a quest to ditch the college grub and get in the kitchen

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cooking for the stars…a girl can dream

When I came back to my apartment today, I plopped myself down on the couch and listened to my stomach grumble. And growl. And gurgle. Clearly, after a couple classes, strength and conditioning, and soccer practice, I was a bit hungry.

I started to check my emails and do some stuff on my computer while I debated what to eat. Sitting on the couch, tired and hungry, got me day-dreaming about having a personal chef. How nice would that be right about now?

LeBron James – as I learned after reading The Huffington Post’s article, “Cooking for LeBron James,” has his very own chef that creates meals that are both healthy and delicious specially for him. Can’t you just share him for one night, LeBron? The mahi-mahi with mango salad the chef prepared for him looked SO good, and the video was simple and short enough to make me wanna try it out! I loved how Chef Brandon was very easy going, quick, and relaxed in his cooking. (Maybe it was all the palm trees around him…)

After I returned back to reality, I realized I was still sitting on the couch, with an unhappy and noisy stomach. Time to solve that problem…

….Chef Brandon WHERE ARE YOU??!??

rain, rain go away

On this rainy, cold Wednesday evening, let me know what you’re CRAVING while cuddled up on the couch reading a book or watching your favorite tv show…

Maybe the winner will inspire a new recipe and kitchen adventure!

CHECK IT OUT: milano’s deli & catering

Location: 41 Montgomery St., Jersey City, NJ

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If you have not been downtown to the waterfront to Milano’s Deli, you are surely missing out! Fair warning – if you go during lunch hours, the line will take up the entire length of the store! No matter what the weather or the day, Milano’s always has a crowd going in to stand on line, and a crowd coming out with smiling faces and full bellies.

I was brave enough to go at 12 noon exactly, and although the line was to the back of the store and looped around, it moved quickly and the sights and smells of all the food kept me busy while I waited.

The menu changes daily at Milano’s, with a few popular dishes, such as Chicken Arugula, remaining the same.

FYI—Chicken Arugula: breaded chicken cutlets, fresh mooz, juicy tomatoes, basil – all served on a bed of arugula and drizzled with olive oil and baslamic vinegar…why wouldn’t you want to eat THAT? (I was sold, and it was DELICIOUS!)

Milano’s serves hot and cold food and sandwiches, among other things such as special salads, pastas, and soups. They are open 7am-4pm, Monday through Friday only. Do yourself a favor and try it out!!

Does anyone else have any other recommendations or their favorite dishes at Milano’s? Let me know, I’ll definitely be going back!

BEWARE: addicting!

This recipe comes with a warning, from me, not from Martha Stewart, who is its creator.

THESE ARE ADDICTING!

This recipe is SUPER easy! A couple of ingredients throw together on top of graham crackers and TA DAH…a crunchy, sweet, yummy, and irresistible treat!


 

it’s TIME to EAT!

I had some free time before soccer practice today, and my stomach was rumbling and grumbling for some eats. I picked up some garlic, red and green peppers, and an onion at the store, took the boneless chicken breasts out of the fridge, and went to work in the kitchen…

I started by slicing the peppers and onions. And also boiling a pot of water for some pasta.

 

 

Then I beat two eggs together in a bowl with a splash of milk, salt, and pepper. I took some regular, Italian style breadcrumbs from the cabinet and put some on a plate. I coated the bottom of a pan with canola oil and let it heat up while I dipped the chicken in the egg, and then in the breadcrumbs to make chicken cutlets. A little messy, but pretty simple.

TIP! To test to see if the oil is ready to cook the chicken, take a pinch of breadcrumbs in your hand and sprinkle them in the oil. If they immediately sizzle and bubble, the oil is hot enough and you can put your chicken in. If it just floats, wait a few more minutes.

 

I preheated the oven to 250 degrees, just to keep the chicken warm after I cooked it. After the pasta was done, I tossed it straight into a bowl with a little bit of butter, olive oil, garlic pepper, and salt. Then I started to cook the peppers and onions in the pan with some olive oil and chopped garlic, until they were soft, tender, and delicious!

 

I tossed the sweet peppers and onions with the pasta, plated it with the warm, crunchy, juicy chicken cutlets, and IT WAS TIME TO EAT!!

mama knows best

This past Sunday morning, my mom was cooking a frittata for breakfast and the smells filling my nose decided to ask her a few questions about food and cooking. After all, she has kept my stomach satisfied for 20 years!


Q&A with Mrs. Barbara Lisanti – she’ll be using her alias “Mama”

Jamie: What are some tips that you you’ve gathered over the years for quick, simple, and easy cooking?

Mama: Some things I’ve gathered to make meals easier is to buy ingredients for a recipe that are already prepared, like pesto, which is available in most food stores. It’s much easier than making your own from scratch. When you combine it with pasta it is a great meal.

J: I love pesto. We buy the one from Costco right?

