Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bake Sale Cookbook by Sandra Lee

Allen got me Sandra Lee's Bake Sale Cookbook when it was released a few months back and I love it. I watch Sandra Lee on Food Network, own many of her cookbooks, and have a subscription to her magazine, Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade. I like Sandra's approach of semi-homemade recipes that are quick, easy and great tasting. Sorry purists, shortcuts are good and necessary in the real world. This cookbook incorporates all these components and while I do not plan to bake in this heat in my un-air conditioned apartment kitchen in da bronx, I will resume my love for baking in September. I think these recipes are so great for hosting a bake sale for your favorite charity or for hosting a kick-ass dessert PARTY! If you have kids there are great ideas in this cookbook so get baking with the kiddies and have fun!

In this lovely cookbook, there are lots of recipes for cakes, tarts, pies, cheesecakes, truffles, cookies, bars, brownies, sundaes, muffins, parfaits, and more... Sandra Lee also provides tips for decorating gift bags and how-to's for dressing up cakes. I have been learning to do this myself and plan to step up the ante in future baking. I love frosting and prefer it to fondant but realize decorating is an art, and I am not an artist but a darn good baker. Fondant doesn't taste as good as frosting so I like that the recipes use frosting. Finding a few recipes to highlight is not an easy task since I will make all of these recipes no matter how long it takes me. That is why I love having cookbooks since you can use them for years, and there are many celebrations, birthdays, holidays and get togethers with family and/or friends which give you the opportunity to bake away.

I love the White Chocolate-Orange Chessman Cheesecake which would be great for a family dinner and the presentation is just beautiful. The same goes for the White Chocolate Brownie-Bottom Cheesecake which looks heavenly. I love pie and don't you too? The Triple Blueberry Pie looks so yummy. OMG, the Caramel-Apple Muffin Melts looks sinfully rich and divine. The Lemon-Filled Coconut Cupcakes scream summer time and look so pretty. I bet they taste great too! For a prime time (Oops, Guy Fieri love kicked in) chocolate coconut fix, the Crunchy Cocoa-Coconut Cookies look like a slam dunk! The Chocolate-Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes are adorable as are the Root Beer Cupcakes. Wow! The Opera Cake is great for a dinner party and gets an A+ for presentation. I hope I can make mine look that sexy. The Black-Russian Cake looks so rich and decadent. I think my new favorite cake is going to be the White Chocolate Macadamia Cake. I could go on but I won't. You will just have to but one for yourself. Get your bake on!

-Sophia/Two Frys

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Bronx Tale Dinner, Caesars, Palladium Ballroom

A Bronx Tale Dinner with Chazz Palminteri
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Caesars, Palladium Ballroom, Atlantic City, NJ.

Poster for the dinner
A few weeks ago, we get an envelope in the mail that reads "An offer you won't refuse." The offer was an invitation for A Bronx Tale Dinner with Chazz Palminteri at Caesars, Palladium Ballroom on Saturday, July 23, 2011. Of course we would oblige and we were very excited to attend the dinner and we also saw the show.

The lovely table we sat at
This was an Italian family style dinner and all the food was served on huge platters and was passed around the table for all to share. Up to 12 people were seated at each table and ours had 10 people. We had a really great time interacting with the others at our table and the music was great.

Live band that performed this evening
The live band performed throughour the evening and alot of people got up and danced. The band was really great and played lots of oldies and current hits that got the crowd going. I really enjoyed seeing the older couples dancing. So romantic.

Chazz Palminteri spoke to the diners for a few minutes about A Bronx Tale
Chazz Palminteri graced the stage and audience for just a few minutes and told us all to come see the show. Chazz explained the film stems from the show Robert De Niro saw him perform that later turned into the movie. A Bronx Tale is one gem of a film so if you have not seen it you should.

Me and Allen having a wonderful time
A week before my husband got the dinner invitation, he received an invite to come see the show and stay over at Caesars so we went to see it afterwards at Circus Maximus Theatre. We were not disappointed! This one-man show was great.

Pretty vase with red roses
Hundreds of people attended this event and each table was beautifully decorated with a pretty vase with roses. The room decor was really nice, inviting and festive. Caesars really does a wonderful job with these events.

Antipasti Platter

Allen's plate
The appetizer course was an Antipasti Platter and Assorted Fresh Bread Basket. Allen enjoyed the bread selection especially the onion and sesame soft bread sticks. The antipasti platter had prosciutto, salami, pancetta, ham, mozzarella balls, some other cheeses, black and green olives, spicy pickled peppers stuffed with cheese and meat.

Caesar Salad
Allen's first bite of Caesar salad
 The second course consisted of Caesar Salad, which was delicious.

Chicken dish with sauce and veggies

Salmon dish with asparagus and cherry tomatoes
The main course was chicken breast in sauce with vegetables and for seafood lovers baked breadcrumb-crusted salmon served with asparagus and cherry tomatoes. I had the chicken and it was good. Allen had the salmon, and said it was amazing and had a very light and delicious texture.

Pasta dish
The pasta dish was penne with vegetables and mozzarella balls. A selection of Italian desserts were served such as cannoli, tiramisu, ladyfingers, amaretto cookies, biscotti, and chocolate covered cherries in amaretto liqueur.

