Cooking Girl NY

Recipies for those who LOVE to COOK.

We made it! April 26, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — laurenzo @ 9:08 pm

So, I had said in one of my earlier posts that I would post a picture after the wedding , 50 lbs lighter and rocking my dress. Well, I didn’t lose the 50lbs , but I did rock the dress!

Matt and I had a great wedding followed by an even better honeymoon. I was proud that coming home from 10 days in DR and I only gained 1/2 a pound. While we were away I had lots of time to read. Mostly I was reading crime novels but I did some blog reading on juicing and blending. What better way to kick your body into shape than to do a juice cleanse. Although I went in knowing there was no way I could do a full cleanse drinking juice 3 times a day, I figured replacing one meal per day should do it.

Out came my juicer and a shopping  bag full of greens and away I went. Juicing like mad. Kale, Spinach, Apple Ginger. Pineapple, Kale Apple, Pear. Carrot , Spinach Cucumber , Celery. You get the idea. Everyday I went to work carrying a 32oz veggie juice and they were all so good! Then I started reading articles about how blending may be more beneficial than juicing because of the fiber content getting lost when juicing. So out came the Vitamix and for the past 2 weeks it has been a smoothie a day. Spinach, banana, mango. Spinach , banana, pineapple. Spinach , banana, strawberry. They are all so good!

Switching from juicing to blending I still get the same burst of energy so for now I may switch back and forth . Oh and if you don’t have a Vitamix, i strongly suggest you buy one. It is a miracle blender. Smoothies are done in under 2 minutes and they come out perfect every time! They are expensive but you can find a refurbished on Ebay or amazon which cuts the price down a bunch.


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Master Chef Tryouts and Megalithic Symphony November 16, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — laurenzo @ 6:01 pm

Seems like I haven’t had time to breathe the past few months. So much has been happening at work and home I have lost track (once again) of all my important goals. My diet has been lacking, but my exercise has increased which has me on a nice 2 month plateau. I am working out just enough to maintain my constant intake of any and every carbohydrate I can get my hands on. This is not good and my new goal is to just increase my working out and hope for the best.I have come to the conculsion that my body just does not run unless I eat carbs.

People may say I’m crazy, but I have tried every kind of diet out there over the past 8 months. Yes I have lost weight , but I have been completely miserable. I am no longer taking anyones advice on what I should eat, what new diet I should try, which foods I should stay away from. Don’t get me wrong, I am not eating burgers and fries every night, but I have learned that a slice of toast or a bowl of pasta for dinner will not kill me  or make me gain 5 pounds instantly.

What has really saved my life is Circuit training. This is mainly the only kind of exercise I will do. I take a circuit class 2-3 times per week with the same instructor who keeps me really motivated. His classes are mainly the same but he mixes it up every few rounds and I leave the gym feeling empowered.

A  couple of things that have happened over the past few weeks that were very exciting. One has to do with food and one has to do with just who I am.

If anyone knows me they know I love to cook and I love to listen to music. Music and food can totally change my attitude for the day. I came across one of the best albums I have heard in a long time Awolnation’s “Megalithic Symphony”. This almbum starts and ends my day. Each of the 14 tracks puts me in a better mood than I was a minute before.  For anyone who hasn’t heard of it, download ASAP and put on repeat- TRUST ME , you won’t be disappointed.

Now not only am I a cooking fanatic but I also watch just about every food show on television. Although I am hearing more and more rumors that Chef Ramsey is full of it, I do watch Hell’s Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares and MasterChef. MasterChef is by far my fav of the trio since its about real home cooks that have a chance to make their dreams come true. Well of course being a Master Chef is a dream of mine, but who would ever think something like this is possible?

A few months back when the third season was airing, there must have been a commercial one night for the casting of season 4.  Matt , being the sneak that he is went online and set up a profile for me and filled out all the preliminary information.

 About 3 weeks ago NY and NJ were hit with the worst storm in 200 years, SuperStorm Sandy. We had no electricity for 5 days and all we could worry about was how are we going to get to work when there are no gas stations. In the middle of all this hoopla I received a voicemail saying that Master Chef would like me to come down to the open call tryouts. I was speechless! No way did I think this would even be possible. Hundreds of questions filled my head.  The most important question of course was , “what am I cooking? ” . I started praying to get electricity back so I didn’t have to wash this opportunity away. My prayers were answered and that is when the panic set it. Am I really doing this? I asked myself the question at least every 5 minutes. 

