Category Archives: Favorite Foods / Drinks

And I’m back…with Cap’n Crunch Ice Cream!

Sorry for the long hiatus…I wasn’t sure if I was ever going
to be able to blog again with my crazy schedule, but I’ve missed it. So here I
am…and back with an ice cream recipe. Great for the blazing hot weather that’s
been happening all over the country.

So yeah, I am borrowing inspiration from Top Chef’s Richard
Blais. When he was competing on Top Chef All-Stars (the season he ultimately
won after a second-chance for all the competitors), he was contemplating making
Cap’n Crunch Ice cream, but ended up going with another dessert.

Well what is better than combining a childhood favorite
cereal and one of my favorite desserts, ice cream? Well, I’m sure plenty, but
it’s still a great idea! The final product came out great, with a good texture
and awesome taste of Cap’n Crunch.

Follow the recipe below and enjoy! It’s quite easy to
make! The base can be made the night before, and allowed to cure in the fridge
before freezing. I dropped this into an ice bath and made it as soon as it was
cool…talk about impatient!

Be sure to prep your ice cream maker ahead of time if it’s
one that you need to freeze overnight.

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What’s Needed?:
(Makes about 1.5 quarts of ice cream base, 2 quarts frozen)

– 1 Quart of half and half

– 8 egg yolks

– 1 1/3 cups of granulated sugar

– 1 vanilla bean (I used about 1 Tbsp of Vanilla
Bean Paste instead, since that’s what I had)

– 2 cups of Cap’n Crunch cereal, plain (I was
going to use Crunch Berries, but that would’ve stained the ice cream an odd
blue/green color)

– Pinch of Kosher salt

The How-To:

– In a 3 quart saucepan over medium heat, warm up
the half and half and the kosher salt, as well as the vanilla bean/paste…do not
let this boil, only heat until about 170 degrees or so.

– While that is heating, prep a double bowl ice
bath

– In a large mixing bowl, add the sugar and egg
yolks, and whisk until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture has turned a pale
yellow. It should get quite fluffy as you mix…keep in mind this will give you
quite an arm workout, as it may take a few minutes to get to this stage.

– When the half and half is warm, slowly pour
while whisking into the egg/sugar mixture to temper it. Once it is all fully
mixed, put back into the saucepan and add the Cap’n Crunch (A friend of mine
suggested blending the mixture, then straining later.)

– Let this mixture steep over low heat for about
15 minutes. Then strain, and push the cereal through a fine strainer, adding
this to the ice cream base (blending would have made this easier).

– The mixture should not be chunky…lol. As it heats
to about 170 degrees, it should thicken a little.

– After it reaches this stage, place into the ice
bath and whisk occasionally, until it is chilled. At this point, either let it
cure in the fridge overnight, or freeze in the ice cream freezer immediately.

– When it freezes into a soft-serve consistency,
place into containers and freeze overnight.

– Serve with Crushed Cap’n Crunch or Crunch
Berries, if you want, but it tasted fine without it.

Enjoy!

– Anthony

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Playing Around with…Other Blogs?

Hey all, every so often I come across other interesting posts/recipes from fellow bloggers that I like a lot, or think that you may like. So I’m gonna start sharing them.

 

Macheesmo – Goat Cheese Raspberry Brownies – I really like brownies, and I LOVE goat cheese. The combination just sounds strange, probably even gross to some of you, but you never know until you try something. Check out this recipe from Macheesmo.com, I know I want to try it very soon.

 

The Food in my Beard – Indian Smokehouse Burger – This sounds amazing, and looks awesome too. Indian food may be too strong or unappealing to some, but I find it to be so good! Check out this take on a “burger”, which is served on Naan bread, and instead of the beef, it has a homemade veggie patty (it wouldn’t be traditional Indian if it had beef, of course)

 

Enjoy folks, I’ll be back soon with more new posts.

 

– Anthony

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Boca Bacchanal – Grand Tasting (I’m back, sorta…lol)

Hey everyone! Sorry again…it was a slow month last month, and  with quite a few different things going on in March, I was again left without much time to read other blogs, come up with recipes, or even cook anything worthwhile. Hoping to make the time soon as things are hopefully calming down as April nears. Life takes over sometimes, right? Lol.

I missed out on the opportunity to go to the Grand Tasting event at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival in Miami due to scheduling issues and the tickets selling out on the day I wanted to go in February. I was able to attend the 2011 Boca Bacchanal Grand Tasting event at Mizner Park in Boca Raton though. This was my third time going. It’s always an enjoyable event, with vendors from various wine companies and Boca Raton restaurants giving out samples of some of their best or favorite beverages and foods. And it’s all you can sample…lol. A noticable absence was Bluefin Sushi…that booth was really popular last year, as was Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, also missing this time around.

