Thursday, April 17, 2014

Heirloom Kitchen: Pizza, Pizza, Pizza Class


Heirloom Kitchen:
Pizza, Pizza, Pizza Class
with Jimmy Esposito of Esposito’s Pizzeria

            First off, hello again….I have returned and am alive! There’s been much going on since we last chatted…..the snow has melted, the days are longer and well, I’ve reached my 30s! With that said, some things haven’t changed though…..I’m still waiting for summer, I’m still a brunette and duh, I’m still cooking away…..

            Most recently, I attended a cooking class at Heirloom Kitchen in Old Bridge, NJ as a guest blogger along with a great friend of mine, Stephanie of Stephanie Cooks. Let’s start with the space: oh my goodness gracious- what a looker! The d├ęcor is a hybrid of Williams-Sonoma and Anthropologie.  I was obsessed with every little nook and cranny. Correction: I am obsessed and will be going back very soon because of this. But beyond the shopping areas, there is a pick-up-your-jaw kitchen studio where they regularly hold cooking classes. The set-up is one that took much thought and creativity. One area is an enlarged rectangular kitchen island where customers prep, cook, mingle, watch the pros and get comfy. Another area is where customers can sit and eat in a dining room-like atmosphere. This area is seamlessly chic and rustic and makes me want to devote more time to finishing my own dining room so that it could perhaps be more like this. One can dream, right?!? Anyway, back to the third area where more prep work takes place: the peninsula. Although we didn’t make use of this on our night, it stands as an open and bright countertop where stations can get right to business.


            So now on to the cooking…..I can’t believe I am writing this but yes, it has to do with pizza. I am beginning to think my mother consumed an unthinkable amount of slices while I was in the womb. Seriously, I can’t get away from the stuff. Maybe I should be writing a book or something?!? Haha, na- I’ll spare you the cheesiness! ;)

            Okay so the class…..Pizza, Pizza, Pizza with Jimmy Esposito of Esposito’s in Matawan, NJ. My friend Stephanie and I are huge fans of not only Mr. E, but his pizzeria as well. As locals, we both frequent his counter more than I’d like to say and can be caught discussing (and drooling over) what we got the next day at work. With that, taking this class with Jimmy was a no-brainer for us: We love to cook, love to eat, love to learn and well, love to gossip yip-yap and relax while doing so.

            Jimmy took us through some of his popular recipes. We made pizza doughs, watched him make a few sauces, and designed our own little pies. Although the ovens weren’t commercially-made pizza ovens where the temps get sky high and the bottoms are stone, they did do a nice job cooking our creations. Dancing between multiple wall ovens, Jimmy rattled off many tips and answered any questions we had. What I thought to be one of the best parts of the night was learning how to make his signature sesame-crusted pizza. Being a lover of this version, I had all my focus on his lesson. What I thought was going to be complicated was way easy and approachable. All it takes is coating your entire dough with seeds very heavily. I will soon be attempting this….stay tuned.


            Because every dinner needs dessert, we most naturally finished the night with Nutella pizza. Topped with fresh strawberry and banana slices, this sweet treat was just the slice to hit the spot. Before Stephanie and I took our goody bags to head home, we did what we'd been itching to do since we arrived: shop. After 20 minutes of perusing, we purchased new goodies for our own kitchens that might wishfully make them a bit more like Heirloom’s.


Heirloom Kitchen is located at 3853 Route 516, Old Bridge, NJ. Visit them at their website to view upcoming classes and further information.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

My most recent Jersey Bites post...

Pizza Time at Galloping Hill’s Red Knot Restaurant (via Jersey Bites)

With the amount of time I spend in a classroom, it can be a touch difficult for me to want to step inside another one after the 3:45 school bell rings. You can, however, coerce me if the classroom is also known as a kitchen and the one doing the instructing…

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Now Open: Bonefish Grill in Manalapan (via Jersey Bites)

The one shopping center I find to be beyond amazing has just gotten unbelievably better. Before this year, the shopping center I speak of had a lot going for it: Target, Marshalls, HomeGoods, Wegmans, and a pretty good pizzeria, Alessi’s, all within…

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Busy Elsewhere....