-Sophia and Allen/Two Frys

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Guy Fieri Food Cookbook Review

Guy Fieri Food
Cookin' It Livin' It Lovin' It
By Guy Fieri with Ann Volkwein

I am proud owner of the first edition of Guy Fieri's new cookbook, Guy Fieri Food Cookin' It Livin' It Lovin' It. This beautiful tome is a must have for Fieri fans. I am captivated by the vibrant beauty and layout that compliments Guy’s rock star, chef personality. I would say Guy Fieri Food is 100% representative of how "off the hook" Guy is. The tattoo-filled illustrations, photography, and layout are gorgeous, and a whopping 408 pages. There are over 150 recipes, and each looks "dynamite." It also helps that I have watched a number of these recipes on Guy's Big Bite so I have a visual guide as well in my head. When you open the book, you will see a dedication page Guy wrote in honor of his sister Morgan who recently passed away. Guy discusses how his culinary life took off from his young years to today and there are plenty of Fieri family photos to enjoy.

Taking the reader through this culinary tome is "out of bounds." The introduction features 32 pages and kicks off with the opening of his first restaurant, Johnny Garlics. Guy's parents, Jim and Penny share a few words, and the photos of Guy as a kid are priceless. Guy talks about The Next Food Network Star and how that all went down. There are a bunch of photos with captions on the set of Guy's Big Bite. Guy also talks about his road show tour, and introduces Korina from Knuckle Sandwich whom he credits with some recipe inspiration. We get a detailed 12-page look into his awesome home kitchen, and equipment he uses, preferred pantry items, etc.

Recipes start out with no other than Guy's Appe-Tapas. Everything looks delicious especially the Bacon-JalapeƱo Duck, Shrimp-n-Potato Spinach Tostados, Sangria-Glazed Shrimp, Ahi Won Tacos, Ginger Pork Pot Stickers and Cilantro-Wrapped Shrimp with Spicy Pickled Pineapple. The Soups chapter offers 8 soup recipes and I want to make Grilled Chicken Tortilla Soup with Tequila Crema and Ginger Soup. There are several Salad recipes I plan to make, such as Green Papaya Salad with Lemongrass Chicken and Queen Korinas Salad. Guy is a self-professed king of sandwiches and there are plenty of recipes to satisfy the sandwich fanatic. I think I will try the Sloppy Joes with Maui Onion Straws first followed by Morgan's Veggie Patties.

Guy Fieri says Pizza and Pasta "are probably two of the most important ace-in-the-hole comfort foods in my life." The recipes in this chapter show the love and I cannot wait to make his Pizza Dough and pizza recipes. Fieri Spaghetti and Meatballs look so yummy-licious and is very similar to my homemade recipe and I will try his recipe to see how it measures up to mine. I want to cook every recipe from this chapter especially Guy's Linguine and Clams, and Weird Spaghetti.

Like Mr. Fieri, I also love poultry especially chicken thighs. The recipes I want to make first are Yakitori Chicken, Oak Town Garlic Vinegar Chicken, and BBQ Duck Fried Rice, which Allen and I saw him demo live at the 2010 Food Network Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival. Guy is a POP (Pal of Pork) and so are we. Oink, oink! Two recipes that stand out are Guy's Pork-Oulet and Nor Cal Carnitas.

The chapter Beef and Lamb covers a diverse collection of recipes. It is hard to choose which recipes I want to cook first since they all look so divine. Two I am very excited to try are Lamb Chops with Marsala-Blackberry Sauce and Gaucho Steak with Four-Herb Chimichurri. There are many recipe options in the Seafood section. Standouts are Chorizo Clams, Tex Wasabis Koi Fish Tacos, and Nor Cal Cioppino.

One of my favorite parts of this cookbook is the chapter Vegetables and Sides. I love veggies and appreciate the care Guy took to create recipes utilizing vegetables in an exciting way showing how versatile they are. I will work my way to cooking all the veggie dishes, especially Kale with Roasted Beets and Bacon, Szechuan Green Beans, and Asian Fried Quinoa "C.R. Bipim Delight." Guy's sides are perfect pairings for many meat, poultry or seafood dishes.

Guy is a family oriented person who loves to work with his kids and it is no surprise to find a section called For Kids in this cookbook. Even his son Hunter shares some words. The photos of Guy cooking with his family are so great. There is a step by step how to guide on making Guy's Pepper Jack Pretzels. I plan to make Guy-talian Nachos, and Hot Weiners, Rhode Island Style. Like Guy's son Hunter, I love meatballs and Hunter's Hero looks amazing.

The chapter Guy's Sauces, Rubs and Marinades are all ones to try in your cooking such as making your own Chili Sauce, Teriyaki Sauce, and Blackening Spice Rub. For the cocktail enthusiasts, there are plenty of drinks to satisfy. Guy delivers some very tasty looking desserts for your family to enjoy like his Guy's Irish Dream Cheesecake and Coffee Bananas Foster.

I treasure this cookbook and know we will enjoy the recipes for years to come.

-Sophia/Two Frys