Monday, February 21, 2011

Sunday Dinner

 In my family, Sunday is a day that we all get together and go to my Aunt Joyce’s house for dinner. Every Sunday the food is different but the amazing people and entertainment of my cousins never change. The usual group is just my family, my aunt and uncle, and my cousin Misty and her family however, every once in a while a few other aunts, uncles, and cousins show up too. This Sunday we gathered to celebrate my Aunt Joyce’s birthday and the food was to die for!

My uncles and cousins grilled seventeen succulent steaks. We had cheesy, delicious garlic bread, fresh and steamy baked potatoes, warm baked beans and a great salad. However, one of the best items we had was jalapenos stuffed with cream cheese, wrapped in juicy bacon, and cooked to perfection. They were unbelievable and so mouth-watering I could have eaten a whole tray.

For dessert, there was a chocolate and a carrot cake, vanilla, chocolate chip, and mint chocolate chip ice cream to choose from. I decided to have a small piece of chocolate cake and a small piece of carrot cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. I love chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream but that carrot cake was incredible. It was sweet, moist, and so flavorful. With all this wonderful food, I felt like it was my birthday too!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Melly's Cake

My friend Melissa, who we call Melly, makes the best cake in the entire world. Every bite makes your mouth water and tingle with delight. Because it is my favorite, she makes it for my every year on my birthday—and every once in while too. I am usually a nice, caring person but when it come to this cake I become very, very greedy.

The actual cake is just chocolate cake but then she tops it with sweet, creamy whipped cream. Next she ladles syrupy, sticky, luscious caramel all over the whipped cream. Finally, she tops it all off with crunchy, toffee flavored crumbles of a Heath bar. Doesn’t that sound amazing? I love to leave it in the refrigerator for a little while so it is nice and cold and the caramel seeps into the chocolate cake. The best pieces are the corners because they are usually the sweetest and most tasty spots. I know it sounds quiet simple, but is full of flavor and yummy goodness.

( I wish I had a better picture, but this is the only one I could find of our friend Tiger celebrating his birthday with this incredible cake!)

Biscuits and Gravy

My absolute favorite breakfast would have to be biscuits and gravy. My Aunt Joyce has made it for me since I was little. I used to go to her house everyday before school and we would have biscuits and gravy once or twice a week. It has now become a camping Saturday breakfast routine and a favorite at my house every once in a while. Although my mom’s is really good, my Aunt Joyce makes it the best. It is definitely not the healthiest food in the world, but it is one of the most delicious!

First, you have to cook your sausage. Once it is done, you take most of it out to put in a separate dish and leave just enough in the pan to start the gravy with. Next, add oil and cook until the oil is really hot. Then, add flour to the sausage still in the pan and stir it around until it gets all nice and brown. Now, add a mixture of milk and water to the browned flour and sausage. You have to keep stirring this until it gets thicker, then add a little more water and milk until you have reached the amount of gravy you want. Once the gravy starts to thicken, add the sausage from the other dish and mix it in evenly. Do not forget to add lots of salt and pepper and your gravy is done! Now pour the mouth-watering gravy over warm, steamy, fresh out of the oven biscuits and top it all off with Tabasco and you’ll have the best breakfast your mouth has ever tasted!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Making Tamales

Not only is Christmas Eve one of my favorite holiday time cooking traditions, but making tamales with my mom, my boyfriend’s mom, and my nana is too. This year was our second year getting together to make some of the best tamales ever. My boyfriend’s mom, whose name is Elsa, is such an incredible cook that she could make a crap sandwich taste good; therefore, she is the one who teaches us.

Cooking the meat over night, soaking corn husks, boiling and grinding down chilies to make the special sauce, mixing and spreading the masa, and finally putting them all together to be steamed in a gigantic pot is all the hard work that goes into making perfect tamales. Although I do not usually make the tamales, my nana and I watch while Elsa tries to teach my uncoordinated mother, which can be pretty entertaining. This year my mom literally crawled inside the tamale pot while Elsa pulled her around!

Some people think it is weird when they hear that my mom and nana hang out all day long with my boyfriend’s mom but they are all amazing women who I love very much. Not to mention that when they are together they are hilarious to be around. These days are some of the best because I get to spend quality time with women I hope to grow up to be like. I will always cherish this time of year filled with laughter, love, and unbelievable food.


