Friday, December 17, 2010

Oh, Holidays, the time to stuff your face.

There is just something about the holidays. Family gathers around a dinner table with mouth-watering dishes, ready to stuff their faces. It’s about ‘slaving’ in a kitchen for hours upon hours, the way your grandma used to do it. It’s about putting your love into the food, awaiting that moment when the first forkful hits their palate. And then you feel this sigh of relief when you hear “Ooooooh, this is so good” or “Wow, how’d you make this, again??”
A dear friend of mine hosted a dinner party recently inspired by the holidays. I was the cook for the evening, of course, and a few of us just got together for some food, wine & laughs. Since we had just gained 10lbs. due to Thanksgiving, I decided to still keep the hearty flavors and dishes, but portioned it all just right.
For appetizer we had Truffle Macaroni & Cheese balls. There were very delicious. Wonderfully crunchy on the outside, light and cheesy on the inside. My only complaint would be that I might have enjoyed some sort of dipping sauce on the side, but I can always consider that in the future.

For entree, we had a Oven-Roasted chicken breast. Simply seasoned with Sea Salt & Black Peppercorn Medley (I really love that stuff. Black, White, Green & Pink Peppercorns. Coriander & Allspice), and rubbed with a little unsalted butter :: The sauce on top is a Basil-Mint Cranberry sauce (my very own recipe). Ridiculously good. Recipe  for it will follow at the end of post :: As a side dish, I baked some Puff Pastry, hollowed out the middle of them with a spoon, and piped in some velvety Sweet Potato mash with hints of Cinnamon, Nutmeg, & Allspice. SO SO good.

And because we cannot leave out dessert, I made a very creamy Pumpkin Pie with chopped walnuts under the filling for texture. Served a la mode, of course! Mmm..

I was able to wear this really cool apron thanks to my lovely and very talented friend Yani (the girl who lets me hosts all these great dinner parties) who actually performs in ensemble in the play. Isn't it awesome?? Thanks for letting me wear it, friend :)

Basil-Mint Cranberry Sauce

1 Package DRIED Cranberries
1/2 cup Orange Juice
1/2 cup Water
1/3 cup Red Wine
4oz. Apricot Apple sauce (apple alone is fine!)
Pinch of Cinnamon
Pinch of Nutmeg
Pinch of Allspice
Sea Salt, to taste
Black Peppercorn Medley, to taste
Fresh Basil, chopped
Fresh Mint, chopped

Place the dried cranberries in a sauce pan, cover with the Orange Juice, Water, & Red Wine. Turn the stove on and bring to a boil (this will help reconstitute the dried berries). Stir in the Apricot Apple sauce. Add all your dry seasonings, let simmer for a few minutes to let all the flavors come together. Right before turning off the stove, add the fresh basil & mint and stir. Then, ready to serve. Enjoy! :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Margherita Pizza.

I'm pretty sure that most of you reading this are from New Jersey. Which means you're in luck if A) you love yourself some pizza and/or B) never heard of Garden Pizza in Fairview, NJ. And if you're not from Jersey, I truly am deeply sorry.

Seriously,  hands down, this is one of my all time favorite pizza crusts ever. Why? Because it's not even that traditional crust that most of the world is used to! IT'S FOCACCIA BREAD. No, really, who was the genius that decided this culinary miracle should occur? There is just something in the simplicity of this Pizza that leaves you wondering, "When am I going to be back?" I'm not quite sure if it's the fresh plum tomato chunks, or the fresh mozzerella oozing all over, or the whole fresh basil leaves running through out. But this is definitely something worth checking out!


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Holidays are here,

Which means a new layout is here too! Thanks to my friend, Anadelia, for making it for me. And thanks for helping me realize that my own cooking SHOULD be my banner.

On another note, there is so much coming your way this month. New recipes I've come up with, places to go check out to eat, as well as some kitchen/food related items worth talking about. So don't forget to stay tuned!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Lots & lots of BEER.

Heartland Brewery in New York. If you're a beer lover, then this is the place for you! I was craving a brewskie before heading back home & went to the Brewery in Port Authority (I've visited one other location, too). I went with the beer sampler this time around. They give you 6 - 8oz. 'House Brews' & 2 - 8oz. 'Seasonal' of your choice all placed in specific order for you to try. And just all for about 15 bucks.
The numbers carved into the wooden holder let you know which beer you're tasting.
  1. Indian River Light - A light pale ale, clean & smooth with accents of fresh orange.
  2. Cornhusker Lager - Golden lager crafted from Midwestern malts & flaked sweet corn.
  3. Harvest Wheat Beer - Straw colored with malted red wheat and 2-row barley. Served with a lemon wedge for a light citrus finish.
  4. Red Rooster Ale - Red ale with Caramel & Munich malts. A rich toffee and toasted nut character.
  5. Indian Pale Ale - Deep golden color, full malt flavor, & zesty hop spice.
  6. Farmer John's Oatmeal Stout : Award Winning hearty, creamy stout with hints of espresso & a dark chocolate sweetness.
  7.  CHOICE 1: Smiling Pumpkin Ale - Autumn colored beer made with honey-roasted pumpkins & infused with cinnamon, clove, ginger & nutmeg.
  8. CHOICE 2: Empire Premium Beer - Pale golden traditional Czech lager with a crisp, dry finish.