After a long and exhaustive 4 days of debating mostly with myself , I decided to return the call and get ready for the tryouts. For some reason I could not decide what to cook, my mind was a complete blank . Of course when in doubt cook what you are comfortable , and for me that is Italian food. So Eggplant and Zucchini parm is what they got. The night before the tryouts I carefully layered up my casserole dish (10 layers total) with thinly sliced eggplant and zucchini , sauce and cheese.

The next morning , hot box in hand we set off to Manhattan. Upstairs I went to a room with a U shaped table. Everyone was given 3 minutes to plate their dishes. When the judge came around she was silent cutting into my little square tower , and after what felt like an eternity said to me ” very nice layers”. Phew , at least one nice comment. After tasting she asked me how I went about making my dish, which I went into full detail. Then that was it, she moved on and being the first one to be judged I had to painfully stand for an hour while everyone else went through the same process. After each dish had been scrutinized a few of our numbers were called, we were told that we succesfully made it through round one and would be called if we made it to round 2, in LA. 6 days later I have not received a call, so I assume that means no, which I am fine with. It was a fun experience and now I know what to expect for next time!

Now I will share with you my recipe for Eggplant & Zucchini Parm.


1 medium eggplant

2 medium zucchini

Plain bread crumbs

flat leaf parsley

peccorino romano cheese – grated

2 cups Mozzarella cheese – grated

2 eggs – beaten

2 cans San Marzano plum tomatoes

1 clove of garlic – smashed

2 tbsp olive oil

vegetable oil for frying

1 cup red wine

salt and white pepper to taste


beat two eggs in a bowl set aside. combine breadcrumbs, chopped parsley , 2 tablespoons of peccorino romano cheese , pepper in a bowl and set aside. peel eggplant and slice thinly on mandolin along with Zucchini and set aside. Begin the breading process of all vegetable while oil for frying is heating up. Fry all vegetables, drain on wire wrack and pat dry with paper towels.

For the sauce, in a food mill , process your tomatoes. Heat olive oil in a pot with the smashed clove of garlic, saute until garlic is infused into the oil . Remove garlic clove, Pour in tomatoes, salt and white pepper. Add 1 cup of red wine of choice. Simmer sauce.

Once all frying is complete and sauce is simmered its time to assemble the Parm. start with a laddle of sace in the bottom of a casserole dish. layer one is eggplant, cheese ( mozz and peccorino) and top with sauce, layor 2 is zucchini , cheese and top with sauce. Repeat the process until all vegetables are used. top layer should be mozz and some peccorino. Bake in the oven 350degrees for about 20 minutes. Let cool completey so it can set up nicely. This dish can be eaten right away or is even better the next day.





A new CookingGirl July 21, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — laurenzo @ 5:36 pm

So it has been a very long time since I have posted any recipes. The past few months I have been revamping the way I eat and cook. I am in serious health and weight loss mode right now. It has only been 4 months , but it’s already a really long and diffiuclt road. In 4 months I have only acheived 16lbs. Its just not enough. I feel like this really should not be this difficult . I am eating right ( 85% of the time) and I am working out hardcore.. So whats going on here? What am I missing? I am seeing very slim differences in myself but its so aggrivating that it makes me want to give up.

Most of the people in my life don’t understand that their advice is not helping me. Pointing out how very large I have become is not going to make me work harder.. it makes me feel worse about myself. I went from being a person who was passionate about food and trying new things, cooking new things – to a person eating dry packaged powdered food to get my body to lose an ounce. It worked, supplying my body with 700-800 calories a day did the trick and allowed me to lose the 16lbs. Now that I am transitioning off and trying a healthy lifestyle will I still see results? I really hope so. If not it may be a trip to the Dr. to wire my mouth shut.

I found a very inspirational blog . This girl knows where its at! After reading her story and hysterically crying I felt inspired! I CAN DO THIS TOO! So Monday I am starting my new way of life. I am making a trip to Whole Foods and restocking my kitchen with super healthy foods, super GREEN veggies and super lean proteins. I should be able to eat a balanced meal 3 times a day and exercise and lose weight.. its science really!