No other pizza compares to Gino’s pizza on South Central Avenue. The amazing thin, crunchy crust, the wide variation of toppings, and the incredible taste that fills your mouth while taking bite after bite is one in a million.

One of the most fun parts is deciding what toppings to choose. The greatest part is that they will make your pizza however you like. For example, my mom and dad always order a medium deluxe which has pepperoni, mushrooms, black olives, bell pepper, sausage, onion, and jalapeƱos if you ask for them. However, my brother and I have different ideas so we order a medium with half pepperoni and half onion. Can you believe it? They will make half a pizza with just cheese and onion on it—I love it. They will even go as far as dividing your pizza toppings into quarters which is great for families with different tastes.

What makes their pizza the best is their unique style. The toppings are tucked underneath a blanket of gooey, yummy cheese. Their crispy crust is paper thin, yet gives the pizza a special kick. The tomato sauce is rich and jammed full of flavor. All of these elements make each bite different and delectable. I have grown up with this Friday ritual almost all of my life, and anyone who does not agree that this pizza is phenomenal is just plain crazy.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Hassle of Braces

Since July of 2009 I have had braces. For some this means awkward pictures and uncomfortable tightening routines, but for me this means some of my favorite foods are no longer edible, or at least terribly hard to enjoy. Some of my favorite sweets, fruits, meats, and simple everyday foods have been such a hassle that I cannot wait to get these train tracks off!

Some of the everyday foods like oranges, rice, sandwiches, carrots, peanuts, Fruity Pebbles, and many others are irritating to eat now. Rice slips between the brackets and gets lost, and peanuts get wedged between the wires causing an uncomfortable, tight squeeze. I cannot wait until the day I can go to Panda Express and eat the fried rice with no worries or constant checking in the mirror to make sure nothing got stuck or grossly enough, left behind.

As for dinners, one of my favorites is steak and shrimp unfortunately, steak requires a ton of chewing and with braces, this is not much fun. The meat becomes tangled around brackets and it becomes such a struggle that it feels more like I’m having a boxing match with my steak than just simply eating it. Corn on the cob is another doozey. Instead of getting that fresh, big bite I have to take a knife and cut all the corn off of its fun little cob. Then there are ribs—I love ribs—and if I thought they were messy before, it looks like a tornado went threw an ocean of barbeque sauce and I cleaned it up with a million paper towels. When I get these braces off I want to go to Famous Dave’s BBQ and eat ribs at a normal messiness level.

My sweets, how can anyone live without their favorite sweets? Ask someone who wears braces and they will tell you it is just not fair. Caramel apples, Snickers, Butterfingers, chocolate covered strawberries, and ooey, gooey s’mores are things I know I should not eat, but are just too good to try not to. Caramel apples covered in crushed peanuts are one of the best fall treats out there and I tried so hard to eat one this year but it was just too hard. I tried biting right into it, taking it on from the side, and cutting it up, but even smaller pieces was not doing the job.

Therefore, instead of making a “bucket list”, I have somewhat created an “eat it” list of all the things I cannot wait to chew up with my new, sparkly, perfect teeth this summer. It is going to be great!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Bowl Sunday!

Super Bowl Sunday has to be one of the best days for gorging down great food. We gathered at my aunt and uncle’s house, as we do every year, made great subs and hot wings and many other sides to satisfy our intense hunger while we watched an extreme game between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburg Steelers. If watching the game was not exciting enough, we were all anxious to taste the perfect subs and savory hot wings.

We had everything including Packers cupcakes, chocolate covered strawberries, homemade HOT wings, Bottle Caps (deep fried jalapenos), guacamole, BBQ chips. carrots and celery, amazing subs, cookies and brownies. It was definitely the best way to enjoy an electrifying and close game.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Soda Cracker Pie

When someone hears soda cracker pie they automatically think what? Some may even think eww! However, this pie is delicious. Misty and I heard about this pie from a member of her church who told us it was her secret recipe. I was very hesitant to try it when I heard it was made from actual soda crackers a.k.a. Saltine crackers. I thought it would be salty and crunchy—and man was I surprised…

Because it is kind of a “secret” I’m going to leave the actual measurements out, but I will tell the ingredients.