Taking a sip out of #3.
Sweet&Savory #6 with espresso & chocolate.

They were all incredibly delicious & refreshing. Getting the sampler is definitely worth it. Now go give these beers a try!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

yumsbyANNIE Costume Contest!

When I logged into Facebook the day after Halloween I saw quite a few people had really great costumes. Monsters, characters from movies & some other things you wouldn't expect, I decided to host a Costume Contest in name of my blog. So I gave it a week to see what other costume pictures would be posted up, I let people vote & finally came up with a GRAND PRIZE winner! (And two runner-ups!)

GRAND PRIZE: Cristy Garcia as Cousin It. (Look at that wig!!!)

1ST RUNNER UP: Johanna Mejia & Michael Cabrera as the Amish couple (hahaha).

2ND RUNNER-UP: Leomar Rodriguez as Chucky (TOO CUTE).

Thank you so much to all the other wonderful costumes that participated. I loved them all and it was seriously a really, really tough decision to make! I hope that the winners both enjoy their yumsbyANNIE prize.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Yummy, yummy Asian food.

It was my cousin Cristina's (the crazy tree climber, lol) birthday yesterday and I promised her I would be cooking her a "very flavorful" meal. We hadn't cooked anything Asian inspired in a very long time, so I decided to go for it. I'm seriously craving this right now; my stomach GROWLS as I type. I should have taken home leftovers when I had the chance, haha.

Let's start off with the Eggrolls. It was my first attempt at making Eggrolls and they came out awesome. So crunchy on the outside, super delicious on the inside. I sauteed some Garlic, Ginger & Scallions in Olive Oil, then added Mushrooms (I used Shitake for my Wonton's and they worked great, you can also use Baby Bella if your Supermarket doesn't provide Shitake), Cabbage, shredded Carrots and toasted Sesame Seeds. Lightly sprinkle Soy Sauce on top and mix it all together to get the filling of your Eggrolls. The sauce is a very simple: Honey & Soy with Garlic & Sesame Seeds. Bring to a boil, then serve.  ***Eggroll wraps are usually found in the Produce section of your local Supermarket. They are very easy to assemble & instructions will be found on the back of the package.

Ah, yes, and now the Entree. I breaded Chicken Tender strips in a Panko breading and deep-fried them. They were incredibly moist on the inside and lightly crunchy on the outside. The sauce oozing all over them consists of Hoison Sauce, Soy Sauce, Orange Blossom Honey, Serrano Chili's, Sesame Seeds, Ginger & Scallions. SO GOOOOOOOD. As for the rice, just simply stir-fried vegetables sauteed in scallions, ginger & garlic & sprinkled with Soy Sauce. Remove the veggies from Pan, add oil, let the oil get VERY hot, then throw in the rice. Toss the rice around in the Wok and then add the veggies, mix it all up & then it's ready to eat!!! (Fried thing on the right of the rice is just another Eggroll.)
I hope you had a very Happy Birthday, Cuzzy. And most importantly I hope you enjoyed your Birthday Meal! I love you so much!!!

I guess in the end, staying in and eating a homecooked meal is far better than going out in this Culinary Wasteland known as Hudson County.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Cupcakes!

My cousin & I (I've noticed most of my blogs have to do with her somehow, haha) decided we were going to bake up some cupcakes and then have the girls, Kim & Ash, help us out in decorating them. We had everything from Vanilla Icing, Mini Chocolate Chips, Gummy Worms, Marshmallows, Red Icing, Toasted Coconut Flakes, Lollipops & Sprinkles. So we got super creative and came up with the following and it was YUMS!!!:

Our entire Cupcake Collection

My Creations.



Friday, October 29, 2010


It's Halloween weekend and the ghouls and goblins are coming out to frighten us all! So while everyone is preping for a big night out, just want to wish everyone a Happy Halloween weekend. Whether it may be with friends or family, be safe & don't drink & drive!

And I leave you with some Pumpkin artwork by my very talented friend, Sean Lugo aka NINE. Don't forget to check out his site for all his other awesome paintings/drawings. CLICK HERE.
Pumpkin Carving by NINE.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I was going through random blogs looking for cool food pictures when I came across a fellow Blogger's "Meat Sections". The whole concept behind the blog is showing different foods/items set up as a "butcher chart" as you would typically find in a meat product, generally beef or pork. Except even color because they're actually the blogger's watercolor paintings. Check out some pictures I liked and here is the link to their actual blog.

This makes me never want to eat a Hot Dog ever again. Or does it?

Marsala Wine, who would have though?

Cinco de Mayo in the Fall.

This was a following to the French Dinner Party. It was the guests turn to choose what we would be having for dinner that evening. Mexican it was, and I couldn't have been happier because Mexican food is seriously the shit. I wanted to make both things they hadn't tried, as well as, things they have tried but with a twist. In all, I made 2 Appetizers, an Entree, and a Dessert. Oh and we can't forget about the Margarita's!

Passion Fruit & Mango Margarita's.