I didn’t get a chance to try many of the wines due to not feeling great and also having a few things to do after the event, but the ones that I did try were good. A couple of my favorites were from Candoni Wines, which were a Prosecco and a Sparkling Moscato. I’m not very knowledgeable about wine, but these were both crisp, refreshing, and delicious. Check em out!

I also tried a strawberry balsamic vinegar from I Heart Olive Oil (they are a web-based retailer only at this time). It was really tasty and would go great on a salad or as a finisher on a dessert even.

There were quite a few people and several restaurant booths. I was able to sample a wide variety of the foods, but I only got a few pics and descriptions (I was busy walking, snapping pics, trying to eat, and avoid other people at the same time, lol).

Here are a few of the foods that I tried (In order of photo):

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1) Bonefish Grill’s Bang Bang Shrimp – Bonefish is a restaurant chain, and this appetizer is always delicious!

2) Texas de Brazil’s Chimichurri Steak and Truffle Mashed Potatoes – The steak was melt-in-your-mouth tender, and the potatoes were creamy and rich. Amazing!

3) Casa D’Angelo’s Pear and Fig Raviolini/Pasta Pouches – These were really tasty! They were filled with a ricotta, fig, and pear mixture and served with a Sage cream sauce.

4) Rocco’s Taco’s Rock Shrimp Ceviche and Guacamole – This was…just okay? The chips were seasoned pretty well, though the ceviche coulda used a little salt. There was another booth (Brook’s restaraunt) that was serving a BBQ shrimp and corn/guacamole mixture. That was well-seasoned and had a great flavor compared to this. It was still good though. I’ve heard some people who like this place and would give it another shot.

5) Rack’s BBQ Pork Slider – The pork was tender and the sauce was tangy and smokey. It was served with slaw and pickles…it was a good slider!

6) Capital Grille’s Steak – The steak was well cooked (Medium-rare) and the sauce was pretty tasty too. I didn’t see the description, but it looked and tasted like a bearnaise sauce. Caramelized shallot, tarragon, butter, etc.

Other dishes I tried were Mahatma’s (the rice company) lime and coconut rice pudding, La Cucina Mia’s Portabello and cream cavatappi, a red snapper carpaccio with a sweet potato and some other vegetable type of relish, and some chowder and crab cake dishes. Oh, and I also had some good Tiramisu, as well as some mini cupcakes (Red Velvet, and a S’more cupcake…both were awesome!).

All in all, another great time. Next year, I’m going to the SoBeWFF no matter what!

Take care, and I’ll work on getting some recipes written and posted soon…Thanks for the patience and understanding!

Take Care!

– Anthony

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Parmesan and Potato Pizza

Alright, well thanks for hanging on there! I know it’s been a while since my last regular update to the blog, and I’ve definitely been meaning to post this recipe since last month. I have another one after this that I’ve gotta write and edit photos for as well.
I love pizza…anyone else out there feel the same way? Plain cheese, pepperoni, supreme, Hawaiian, “California” style, thin crust, regular crust, deep dish, etc. I decided to make a plain cheese, but had enough dough for two pizzas, so I also decided to use some leftover red potatoes and make a rosemary-parmesan and potato pizza. Potatoes on pizza? I’ve seen similar ideas in restaurants and such, so it’s not such a crazy idea.

What I did was use my mandolin slicer to create paper-thin potato slices that would cook quickly in a hot oven as the crust rose. I seasoned the potatoes with some salt, pepper, olive oil, parmesan cheese, oregano, and thyme. Delicious.

What You’ll Need:
– Pizza dough (use your favorite recipe, or if you have a favorite brand, try it out. I made mine. It was enough for 2 crusts for the 2 pizzas)
– 1 cup warm water (not HOT, or the yeast will not activate)
– 1 package active dry yeast
– 1 Tbsp honey
– 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
– 1/2 tsp kosher salt
– 2 to 2 ½ cups of all-purpose flour (I used closer to 3 because of the humidity, and the dough was too wet as it kneaded) plus extra for rolling

– About 1 ½ to 2 cups Mozzarella cheese, give or take depending on how much you like
– ½ cup Parmesan cheese, divided into 2 portions
– About 2 tsp oregano (dried)
– About 2 tsp thyme (dried)
– 2 large red potatoes
– ½ cup extra virgin olive oil (more or less)
– ¼ tsp kosher salt
– ¼ tsp black pepper (more or less)