        Wondering where I am this week?!? No, not Aruba! Although with the weather lately, anything above 60 degrees sounds delightful. Well anyway, I'm currently working on an article for Jersey Bites. I'm not good at multi-tasking so I can only do one thing at time. Therefore this week I have nada new for you to enjoy. Stay tuned for next week though, it is cheesy and is sure to pleasy! haha, oh boy....

Monday, January 27, 2014

Individual Chicken Pot Pies

          To me, there are just some foods that can only be eaten in certain seasons. Hot dogs- summer, cranberry sauce- fall, ????- spring…..haha, I don’t think anything is specific to this time of year! But for winter- it has to be anything hearty and warming….as in pot pie. Specifically, this pot pie.

            This meal is definitely synonymous with good ol’ Mr. Winter. It sticks to your ribs like taffy, is served piping hot to help defrost yourself and is filling enough to energize you to shovel that walkway. Not to mention, it is quite delicious- which is a prerequisite for any meal in any season though!

            But besides all those qualities, it is truly just a great meal that is quick and satisfying. I cut the original recipe in ½ for me and Matty, but if you have to feed more mouths than me, just double what I did. That would make 4 pies, and if you have more mouths than that, well, God bless you and continue to increase the amounts! So basically, whether you’re feeding just 1 other or an army- this meal will keep em’ all warm and smiling! Enjoy…
BBBBBRRRRRR........bring on the pot pie!
Individual Chicken Pot Pies
Serves- 2
Adapted from: Real Simple

OBJ: TCW be able to make something besides sandwiches and quesadillas with her leftover rotisserie chicken

 ½ of 8-ounce bag frozen mixed vegetables
1 refrigerated piecrust (such as Pillsbury)
½ of 10 ¾-ounce can cream of chicken soup
¼ cup milk
1 cups cooked and shredded chicken ( I use both white and dark meat)
¼ tsp garlic salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1 egg, beaten
2 TBS sesame seeds

1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Defrost the vegetables in a microwave for about 3 minutes
2, Cut piecrust into quarters, to yield 4 equal pieces. Coat the inside of 4 small aluminum-foil pans (4 1/2 inches in diameter, 1 1/4 inches deep) or 4 ramekins with vegetable cooking spray
3. Line the bottom and sides of each pan or ramekin with a quarter of crust, molding it with your fingers to fit
4. In a large bowl, stir together the soup and milk and then add the chicken, garlic salt and pepper
5. Spoon about 2/3 cup of the mixture into each pan or ramekin. Top each with a piecrust quarter. Pinch the edges together well and cut vents in the top
6. Brush each top with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds (optional)
7. Wrap the edges of pot pies with foil to prevent them from burning right away
8. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until golden brown, removing foil with 10-15 minutes remaining



Monday, January 20, 2014

Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies

           I know, I know- cookies. You are still sick from all the versions you ate last month and you are back at the gym trying to work the aforementioned off. I get it.

            But I’m a person who believes in moderation. I couldn’t possibly go this entire month without a sweet. Heck, I couldn’t go a week without one. I practice the lifestyle of indulge a little and eat well the rest of the time. Ya know, the 90-10 thing. It works for me, most of the time.

            As for you, I don’t know how you life your lives but I can only hope you give in to some temptation here and there. I don’t mean hitting up Wendy’s on the weekends merely or downing a pint of Chunky Monkey only once a month. I mean getting up, getting moving, and eating a darn cookie if you want it.