There will be updates to follow as my journey progresses , and on March 15th I will post a pic of me , 50lbs lighter , rocking my awesome wedding dress . One point that should be made. I am NOT doing this to fit into a dress. I am doing this because I look in the mirror and don’t recognize myself.. and that makes me sad.


Bacon Wrapped Chicken January 29, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — laurenzo @ 12:05 pm

A few weeks ago Matt and I went to a friends house to watch the Giants vs Packers. Not only was it an awesome game but we spent time with great friends and had some great food. Among that was a beer can chicken. Its a simple recipe – actually its Guy Fieri’s beer can chicken so of course it was good.   The chicken stayed so moist and the bacon gave it a smoky flavor. Matt isn’t one for spices but watching him eat this chicken like he hadn’t eaten in 3 years.. I knew that I could finally make something with flavors that I actually enjoyed and that he will actually eat!

After we left I told myself that I was definitely making that for Superbowl Sunday as it is a decently healthy, very simple and really tasty. But of course  I couldn’t wait 3 whole weeks to make it since I was craving it the second we left . So the wheels in my brain started to turn and I thought to myself there has to be a way to make this without using the whole chicken and also in less time. So I decided to try my hand at it one night for dinner. I bought 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts and a package of bacon. I already had all the necessary spices at home. So first I combined the dry ingredients and already the smell of the dried spices brought me back. I rubbed down each chicken breast generously with the spices and set them aside. I then wrapped each piece with 2 slices of bacon , securing the underside with toothpicks. A quick spray of pam in a hot skillet and I set the little birdies to brown. About 4 minutes per side was just enough and then I finished them off in a 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes. While the chicken was finishing I whipped up  a quick side of Israeli cous cous and sauteed spinach. All in all dinner was ready in 35 minutes.

The chicken came out perfect. The bacon was crisp on the outside and the chicken stayed extremely juicy and flavorful.. SUCCESS! I hope that you enjoy the recipe as much as I have and I cannot wait to make this again. I was even thinking of scrapping the entire chicken for SuperBowl Sunday and making my version instead, however the beer can chicken really is set it and forget it.. and the Giants do need my attention 🙂

I am going to share my recipe with you and if you want to check out Guy’s version you can find it on the web. I’m afraid if I post it here it might be some kind of copyright infringment and I have too much to worry about without that on my head! 😉


4 Boneless , Skinless chicken breasts

8 slices of bacon

1 tsp each , garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, ground ginger, dried sage, sea salt ( or kosher salt), freshly ground black pepper.


Preheat oven to 425

combine all dry ingredients

wash the chicken under cold water and pat dry with paper towels

rub each chicken breast with the spice mix and set to the side

wrap each chicken breast with 2 slices of bacon and secure on the underside with toothpicks

spray a skillet with non stick cooking spray and brown the chicken about 4 minutes per side

Transfer to a baking dish and finish off in the Oven about 20 minutes

Let rest for 5 minutes  and enjoy!




Slow cooker beef stew and Banana bread October 23, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — laurenzo @ 6:01 pm

Saturday October 22nd 2011

This week may have been one of the most challenging weeks I have had in a very long time. I usually don’t look forward to the weekends.. In  my mind it’s just another day on the calendar- but this week I was counting the minutes until Saturday. All I wanted to do was sleep in, clean my house and cook. I feel for the past few weeks I haven’t had the passion to do anything except sleep. I was even eating canned soup for dinner! So, Saturday came and after sleeping in to the ripe time of 8:30 (what a treat!) I felt refreshed and ready to go. First thing I did was clean out my closet. What a disaster- 3 bags of garbage and 3 bags for good will later it was time for the supermarket. Matt was kind enough to continue cleaning the house – he really is one of the good ones 🙂 I had noticed that morning when I was bringing in my 5 glasses of half empty water from the nightstand that I had a full bunch of bananas that were just about ready to be tossed and it hit me BANANA BREAD!

Off to the store I went to purchase ingredients for my banana bread – most of which I had in the house all I needed was walnuts. I was also craving something that would warm me up and could be made in the slow cooker. Beef stew.. Haven’t had that in about 3 years and it was the perfect project for a lazy Sunday at home.