• Crushed Saltine Crackers
• Crushed pecans
• Sugar
• Whipped egg whites
• Heavy whipping cream
• Powdered sugar

The dry ingredients for the crust are combined to an even mixture and when the egg whites are finally whipped the dry ingredients are added in. This is baked first to get a golden-brown color and a flaky, crumbly, crunch. Then the heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar are whipped together and piled onto the firm, awesome crust. The pie is baked again to get a nice brown color on top. Once it has cooled—and it is better cold—and topped with whipped cream, it’s ready to serve and enjoy!

Christmas Eve

Believing that it is better to love and lose rather than never love at all, I also feel that it is better to eat a few brownies than to never lose a pound. From now on I want to start talking about my huge love of food—cooking, baking, and especially eating! I have always enjoyed food and recently I have started learning how to cook and bake. So, my next entries will be all about delicious treats and fun times I have had in the kitchen.

One of my favorite days of the year is Christmas Eve because my cousin Misty and I bake all day, from the minute we wake up until we are ready to share all of our goodies with the family. Our usual goods are: cinnamon rolls, cheese ball, soda cracker pie, peanut brittle, fudge, peanut clusters, and different variations of chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies. She always wakes up before me and puts the cinnamon rolls in the oven. I then get to wake up to the oozy, goozy, sweet smell of delicious cinnamon rolls. After I’ve had my sugary breakfast it is time to make the cheese ball. I gather the cream cheese, ham, and green onions. Then I chop them all up and put them in the Kitchen Aid mixer. After it is all mixed, I mold it into a ball and place it on a larger plate surrounded by Ritz crackers for us to snack on for the rest of the day.

Now the real baking begins! As Misty works hard on the fudge, peanut brittle, and peanut clusters, I am in charge of the cookies. I usually make regular old chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin; however, we also get a little creative and make chocolate chunk oatmeal pecan or chocolate chip oatmeal walnut raisin. It is not Christmas Eve until you have had one of those cookies! As the baking goes on, we share laughs and listen to Home Alone and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation playing in the living room. Then, we get to make our favorite soda cracker pie. Many people do not know what this is and are apprehensive to try it, so I will save those secrets until next time.

In all, Christmas Eve is one of the best days of the year. I get to spend the day with one of my favorite people making some of my favorite foods!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Loved and Lost, Or Never Loved At All?

The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.” –Morrie Schwartz. Love is a part of life; either you embrace it or you don’t but it is still there. I believe that it is always better to love and lose rather to never love at all.

As teenagers, adults always assume that we do not know what real love is, and some may not though, I feel as if I do. To me, love is a feeling you have for someone you could not imagine a day without, a connection, and an emotion that makes life amazing. It is a feeling that gladdens your heart and brings people together. For couples, I believe that is someone who cares about you and accepts you exactly the way you are. If you have found your perfect someone, they would love you even if you were covered in zits, wore shiny silver metal braces all over your teeth, and had big funky bottle-cap glasses. Nothing would get in the way for the love they have for you. As some say, love is blind. However, love does not always have to be between couples, you can love your friends, family, and even pets. Without the love I have in my life, I do not think I would be the happy person I am today.

Some people fear love because when it gets lost or hidden there is a horrible pain—they often forget that it can be found again. For example, when I was eight years old my great-grandpa, who we call Papa Joe, passed away. It was a devastating time for my family and we all felt that horrible pain I mentioned before. I remember crying quite often when I saw pictures or videos and heard songs that reminded me of him and sometimes it scared me to feel so sad. I did not know when the hurt would go away. This is when love was hidden from me. However, I had my other family members and memories of my Papa Joe to shine the light back on the love I was trying to find. This year will be tens years from the time he passed away and although I still get teary eyed sometimes, I am happy that I can look back at pictures that bring up memories I had with him. When I think about those memories I get a smile on my face because it makes me remember the love he had for our family. I can not even imagine how life would be if he had not been apart of it or if we did not love him. It would have been so sad, lonely, and depressing.

Along with love comes laughter, memories, hope, and a wonderful life. I do not know who would not want to partake in such a great feeling. Even if it is scary, it should still be something that everyone experiences at least once. I know I am extremely glad to have more than one encounter of love in my life and I would not change anything about it.