            And these cookies here are the ones you’ll want to succumb to. C’mon, they practically look like they were snowed upon. How dreamy……Well, if the snow visual didn’t do it for you how about the fact that they are a hybrid of chocolaty-ness, chewiness and fudgy-ness. Sold? Okay, they are a portable and portioned-controlled version of Red Velvet cake. Portioned-controlled people, as in they fit perfectly into a balanced diet. So go ahead, have one, share the rest and let’s make it so that they aren’t the only things fitting well into something lately! Enjoy…

Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies
Makes: about 30
Adapted from: All Recipes

OBJ: TCW be able to make a Holiday-looking cookie for the annual Cookie Swap at work

6 TBS unsalted butter
I C powdered sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
I box Betty Crocker® Red Velvet Cake Mix
2 large eggs

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Melt butter in microwave and set aside to cool
3. Place powdered sugar and cornstarch in a shallow dish and mix with a fork to blend
4. Place cake mix, cooled butter and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Mix by hand until well blended and dough forms
5. Form into 1-inch balls and roll in powdered sugar mix. Place on cool, ungreased baking sheets about 2 inches apart
6. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, in center of oven for 9-11 minutes or until set. Cool on sheet for 1 minute
7. Transfer to wire cooling rack and cool completely. Store in airtight container with wax paper or parchment separating layers

Web-link photo credits:





Sunday, January 12, 2014

Perfect French Fries with Cheddar Cheese Sauce

             There is truly a reason why so many people prefer to get French fries via drive through window, restaurant kitchen or food truck vendor- they require too much damn time to make at home!

            Seriously people, the time it takes to peel, soak, dry, first-fry, drain, second-fry, then eat is incredible. For the same amount of time, I could have practically fetched the potatoes from the field and delivered them to their designated selling points. Or even better yet, I could have tried all the fast-food varieties and done a post about that! But there is a catch…..

            The ones you will make at home will be wwaayyyy better than whatever you receive from someone else. Honestly, the crunch, the salt, the steam from within will have you speechless. Which you should be because once you put these in front of you, you will not want to open your mouth up except to eat!

            Then to make this concoction even better, why don’t you go ahead and whip up some cheese sauce. If you think homemade fries are drool-worthy, you haven’t made your own dipping sauce yet.

            So are they a pain in the a$$? Why yes sir (or mam), they are. But are they worth your time, energy, and patience? You betcha they are! I wouldn’t ask you to waste your time if the end result wasn’t something scrumptious, I promise! So go ahead, get fryin’ my friends! Enjoy…

Perfect French Fries with Cheddar Cheese Sauce
Serves 2-3
Fries recipe source (adapted for amount): The Pioneer Woman
Cheese Sauce recipe adapted from: Serious Eats

OBJ: TCW be able to create better-than-fast-food fries in her own kitchen and serve it alongside an irresistible bowl of cheesy dipping sauce  

5- 6 Russet Potatoes
Vegetable Oil for frying
Sea Salt

For Cheese Sauce:
4 ounces grated cheddar cheese
½ TBS corn starch
½ can (12 ounce can) of evaporated milk

For Fries:

1. Peel and rinse the potatoes, then cut them into sticks by cutting the potato in four or five vertical pieces, then cutting each piece into sticks. Place in a large bowl and cover with cold water, then allow them to soak for two or three hours. (You can also stick them in the fridge and let them soak for several hours or overnight.)
2. When you’re ready to make the fries, drain off the water and lay them on paper towels. Blot them with paper towels to dry them
3. Heat a few inches of oil in a heavy pot to 300 degrees or use a deep fryer where you can set the temperature
4. In 3 or 4 batches, cook the potatoes for about 4 to 5 minutes per batch, or until the potatoes are soft. They should not be brown at all!  see below....
5. Remove each batch and drain them on new/dry paper towels
6. Once all the potatoes have been fried at 300, turn up the heat until the oil reaches 400 degrees
7. When the oil’s hot, start frying the potatoes in batches again, cooking until the fries are golden and crisp
8. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels
9. Sprinkle fries right away with sea salt and enjoy alongside the cheese sauce

For Cheese Sauce:
1. Add cheese and cornstarch to large bowl and toss well to combine
2. Transfer to medium saucepan and add ½ Cup evaporated milk
3.  Cook over low heat, stirring constantly with whisk until melted, bubbly, and thickened (about 5 minutes)
4. Note: Mixture will look thin and grainy at first but will thicken and come together after heating. Thin it to desired consistency with additional evaporated milk