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Chocolate Cake

June 4, 2016

I love trying “foolproof” baking recipes, unintentionally messing them up, and proving that no, they are not foolproof. But this New York Times recipe for Chocolate Dump-It cake actually worked. If a 9 months pregnant lady with a need to pee every 5 minutes, an aching back, and an intense chocolate craving can successfully make this, anyone can.

A few notes: I used a bundt pan because I don’t have a tube pan, worked fine. Definitely take the recipe seriously when it says to generously flour and butter the pan – I thought I did a good job but still had a few chunks missing from the top when I unmolded the cake (which doesn’t really matter because you cover it with icing). I think I’d prefer a little more chocolate and a little less sour cream in the icing, it was a bit too sour for me. And I used the double boiler per the recipe, but you could just as easily melt the chocolate in the microwave and stir in the sour cream later. But all in all, easy, very moist, and delicious. I immediately wished I had purchased raspberries and whipped cream to serve with it. Next time.



Mario’s Spicy Shrimp

January 28, 2016


This recipe appealed to me because it is geared toward those who work in the food industry, as I do. What I didn’t realize is that it would turn out to be an excellent, quick red curry that is easy to alter as you see fit. I served this over chinese egg noodles, but it would be great over rice. I added sliced peppers, you could use whatever vegetable you wanted – eggplant, baby corn, sprouts, whatever. Even the shrimp is up for grabs- make it completely vegetarian, use chicken, pork, or beef, whatever. Thanks Mario.

No Cook Supper: Beans and Tuna

January 6, 2016

Beans and Tuna is a horrible name for a delicious, easy, no-cook supper. I couldn’t come up with anything better though, so Beans and Tuna (B&T?) it is.


B&T – serves 1
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 small red onion, minced
Juice of 1/2 lemon
several filets from jarred Italian tuna in oil (I used Tonnino), rough chopped
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
3 tbsp capers (optional)
1-2 tsp olive oil (only if you feel it needs a bit more glue)

Mix all of these things together. If you have time, chill the bowl for 10-20 minutes. Eat. The end.

Elvis and Aunt Rose: Dueling Pound Cakes

January 6, 2016

I was craving chocolate this week, so I looked through my many, many cookbooks and found nothing chocolate that I wanted to make. I did find two pound cake recipes that looked good, so I figured I’d do a taste test: Elvis Presley’s Favorite Pound Cake vs. Aunt Rose’s Pound Cake, both from the Gourmet Today cookbook (but also available online). Elvis is the larger cake, Aunt Rose the smaller, below.

There are a few main differences between the recipes. For Elvis, you sift the flour three times, add salt and cream, and beat for an extra 5 minutes before baking. For Rose, you only sift once, add cream cheese instead of cream, and no extra beating. (Rose’s batter tasted better, hands down.)

Aside from the sifting (who would have thought I would willingly sift flour three times instead of just skipping that step?), both cakes were easy to make, especially with the aid of my new stand mixer. But which was better?

Up to the taster, really. Elvis has a lighter texture with more vanilla flavor (surprising given that the batter was bland) and is not overly sweet. Rose is very dense from the cream cheese, with a richer, slightly sweeter flavor. I’d say if you’re looking for a pound cake to eat by itself, go with Rose. If you’re looking for a dessert component to serve with whipped cream and raspberries, Elvis is your man.

10 Degree Fettuccine Alfredo

January 5, 2016

Last night I made fettuccine alfredo, because it is 10 degrees here and if you don’t eat something really fattening and delicious, you die.

I’m not posting a picture of my dinner, because truthfully, fettuccine alfredo is pretty gross looking and the sight of it really takes away from how wonderful it tastes.

Here is the recipe, from Giada. Now that I know what a difference the lemon makes in this dish, I’m never making it without. I did not include the nutmeg, because I think that’s stupid.

Italian Wedding Soup

January 4, 2016


It turns out that Italian Wedding soup is pretty easy to make, pretty easy to make a lot of, and pretty easy to make delicious. It is also pretty tasty on a cold winter night.