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The How-To:
– Make the dough ahead of time, at least to the stage where it is ready to use. This will depend on the recipe if you are making your own. I made mine and let it go through the 2 rising stages for at least 3 hours.
o Combine the warm water, honey, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix for a few seconds. Let sit until the yeast blooms (activates), during which you should see little plumes of yeast start to appear in the mixture. This will take 5-10 minutes.
o Attach the dough hook to the mixer
o After the yeast is activated, add the salt and olive oil. Mix briefly, then slowly add the flour ½ cup at a time, with the mixer on low. Let it knead until it starts to form a ball and is pulling away from the sides of the bowl. It should look smooth and only be slightly sticky. This could take about 5-7 minutes. Place in an oiled bowl and cover.
o Let the dough rest for about 1 ½ to 2 hours, then punch it down. I then separated it into two halves, formed a ball for each, then placed on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. I covered each ball and let them rise again for another hour before using.

– When ready, PREHEAT OVEN to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and flour a large cutting board or clean countertop. Take one dough ball and roll it out to your desired thickness. I rolled these out to about ¼ inch thick. Make sure to flour the board, the dough, and rolling pin (if using) just enough to prevent sticking. Press the dough with your fingertips to make dimples in the dough.
– When the dough is rolled out, spread a few tablespoons of Olive oil on the dough evenly. Then use half of the oregano, thyme, and parmesan and sprinkle evenly around the oiled crust
– Using a mandolin (or a sharp knife and a keen eye), slice the potatoes on the thinnest setting. Spread these potatoes on the crust in a single layer, not overlapping too much to prevent undercooking part of them.
– Drizzle more oil on the potatoes (lightly), then season them using some salt and pepper, and the rest of the oregano, thyme, and parmesan.
– Bake until the crust is golden, and the potatoes and cheese are brown. This should be about 12 minutes, but check to your desired doneness.
– ENJOY! (For the cheese pizza, I used leftover marinara, but use your own favorite sauce and cheese. Or try out some other types of toppings!)

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Interesting ice cream idea…

Okay, I know I had a poll a few weeks back on what flavor ice cream to make. Thanks to all of you for suggestions. On the actual survey I got 3 responses, but got several more from you personally, including: Pistachio, plum, anything chocolate, etc.

I definitely think all of those are great ideas. I will consider them. I will also probably focus on the Bananas Foster ice cream, White Chocolate Peppermint ice cream, and the cookie pieces ice cream soon.

I was thinking…chocolate covered bacon ice cream, maybe with some maple flavor? LOL, too crazy?

Just a random thought.

What do you think? Comment back.

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What a Soup-er Idea: Pumpkin & Butternut Squash Soup

YES, the cheesy heading has returned. Sorry it’s so late, but after the few days off for Thanksgiving, and the multiple posts that I did that weekend, I got reeeealllly busy when I headed back to work.

This is a soup I kinda took inspiration from by watching a couple seasons of Top Chef and a few Food Network shows about 3 or 4 years ago…or somewhere around there. This was when I was first starting to learn how to cook. I’ve made it every Thanksgiving since then.

 It’s really a simple soup, with the basic soup ingredients such as celery, onion, carrot, and broth/stock. It’s a puree style soup, meaning it is thicker and creamier than regular soups that aren’t blended. A small touch of cream makes it slightly rich, but nothing overpowering. And since I usually make this at Thanksgiving, I put in some cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg. Not enough to make this a liquid pumpkin pie, but enough to remind you of the season. Plus, those spices are amazing with the pumpkin/squash. And again, this is by memory. The ingredients below are approximate, besides the pumpkin and the squash. The rest can be played with a little.

 What You’ll Need:

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**Note**: Getting all of the ingredients that need to be chopped/sliced/cut/etc. done before starting to assemble the soup, aka mise en place, will save you time.

– 2 small Pie Pumpkins (usually available at the stores during the holiday season), or a one medium pumpkin (the kind you carve, lol)

– 2 small butternut squash

– 5-6 stalks of celery (about 2 cups chopped)

– 4 or 5 carrots (about 2 cups chopped)

– 3 small sweet onions, roughly cubed

– 4 or 5 cloves garlic, chopped

– 8 cups of chicken stock/broth (or vegetable, if you want to keep it vegetarian)

– 6-7 strips of thick cut bacon, cut into thin strips (optional if you want to keep it vegetarian)

– ½ tsp dried thyme, or a few springs of fresh thyme

– 1 tsp cinnamon powder (add in slowly, taste the soup, add more or less if you wish)