When I got home I started mashing and mixing and before I knew it I was pulling a beautifully baked bread from my tiny oven-I swear it looks like I have an adult size version of the easy bake oven I am truly amazed how I produce any food out of my kitchen. It smelled amazing and looked even better. Matt and I each had a piece for breakfast and it is definitely better the next day.


5 medium overripe bananas

2 cups all purpose flour

1tsp baking powder

1tsp baking soda

½ tsp nutmeg

½ tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp salt

1 cup sugar

2 eggs – beaten


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan and set aside. In medium bowl sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg , cinnamon and salt. Form a well in the center and set aside. In another bowl mash bananas and add 1 cup sugar and 2 beaten eggs. Mix well. All at once pour the banana mixture into the flour mixture. Mix lightly until just absorbed and combined. Pour into loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a knife in the center comes out clean.  You can also add a stussel topping by combining 1 tsp flour, 1 tablespoon of packed brown sugar and 1 tablespoon sugar. Cut 2 tablespoons of cold butter into the mixture and sprinkle over bread before baking.  

Sunday October 23rd 2011

We didn’t sleep in this morning. I was up at 7:30AM folding laundry and cleaning up the kitchen from the night before. I started prepping my stew for the Crockpot and remembered a little tip from Julia Child. Always pat the meat dry or it won’t brown! Thanks Julia. Also don’t crowd the mushrooms. The stew is still simmering in the Crockpot, it has about another 2 hours to go. The house is filled with good smells and I can’t wait to dig in.



2 lbs lean bottom round stew meat – cut into 2 inch cubes

1 cup all purpose flour

2 tablespoons special seasoning (recipe to follow)

1 cup dry red wine

2 cups beef stock

¼ cup olive oil

1 6oz can tomato paste

1 onion – chopped

2 cups baby carrots

3 celery stalks cut into 1 inch pieces

2 cups sliced mushrooms

1 cup frozen peas


In a medium bowl combine flour and 1 tablespoon special seasoning. Pat the meat dry and toss in flour mixture. In the meantime heat half the oil in a sauté pan. Add the meat a few pieces at a time and brown on all sides. Add browned meat to the Crockpot. Continue until all meat is browned (add the rest of the oil if needed) and in the Crockpot. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of flour and 1 more tablespoon of special seasoning. Add the chopped onion and mushrooms to the sauté pan and begin to soften. Add the 6oz can of tomato paste and cook about 5 minutes. Add mixture to the Crockpot. Deglaze the pan with 1 cup red wine and scrape up all the left over bits. Pour into the Crockpot. Add the carrots and celery to the pot and mix well. Add beef stock to the Crockpot and stir.  Set Crockpot to low setting and cook for 7-8 hours. At the last minute add the frozen peas and heat through. Serve with noodles, mashed potatoes or just on its own.

*special seasoning – 1 tablespoon each  garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika- combine well and store in airtight container.


Cooking just makes me feel alive again. Even if I don’t eat what I have made it feels good to just produce something that smells good, looks good and tastes good. Cooking allows me to free my mind of all stress and forget about all my worries. I hope you like these recipes and I hope you get the same satisfaction out of cooking that I do.


Sauteed Pumpkin just like Poppy used to make October 16, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — laurenzo @ 7:37 pm

So I finally sat down after a very long Sunday. Actually just as writing this I forgot I had eggs boiling on the stove and one more load of laundry in the dryer – So now. 20 minutes later I am finally sitting down. This weekend was the first real autumn weekend. The weather was sunny and cool with just the right about of blustery wind. Matt and I took the little man pumpkin picking which is by far my favorite fall activity. Every year we go to White Post Farms in Melville. They have the best fall festival, a petting zoo; pick your own pumpkins and tons of fun activities.

So today I decided to make my once a fall side dish that I learned from my Poppy on my mom’s side- sautéed pumpkin with cured black olives. It came out just as I remember and was a perfect side dish for my roast chicken. The good thing about pumpkin is even a small pumpkin will make enough to last a few days and in my opinion it’s always better the next day.

Other than it being a bit labor intensive it’s a very simple recipe- I recommend using a small pumpkin just because taking the rind off can take a very long time.


