What? Only 6 hours, I’d put them shits in my fridge for like a week, blah blah blah.” For those classless people, remember that you always want to maintain the integrity flavor of the steak and not taste 100% marinade. I marinate for about 6 hours so that there is a good “hint” of flavor. Once I’m done marinating, I dab the marinade off and tack on dry rub.  The best dry rub I’ve used is the Grill Mates’ Cowboy Rub. Who knows grilling/BBQ better than Texas?

Once those meats are marinated and rubbed for grilling, you’ve got to take care of the beautiful vegetables you bought. What I did here is I took all of my vegetables, lined a sauce pan with tin foil and some olive oil. Drop all of the vegetables into the foil and turn the grill on high. Of course, you need to use a good vegetable seasoning for all of those vegetables. I personally use Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning.


It’s a great seasoning that you can really use on anything, but I think this seasoning in particular really brings out of the flavor of Summer vegetables. I make sure to coat all of the vegetables with the seasoning and some more olive oil on top of all of the vegetables. Cover the pan up with tin foil to keep the heat in when grilling. I made sure to start the vegetables about an hour before the meat went on, the actual steaks only take about 5 minutes to cook.

Turn that grill on high and get those vegetables going. You should hear a constant bubbling inside your enclosed sauce pan. That’s sound you hear isn’t burning, it’s flavor perfection. You want to make sure that your vegetables are no longer hard, but pliable, and definitely not mushy. The goal of grilling these veggies is create an outstanding, flavorful side to your wonderfully marinated steaks. My personal favorite out of all of the vegetables are the red onions. It really is amazing how differently a raw red onion and a grilled to perfection red onions tastes. Raw = Sour. Grilled to perfection = Candy sweet.

This is probably one of my favorite meals of all time, especially in the summer. I uniquely call it: Steak and vegetables.

Stay hungry my friends.

Pizza pizza

Posted: December 23, 2010 in Food

Every now and again, I get put in charge of making dinner. Every now and again, I’m given direction and ingredients. After working for nearly a year in a pizza kitchen, I developed a fantastic pizza-making skill, especially making from scratch.

90% of the pizza eaten in my house is homemade. Fresh ingredients, fresh dough from the bread maker, fresh mozzarella and homemade pizza sauce. It costs a heck of a lot less money than ordering delivery, but you do have to baby it since the convection oven is no pizza oven. Here’s what I did recently:

Fresh out of the dough maker, I had enough dough for 2 large pies. They keys to making great pizza from home are having great dough, a pizza stone and great sauce.

Dough: For the local people who don’t have the luxury of having a dough maker around, Massos in Gibbsboro has great dough. I like my dough a little on the sweeter side, it helps bring down the acid flavor of the tomatoes. The pizza dough recipe that came with my bread maker is perfect, there are millions of recipes out there, try one.

Stone: Who likes mushy pizza? Amateurs and people who love dominos over a good mom and pop slice, get outta here. The pizza stone is what I use to place the pizza on top of when baking, we have 3 in this house. The stone gives the pizza a natural crisp to the dough when baking. I love my pizza well-done, nice and crispy.

Sauce: My favorite part of the pizza. Here is my recipe for a chunky pizza sauce:
1 32 ounce can of San Marzano whole tomatoes
1 garlic cube (not the entire bulb)
1 ounce extra virgin olive oil
1/2 minced white onion
Oregano
Paprika
Salt and pepper to taste

Place oil in a pot and heat on medium until hot. Smash the garlic cube and fry in the oil until brown, do not burn. Remove the garlic when browner and fry the onions until caramelized. You should slice the onion thin enough that they almost dissolve in the oil. Empty the can of tomatoes into the seasoned oil, chop the whole tomatoes with a wooden spatula until the sauce is evenly chunky. Add oregano, paprika, salt and pepper until you reach desired taste. Now that is a great sauce.

Cheese: I like different style pizza. Although most pizza used grated mozzarella, I like chunky mozzarella. Instead of grating the cheese, tear into little ovals. You’ll notice by doing this, you’re not robbing yourself of any flavors, both the sauce and cheese will be on display, and not a nasty film layer of cheese.

Now that we have that down, we need to tackle the challenge of forming the pizza. Whatever surface you’re working on, make sure you add a dusting of flour, it keeps the dough from sticking. You really have to play with the dough to get a flat circle. I put the dough right on the pizza stone and use a rolling-pin to flatten it. Major point: make sure your dough is as flat and spread out as possible. If it isn’t, the yeast in the dough will ruin your pie. Don’t be afraid to stretch it out so thin that it looks translucent.

Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees and bake for 25 minutes until the crust hardens. Be careful, the pizza can burn quickly and easily after it starts to bake. I added crumbled sausage to this as well.

Once that bitch is heating up, time to work on the display of your pie. I’m not going to go into anymore detail, enjoy the pictures. Stay hungry my friends.

DIPpidy doo da…

Posted: December 9, 2010 in Food

Have you ever thought: What if i could turn my sandwich into a dip?

I did..and I have.

Imagine a primo hoagie in a dish. You don’t have to share a bite of your precious hoagie with anyone, it’s all in a bowl, and all for you. You can take as much as you want or as little as you want. Not as much capicola and more cheese? More lettuce and tomato and less salami? It all depends on how much you want on your baguette. You want to know how to make it? I’m sure you do, here goes:

I recommend going out and getting the good Italian meats for this one. Although Boar’s Head is really good, I think Thumann’s is better. You can pick this brand up at your local BJ’s deli, they are the only super market that carries it, it is also the brand of meat Primo’s uses. Although the specialty meats are more expensive than your generic store brand, you’ll only be buying each meat by the 1/4 pound, so loosen the belt on your pennies and nickles.

 

Hoagie...dip...

  • 1/4 pound sharp provolone cheese
  • 1/4 pound hot capicola ham
  • 1/4 pound cooked salami
  • 1/4 pound mortadella
  • 1/2 cup hot cherry peppers
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • oregano
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 10 small cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 head iceberg lettuce
  • 2 rolls of seeded baguette bread

I suggest investing in a food processor for this, or a really good knife. Chop or process the meat, cheese, peppers lettuce and tomatoes into small pieces. Be careful with the food processor, you don’t want grains of meat, but nice small chunks. Also, I suggest using a knife to chop the lettuce, it’s just easier. Once you’re done with all of that, add the mayonnaise to the dish and mixed up the chopped ingredients. Mix around until the mixture thickens. Now here is the difficult part, make your dip taste like a hoagie. Add the olive oil and vinegar and continue to mix. Now, continue to add oregano until you get that true Italian hoagie feel. Done yet? Ya done?

Take your baguette bread and slice into several thin cylinders, this will be your dipping utensil. It takes a few cracks at perfecting it, but I finally have it down. Questions? EAT.

Stay hungry my friends.