M: Yes.

J: Any other tips?

M: Adding onion soup mix to meatloaf gives it great flavor and its easy.

J: Soup mix! Got it. What is your favorite part about cooking, or your favorite meal to make?

M: Cooking can be very relaxing when you have the time to do it. My favorite part is cooking for a crowd and having everyone enjoy eating it afterwards. I love to cook any pasta kind of recipe, its usually easy and feeds a crowd!

J: Very true, and your pasta dishes are yummy! What is one recipe you can suggest for me to take back to the apartment and cook?

M: Cavatelli and broccoli. (If you don’t think that “C” word can even be a food, click the link!) It takes four ingredients – pasta, broccoli, garlic, and olive oil – and you’ve got dinner!

4 Ingredients? That was enough for me. Adding that to the list, along with soup mix and pesto.

Does anyone else have any tips? Feel free to share!!

CHECK IT OUT: lucky farmer’s market

Location: 718 Bergen Avenue, Jersey City, NJ

I stumbled over this place yesterday afternoon, and I am glad I did! Although from the outside it may not seem like anything special, Lucky Farmer’s Market is the one-stop shop for all of your produce and grocery necessities.

Apples, bananas, oranges, pineapples, grapes, kiwi, mangoes, strawberries, green peppers, red peppers, potatoes, garlic, papaya, coconuts, broccoli, onions, watermelon, avocadoes…THE LIST GOES ON! This store had everything, and it was fresh and CHEAP!


In the back, there is a refrigerated section where you can pick up necessities such as milk, eggs, and butter. There is also a corner of the store with racks of essential pantry items and tons of ethnics foods and sauces. There is a whole table full of fresh herbs – everything from a bunch of basil to rosemary and parsley – and a refrigerated case of pre-packed vegetables for quick and easy meals. By the cash register you’ll find a variety of nuts, dried fruits, and candies.

Walk over and take a look around, I’m sure you’ll find something!

showin’ some love for your sweet tooth

Valentine’s Day is here, so I decided to MAKE my gifts this year instead of buying them. I decided to make variety of different chocolates and sweets to satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth…

The line-up: Oreo cookie balls, cheesecake balls, and chocolate covered pretzels!

Oreo cookie balls – a thing of cream cheese, a thing of Oreos, and chocolate to melt

This is so simple and easy. Put the Oreos in a plastic baggie and smash, crush, bang, hit, throw it around, do WHATEVER you can to crumble up the oreos into cookie crumbs. Mix the cream cheese and oreos, and then roll it into balls and set them in the fridge for an hour.


After I started to roll them, it did get pretty messy. CHECK OUT MY HANDS!!!

I melted some chocolate, and then dipped them in there. And I also got a little fancy and topped them with some left over cookie crumbs from the bag 🙂

Here’s the dark chocolate ones ready to set in the fridge, with the milk chocolate ones the background:

Next task: cheesecake balls. (Note, I changed the recipe a little bit and only made a few.)

I got a small container from Wal-mart with two slices of plain cheesecake in them. I scooped out little balls and rolled them to shape them, rolled them in crushed graham crackers, and then let them set in the fridge. I used the left over chocolate I had from the Oreo ones, and started dipping! I decided to get fancy again, I couldn’t help myself!

I had extra chocolate, and pretzels lying around, so I made some chocolate covered pretzel rods too! I know, I went overboard, but I started to get into this!

The hard part: trying not to eat all of these goodies before I give them away for Valentine’s Day…

look at all the boxes…

I emptied out the cabinets and drawers in my apartment and look at what I found! Once I put this all out on the table, the cabinets were basically bare…a tell-tale sign that it’s time to get in the kitchen and cook some REAL food. (Not to mention I didn’t even open the freezer…)

I went home for a day this weekend to visit my family, and I grabbed a few cookbooks that were gathering dust in the closet in my living room. Hopefully I can put these to good use, I flipped through them all and found some recipes that caught my eye and gave me some ideas for some dinners.

Pasta with some basil, mooz, onions, tomatoes, and some other stuff – all baked together in the oven…YUM!

Good ol’ chicken parm – I don’t think I even need a recipe for this. I’ve watched my mom make this a thousand times, a few different ways, and I know my roommates will enjoy it. Definitely a good choice.

There was also a recipe for homemade waffles and sausage – this could be a good idea, dinner for breakfast? There could be a ton of options with that, and its way better than cereal!!

The one cookbook had a whole section for burgers…we have a George Foreman in the apartment, so this could be a good one. Doesn’t that burger look delicious?

I also want to try to make some classic appetizers, like potato skins, and classic dinners, like lasagna or simple sandwiches. Another task I will certainly be tackling: ditching the boxed brownies and cake mixes, and getting my Betty Crocker on. I’m thinking some brownies, chocolate cake, cookies – ANYTHING decadent and delicious!! Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day…