Sautéed pumpkin with cured black olives

1 small pumpkin

2 tbsp olive oil

3 cloves garlic

Red wine vinegar

Cured black olives – about 10 olives

Salt and pepper to taste

First cut the pumpkin in quarters and take off the rind. I use the same knife that comes in the pumpkin carving set since its cuts through the easiest. I also like to cut it up like I would cantaloupe since it’s easier to trim the rind off- then cut each strip into 2 inch cubes.

 Heat the 2 tbsp olive oil in a non stick sauté pan. Add the 3 cloves of garlic and brown.

Add the cubed pumpkin and sauté about 10 minutes until the pumpkin begins to get soft and browned on one side. Season with salt and pepper.

Pit the cured olives (If not already pitted) and add to the sauté pan.

Finish off with a few splashes of red wine vinegar.


To Paleo or not to Paleo… August 22, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — laurenzo @ 8:28 pm

So some may say I am doing the Paleo diet.. but I say.. I am not on a “diet” I am just not eating all the bad things that add poundage to my derriere . When I was going to a nutritionist she told me that my body likes to cling to carbs for dear life and not let them go. Must be the Italian in me screaming for pasta every day . So i was cutting down on my carb intake for awhile..however i was still eating at least 2 servings a day with my cheats in here and there. On top of that Matt was not really on board at the time and was still eating his usual .. so you can imagine how hard it was trying to make two dinners at night..or getting so frustrated with what I was eating wishing I could be having what he was having. So after about 2 months and 10 lbs down I was feeling good , but started to plateau.. and that didn’t feel so good. Also I was spending far too much money to go sit once every two weeks and go over what I ate and get weighed which I could do on my own. So i cancelled the nutritionist BUT I did join a fabulous gym in its place that has a full staff of nutritionists so win win! So after a few months of going to the gym 3 times a week I don’t see any changes ..except some slight muscle definition in my arms.. (welcome to the gun show) . So again I am at a cross roads .. what can i do to jump start my metabolism?

Getting engaged.. definitely jump started my butt into gear. Matt and I aren’t trying to make a big deal out of getting married. We have both been down that road..but after much deliberation have decided to have a small ceremony in our hometown and celebrate with our closest friends and family. Even if we aren’t making it a big to do I still need to look great right? So even though we have a very long time before we say “I Do” I figure it’s going to take me just as long to get in shape. There comes in Paleo.. after speaking to some friends that follow this way of life and reading up on it it seems to be not so hard. Matt and I are both on day 4 it’s going pretty well. I have been doing a lot of prepping and a lot of cooking so that there is something to grab if we are starving. I would say the worst part is going to be lunchtime, especially when we are at work. It’s very tempting to go out and get something quick and easy and not so healthy.. I have a feeling we will be brown bagging it sooner than later.

So far I am not even sure if some of the things I made are considered Paleo freindly but one thing I do know there were no grains of any sort involved.. all protein and veggies. Saturday I made Kale Chips.. they were amazing.. Brian was even chowing down on them and when they were all gone he asked for more! Classic! Kale chips are the easiest things to make. 1 bunch of Kale , cleaned and stems trimmed. Cut the kale into chip size pieces  . Toss in 1 tsp olive oil and kosher salt. Spread out on baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes at 300 degrees.

I would say the hardest thing to do is plan. When I come home at the end of the day I am totally brain dead. So to come home and have to think about what to cook is a bit daunting. Also eating breakfast was never something I was used to. It’s easy to grab a doughnut or a bagel but to make a conscious decision before I’ve had my coffee .. ugh. Sunday morning I had an extra burst of energy and decided to make us breakfast. To not torture Brian he got belgian waffles. For Matt scrambled eggs and sliced melon, and for myself a spinach, mushroom and onion fritatta. I even had enough left over to last a few days . ( recipe to follow below)
So I am confident that this time I am going to do it right. I am not thinking about dieting, or what I cannot eat..more of what can I challenge myself with. I am sure I will get super frustrated since I live for macaroni and me mows.. but I’ll survive and I will vow only to eat them if Nanny is cooking 🙂 . Plus it helps that Matt is doing this along with me ( thanks babe ).