– ½ tsp all-spice powder

– ground or freshly grated nutmeg (add a small pinch or a few grates, and go light on this, otherwise it will be dessert)

– Heavy cream, about ¼ cup, or more or less, depending on how rich you want the soup

– Kosher salt

– Black Pepper

– Oil (canola or olive oil, avoid extra virgin for high temp cooking)

 The How-To:

 ***NOTE***: I prepared the pumpkin and squash differently this year, hoping to get it cooked more evenly and more quickly. This turned out to be a mistake because as I peeled and cubed the squash, especially the butternut, the sap of the skin or the starches in the vegetable coated my hand and caused a strange reaction. My hand appeared to dry out and looked like it was chapped, and my fingers went numb…like I couldn’t straighten them out. I searched for this reaction online immediately and found that others have had the same reaction.

If you are going to peel and cube the squash, wear some food prep gloves just in case. Otherwise, just cut both the pumpkins and the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and roast for a longer period until the flesh inside is tender.

The pictures will show the vegetables cut up and cubed, but I will put the recipe as I have done in the past to avoid the reaction in any of you.

Steps 1-7 can be done the night before and the pumpkin/squash cubes can be cooled and then stored in airtight containers in the fridge. Otherwise, start early before wanting to prep the soup so that the squash is ready to go.

1: Preheat an oven to 375 degrees

2: Cut the tops and bottoms off of the pumpkins and squash

3: Cut each pumpkin and squash in half, then scoop out the seeds using a spoon

4: Drizzle some canola or olive oil inside the squash and coat (try to avoid extra virgin here to avoid smoking in the oven)

5: Season the pumpkin and squash flesh with some kosher salt and black pepper

6: Roast in the oven on sheet trays with the rack just below the center for about an hour, (give or take depending on the tenderness), or at least until soft

7: Let cool for an hour or so, until room temperature, then either store in the fridge, or put aside to use in the soup (refrigerate if you aren’t going to use right away after cooling to avoid food safety issues)

8: In a large stock or soup pot, or even an enameled cast iron pot, add some canola or olive oil

9: (Optional step if using bacon) Heat over medium-low heat, then when the oil is ready, about 3-5 minutes, add the bacon and slowly render out the fat. You can leave the bacon in at this point, as I’ve done in the past, or this year, render until crisp, drain on a paper towel, and serve it as a crispy garnish to the soup

10: Turn the heat up to medium or medium-high. Add the onions, garlic, celery, and carrots to the bacon drippings (or if you’re really health conscious, drain the bacon drippings first, then add fresh canola or olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot)

11: Cook the vegetables until they start to become tender, and the onions begin to become translucent. Add the thyme at this point.

12: Add the roasted squash and stir, cook for a minute or two.

13: Add the broth, whichever you like, and stir the soup. Cook over medium heat for about 30 minutes, stirring. At this point, add the cinnamon, all-spice, and nutmeg. Season appropriately with salt and pepper as well.

14: Either blend the soup in the pot using an immersion blender (a hand blender), or in half-full blender carafes, blend in batches and transfer blended soup to another pot on a low burner.

***SAFETY NOTE***: Blending hot liquids or soups with a closed lid will create steam and could blow the top off of the blender, splattering the soup around. Take the pouring guard out of the blender top and cover with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel.

15: Holding the top down and covering the opening, PULSE the soup a couple times, then start on low speed and work up. Puree for about 30 seconds, or until smooth. Repeat with the rest of the soup, transferring the blended soup to the other pot.

16: Add the cream to the pureed soup, and cook for about 15 more minutes. Season to your tastes (salt, pepper, spices, etc). If it is too thick, add more broth to thin out to your preference.

Serve as is, or add the bacon (or even some small toasted croutons) on top for some texture

Happy Belated Thanksgiving again, haha. Enjoy!

 – Anthony

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Say Cheese(cake): Pumpkin Cheesecake

Okay, so all these headings themselves are a big ball of cheese. Sue me, lol.

Who out there has eaten WAAAAY too much already? Lol. Count me in that crowd.

I love pumpkin anything. As I raved about in my “Wabbit Season!…Duck Season!…Wabbit Season!…Pumpkin Season” post, I definitely enjoy eating various foods made with pumpkin, whether savory or sweet. The first pumpkin dish I made this month was pumpkin cheesecake. Creamy, rich, and a sign of the season.

I didn’t make this dish for Thanksgiving, but I did make it for a cultural diversity potluck at work this past Monday. I got some positive response from coworkers, so I’m guessing it turned out well. It was almost another Cooking Fail due to some small mistakes made here and there (i.e. not buying graham crackers for the crust, and not putting the scant amount of flour into the cheesecake batter).