Salsa Verde with Mushrooms, Jalapeno & Poblano Peppers.

On the Top: "Sope" topped with the Salsa Verde & Queso Fresco. The sauce had a nice kick to it; On the Bottom: Quesadilla's filled with Roasted Poblano Peppers, Queso Quesadilla & fresh-cracked Black Peppercorn Medley.

Yani decorated :) Served on the table was also some Sour Cream with Lime Zest for hint of flavor, Queso Fresco, & Freshly-made Guacamole for toppings on whatever you'd like.

Enchiladas with Monterey Jack cheese Golden and oozing all over them.

Enchiladas with Salsa Roja.

For dessert I fried Corn Tortilla and dusted them with Cinnamon Sugar. Then just served Vanilla Ice Cream on top.

If you would like any of the recipes to any of the dishes pictured above, please do not hesitate to contact me via Blogger/Facebook/Email: Thanks!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

MMMMM, Quiche!!

After the French Dinner Party in September I learned how to make Quiche off the top of my head. I picked up a Quiche Baking Dish at Marshall/HomeGood's and felt inspired to make both a Spinach & Onion and Greek inspired Quiche using Zucchini I had left over from my visit to the farm.

The first one I made with Spinach, Onion, & Garlic sauteed in some butter with Sea Salt & Black Peppercorn Medley. Then sprinkled with Jarlsberg Swiss Cheese.

The Greek inspired was some of the same Spinach mixture used above layered with mandolined Zucchini slices on top. Then the whole mixture is topped with my homemade herbed Feta. I crumbled a package of Feta with Lemon Zest and Fresh Oregano.

2 Eggs
1 Cup Heavy Cream
Sea Salt, To Taste
White Pepper, To Taste
(I add White Pepper instead of Black so the actual Egg mixture is flawless and has no specs running through it)

2 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 Sticks of Unsalted Butter, Cubed & Frozen
1/2 Tsp. Salt
1/2 Tsp. Granulated Sugar
8-10 TBSP. Ice Cold Water

In a food processor you add the Flour, Salt, Sugar, & Frozen Butter (please do not forget to freeze the butter, if you don't, you will not get the result of a nice, flaky crust) and pulsate until the butter is combining with the flour and looks about the size of peas. Then gradually add tablespoons of water until the dough is well combined and ready to form into a ball. Then remove the dough, roll it into a ball, plastic wrap and store in the fridge for 30minutes before rolling out.

You can use the Quiche Egg mixture for any recipe that comes to mind! Try different veggies, meats & cheeses and see which one you like best. As for the Pastry recipe, you can also use this with sweet pies. Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

October is for Pumpkin Picking!

My cousin & I hit the road one early Sunday afternoon for some Pumpkin Picking. We didn't quite know what we were expecting of the place but we knew either way, we would be having a lot of fun. I ended up picking & buying a lot of peppers: jalapeno, serrano, habanero, green bell, red bell; eggplants, tomatoes, zucchini, and much more. All in all we had an awesome time at the farm. Yeah, even if it was just the two of us! Here are some pictures of our day:

Pumpkin Field.

I wish it was edible.

Box one of three.

Apple Field

My crazy cousin climbing the Apple Tree!

Hay Tunnel.

AMAZING, AMAZING Pumpkin Ice Cream.

After a looong day, we made it to the top of the Pyramid.

Beyond gorgeous sunset from the top of the Pyramid.

The apple pie was very simple, but definitely good!

Mmm :)

Chester, NJ

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Let's Take a Trip "Around the World"!

Oh, what a night. The guests were starved & I liked that. It only meant they'll be chomping down on my food like crazy. My cousin & I were looking forward to hosting a dinner party at her place that showcased flavors from all around the world. The evening included 5 Appetizers and 1 Dessert, ranging everywhere from France, Italy, Greece, Asia, & Mexico. Here are pictures of the food served that evening.

Ratatouille. Fresh, right out of the oven
Publish Post
Balsamic Vinaigrette waiting to be drizzled all over the Ratatouille

Ratatouille placed upon French Baugette
"Arancini" - Saffron Risotto Balls

Basil Marinara, made with both Red and Yellow Tomatoes

Aracini plated with Dipping Sauce in the Center

Greek Potatoe Tartlets with Herbed Feta (Lemon Zest & Fresh Oregano)

Crispy Wontons. Either Chicken or Vegetable. With Shitake Mushrooms, Garclic, Scallions, Ginger, & Sesame Seeds.

Sesame-Ginger Soy Glaze for the Wontons. (MY FAVORITE!)

RIGHT: Refried Bean Flautas. LEFT: Chiptole Chicken Flautas.

LEFT; Crema Mexicana infused with Lime Zest RIGHT; Queso Fresco

And for the Sweet Surprise at the end, Southern Red Velvet Cake (made with Beets, NO FOOD COLORING), which allegedly was originated at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, NY. That was the last stop of our "trip". Which makes a lot of sense, since we live right across the river ;)

with Cream Cheese icing & dusted with Cocoa Powder

If anyone would like any of the recipes to the photos listed above, please do not hesitate to contact me directly through Blogger, Facebook, and/or email: Thank you!