 Sunday Morning Fritatta

6 whole eggs ( or 3 egg yolks and six egg whites – or all egg whites)

1 cup sliced mushrooms

1/2 an onion chopped

1 cup chopped spinach

salt & pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 325 degrees

In a medium saucepan saute mushrooms and onion in cooking spray until onions are slightly translucent.

add salt & pepper to taste.

Add the chopped spinach and saute until just wilted.

cover an 8″ pie pan with cooking spray. Add the sauteed veggies to the bottom of the pie pan. whisk eggs and pour over mixture. Bake for 20 minutes.



I <3 San Diego July 22, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — laurenzo @ 9:42 pm

Well, Matt and I just got back from San Diego less than a week ago and already I wish I was back there. I absolutely fell in love with the quaint town we stayed in , the shops, the fact that you can virtually bring your dog everywhere you go and of course the weather. It was 72 degrees and sunny everyday and breezy at night. We were staying right on the water in Coronado and I didn’t get one bug bite or have one night of frizzy hair (SCORE!) What made this trip even better was the fact that we traveled with two other foodies ( have to give a shout out to Maria for mapping out the best food network hot spots ). I feel like we ate our way through San Diego.. and part of Orange County 🙂

As soon as the plane touched down we knew where we were going for lunch – actually we knew about 2 months before the trip. In and Out Burger! The Mecca fast food restaurant of Cali. I have heard so many people rant and rave about it how could we not try it out. The menu is simple- hamburger, cheeseburger or double double ( double meat, double cheese) , fries, soda and shakes. There is also a secret menu I found out about where you can order delights such as ” Animal Style ” or the ” 3×3 and 4×4″ – aka heart attack between two buns. I figured for my first time I may as well go easy. Simple cheeseburger  ( which comes with lettuce, tomato , pickles, onion , mayo, ketchup and mustard unless otherwise specified) and cheese fries – can’t pass up cheese fries .

The line was almost out the door and the cars were lined up all through the parking lot. We got there at the peak of lunch time .. The wait was worth it despite the fact that the quality was partially diminished due to the hoards or people. All in all in happy to say I have been to an In and Out . After devouring our burgers quicker than it took to make them we headed to the hotel and relaxed by the pool for the rest of the afternoon.




The next morning it was on to Cafe 222. Featured on Food Networks “The Best Thing I Ever Ate”, Bobby Flay ( aka my personal grilling hero) talked about his favorite breakfast – the peanut butter and banana stuffed french toast. Although it was the featured item i decided to go with the eggs Italia . Eggs with Pesto, Parmesan , goat cheese and tomatoes served with toasted foccacia. It was like a mix between breakfast and lunch – very yummy .. but I have to admit I kept stealing bites of Matt’s french toast. Bobby you were right .. it was that good .

When we ventured up to the Orange County Fair I guess we all figured it was going to be like .. a fair.. some rides, way too much fried food and some games.. well it was like a fair on steroids. Everything there was HUGE .. i mean look at this mountain of fries. I don’t think a we even made a small dent . This place had every kind of junk food imaginable.. and everything was fried. Fried koolaid , fried butter, fried oreos , fried sushi ( i think that was a joke but it may have been there) , chocolate covered everything including chocolate covered bacon..which i really wanted to try until I saw this group of girls next to us. They sat down with a Chinese food takeout box and with uncontrollable giggles they opened the box and were all peering inside. I found myself straining my neck trying to see what they saw.. what was it I was dying to know! Then one girl pulled out one hunk of chocolate and started nibbling away at it. I decided it was time for me to stop blatantly staring ( and possibly drooling) at what I saw so I turned back around but kept one ear open and they described the salty sweet flavor. I ended up not purchasing my own which was probably better for my hips anyway 🙂 but one day I think i need to make said chocolate dipped bacon..because whats better than bacon and chocolate..not a whole lot of things .

Now don’t get me wrong I didn’t eat my weight in junk food the 4 days I spent in California but I definitely indulged in the not so healthy wonders that were offered. My favorite out of all the joints we hit up over those few days was Hodads.