You’ll see some smaller, individual-sized cheesecakes in the pictures next to the large one. Those were made for testing purposes, and to make sure I had some left at home. All were made with the same crust and filling. This yields a semi-thick cheesecake, but not really the texture of a New York cheesecake, which is think and very rich. This is thicker than pumpkin pie, but thinner than a stiffer NY cheesecake.

And yes, finally, this one does have a concrete recipe. It’s probably why I don’t always do so well with baking/pastry/dessert stuff. I’m a non-measurer, so it takes a lot of discipline to follow instructions. Haha.

 Ingredient List:

 Filling:

– 3 (8oz) packages of cream cheese (room temperature)

– 1 ½ cups granulated sugar

– 3 eggs and 1 egg yolk (room temperature)

– 1 15oz can of pumpkin puree (not the pumpkin pie filling)

– 1 tsp vanilla extract

– ½ to 1 tsp ground cinnamon (depending on how much cinnamon you like)

– ¼ tsp ground allspice

– freshly grated nutmeg (just a few short grates, not a lot), or 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

 Crust (Graham Cracker):

I didn’t make this one, because I forgot the crackers, but if you’re a traditionalist…

– 1 ¾ cups graham cracker crumbs

– 3 Tbsp packed brown sugar

– ½ tsp ground cinnamon

– small pinch of salt

– 1 stick of melted butter (I prefer unsalted if you add the salt to the crust)

 Alternate Crust (Shortbread):

I made this last minute because I didn’t have the ingredients to make a graham cracker crust, and I like shortbread crusts as well.

– 1 stick of butter (room temperature)

– ¼ to ½ cup granulated sugar

– 1 ½ cups of all-purpose flour

– 1 large egg (room temp, beaten)

– Zest of 1 small lemon

 The Steps:

 (Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit)

 Crust (Graham cracker instructions): This is the one I did not make this time

 1: Break up graham crackers (or use pre-crushed crumbs) and measure out the 1 ¾ cups needed. Place in a bowl

2: Add cinnamon, sugar, pinch of salt, and butter

3: Combine until the mixture looks like wet sand

4: Press into a springform pan evenly across the bottom, and 1 inch or so up the sides

5: Place into oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes (it varies, check so that it does not dry out or overbake)

6: Take crust out of the oven, and let cool before adding filling

 

 

Crust (Shortbread instructions): I made this instead because I didn’t have graham crackers

 

1: Place room temperature butter in a bowl.

2: Add the lemon zest, beaten egg, sugar, and flour

3: Combine the ingredients until it resembles wet, sandy dough

4: Press the crust evenly into a springform pan and about 1 inch up the sides of the pan

5: Prick the crust all over with a fork so that it will not bubble as much

6: Bake in oven until it just starts to brown (varies by oven, but check at about 10-15 minutes)

7: When it starts to brown, take the crust out of the oven and let cool before adding filling

 

Cheesecake filling:

1: In the bowl of a stand mixer (or if using a hand mixer, a large metal or glass bowl), open all 3 packages of room temperature cream cheese. To the cheese, add the sugar, then beat. Start on low to combine, then turn up the speed to medium and mix until the cream cheese and sugar have become fluffed up, probably 3-4 minutes, or when you feel it is there.

2: To this mixture, add the vanilla, eggs and egg yolk, and dry spices. Mix slightly until combined, then add in pumpkin mixture and flour. Mix until smooth and combined, probably another minute or two.

 

Note: Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure that all of the cream cheese is evenly mixed in.

3: Pour mixture into baked crust and smooth out using a spatula.

4: Bake for one hour at 350 degrees until the center has set, but still slightly jiggles when you move it. It shouldn’t be moving freely, but just a little. If it’s moving a bit, let it bake for a few minutes more, then check again.

5: After the cheesecake is done, take out and let cool for a bit, maybe an hour, then let chill covered in the fridge overnight if possible. Let it cool before trying to remove from the springform pan, otherwise you may have more difficulty. (I only got a picture of the smaller ones, but the big one turned out fine as well)

 

Note: Some people choose to do a water bath. I didn’t on this one and it didn’t crack, however you can if you’d like. To do so, wrap the bottom of the springform in a couple layers of foil (to avoid leakage), place in a deep baking dish, and surround the pan with boiling water, an inch of two up the side of the pan.

Alright folks, enjoy. I know Thanksgiving has passed, but try this out for yourself for any other occasion. It doesn’t even have to be a holiday! Just for eating purposes, haha.

– Anthony

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