Italian Wedding Soup:
1 yellow onion, grated and divided into two piles
1 clove garlic, grated and divided into two piles
1 lb ground beef
1/4 cup plus 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/2 cup chopped parsley divided into two piles
1/4 cup milk
1 egg
salt and pepper to taste
tsp olive oil
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups spinach
1 cup ditalini or other small pasta (plus another cup if you like a lot of pasta)
Juice of half a lemon (optional)

Mix the ground beef, half of the onion, half of the garlic, half of the parsley, 1/4 cup parm, bread crumbs, milk, and egg in a bowl until combined. Roll tiny meatballs and place on a plate, then put the plate in the fridge so they can firm up a bit.


Saute the remaining onion and garlic with a teaspoon of olive oil on medium heat. Throw in some salt and pepper, stir for a few minutes. Add the wine, cook for a few minutes until slightly reduced. Add the chicken broth and lemon juice, cook on high until boiling. If you have some time, cover the pot and let it simmer for 30 minutes. If not, turn the heat to medium high, and throw in one cup of uncooked pasta. (If you like more pasta, cook the rest in water in a separate pot – you don’t want too much pasta cooking in the actual soup, it will overwhelm the broth). Then, toss in the meatballs. In about 7 minutes both your pasta and meatballs will be cooked. Throw in the spinach and stir it around, then ladle out the soup and serve, topped with the remaining parm.

The Sub Crawl

January 3, 2016

veltre's.pngThere is a distinct difference between a Pittsburgh hoagie and a Boston sub. For one, you can’t pay someone to bake your Italian sub in Boston – there must be a blue law about it somewhere. You can get a hot steak sub, or a hot meatball sub, but ask someone to throw your Italian sub in the pizza oven for a few minutes and they look at you like you’re from, well, Pittsburgh. (Other differences: Boston subs have pickles, hot peppers, and more meat. Not necessarily bad things, but when you grow up with a hoagie, you’re a hoagie girl for life.)

I’ve become fixated on this difference in the last few months (read: intensely craving a Pittsburgh hoagie), so when I arrived back in my home town for the holidays I announced that I must devour the best sandwich within a reasonable distance. From that, the “sub crawl” was born. My family and I visited three sub shops within 2 hours, each ate 1/4 of each sandwich, and voted on the following metrics, ranked 1-3 (half points allowed):

Authenticity: Hoagie must be baked, and must have Italian dressing, no mayo.
Freshness: Vegetables (lettuce, tomato, onion), must be fresh.
Bread: Must have a baked crunch but be neither too hard nor too soft.
Meat Selection: Turns out that the only meats on Italian hoagies in Pittsburgh are salami and ham, plus provolone cheese. I never realized this. So this category turned into more of a “Meat taste” than meat selection.
Accompaniments: This didn’t factor into the overall score, but we did take note of them.
Price was not factored in, though they ranged from $6.95- 11.25.

Contender #1: Sam’s Subs, Fox Chapel.
Second Runner up with 8 points, mostly due to a poor showing on veg freshness and authenticity. The meats were heated up on the griddle, which gave them a bit of a char, and the actual sandwich wasn’t baked, so the bread was too soft. However, the excellent French fries would be a reason to go back, even though they did not factor into voting.


Contender #2: Italian Village Pizza, Fox Chapel:
First runner up with 9.5 points, only losing to Veltre’s due to vegetables being slightly less fresh. Others also thought there was too much dressing on this sandwich, but I disagree. Extremely tough call between this and our winner. (Also, no accompaniments to this sandwich, though it was a bigger sandwich in general.)

italian village.png

Contender #3: Veltre’s Pizza, Oakmont (pictured at top):
Overall Winner with 10.5 points, this sandwich scored no lower than a 2 in any one category, with a 3 for authenticity and “generous chips” as the accompaniment. Perfect amount of dressing, fresh veg, and nice crust on the bread. Exactly what I was looking for.

So there you have it. If you ever feel like eating a lot of processed meat to get your fix of an authentic Pittsburgh hoagie, run down to Veltre’s and enjoy!

Note: Now that I’m back in Boston, I will say that perhaps the best Boston sub is from Bob’s. And I do enjoy the pickles.