A Hodad is person who acts and dresses like a surfer but is just a normal dude. AKA a Poser. Hodads was also featured on the Food Network on Diners , Drive Ins and Dives. After waiting on line for 45 minutes in the blazing sun we entered the doors of Hodad’s – known for their burgers and shakes. The walls were plastered with license plates from all over the USA. I don’t think the restaurant was bigger than my living room . Guy Fieri dubbed this place the best burger joint he has come across. I would say it’s right up there for me along with Burger Bar. Dives like Hodad’s are so great because you get the no fuss food and service. A one page laminated menu and an awesome burger served to you in a basket wrapped in paper so all the goodness stays in the bun.. So yummy





For me San Diego was the perfect getaway . But I have one thing to say to all your Californians.. for people who boast about being organic and all natural .. you sure do loveeee your junk food 🙂


Summertime July 10, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — laurenzo @ 8:42 pm

Well I haven’t written in a while but I find that in the summer I rarely cook substantial meals. Its too darn hot to cook in my unventilated kitchen! So after weeks of making quick and easy meals that haven’t really been satisfying to my craving , I woke up hungry.. hungry to cook!

I find when the temperature rises the best thing to do is take the cooking outside. Matt and I have BBQ’d a few times this summer so far – I have to say on Father’s Day he made a mean Porterhouse. So with my eyes barely open I sauntered into the living room plopped down on the couch and said.. ” I feel like cooking today” .. I looked over to Matt’s half smile and shaking his head he said “Ok….” So before my morning coffee I was already determined to BBQ. Now I don’t really like to throw on just hamburgers and hot dogs…its too easy, although we always end up making them along with an array of other meats and fish. So I thought to myself..what haven’t I made lately? Then it hit me .. I’ve never made Poppy’s ribs.. or as everyone else calls them, Uncle Joe’s ribs.. In all my years of grilling how have I never made these famous ribs? I feverishly dialed the phone to get the secret recipe.

Now I have partaken in consuming these ribs at least 5 times a summer for as long as I can remember and as I have picked up so many other recipes while watching Poppy cook , somehow I had no idea how these ribs got these delicious sweet flavor. They always came out so crisp and caramelized on the outside and  the meat remained juicy falling right off the bone.. yum. After recieving the simple ingredient list and proper cooking technique I was surprised to find that all it took was 3 simple ingredients (seriously). Those three ingredients you ask? Dark Brown Sugar, Salt and Pepper..who would have thunk it! No wet ingredients , no need to slather on BBQ sauce or spritz with water ever hour, dry rub, slow cook and enjoy.

I have to say they came out amazing.. just like I remember them and I have to say I’m proud of myself for mastering Poppy’s ribs on the very fist try ( insert pat on the back) . Now although some people may feel that it’s taboo to share secret recipes I feel that good things , esepcially good recipes need to be shared, so here goes.


Ingredient list:

1 rack of ribs

1 cup dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon kosher salt


Unpackage ribs and pat dry. Flip to the underside and cut a piece of the skin ( at least thats what i call it) pull off entire rack and disgard. Mix the dark brown sugar, salt and pepper in a bowl. Rub all over rack of ribs . Let sit for 30 minutes uncovered.

Heat BBQ with all burners. Turn off front burner and lower back burner to medium. Place an aluminum cup or pan of water on back burner. Lay ribs on front burner underside down. Let cook for 2 1/2 to 3 hours . Check occasionally to see if more water is needed in pan. Test ribs after the cooking time to see if meat comes off the bone easily.  When finished the ribs will have a caramelized crust all over. Let rest for 15 minutes. Cut individual ribs and serve with spicy mustard on the side.


I hope this inspires you. Happy summer and happy grilling!


3 Ingredients June 14, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — laurenzo @ 9:43 pm

Cooking can really be simple. There is no reason to use 100 different ingredients to make dinner . This is probably why I am not a fan of Rachel Ray . Have you ever seen her show 30 minute meals? It takes 20 minutes for her to gather all her ingredients. 10 different spices from the cupboard, 15 items from the fridge , 5 pots … i mean after all that can you even taste the food under all that disguise?  For me good simple cooking  comes down to using only three simple ingredients. What are those 3 ingredients you ask?  Kosher Salt, Pepper and Olive Oil.

I was chatting with one of my co workers today and she was telling me how she takes Kosher salt, pepper and olive oil to season Zucchini before grilling and they come out delicious. That’s really all you need. Just about everything I cook has those three ingredients. One of Matt’s favorite things I make is Roast Chicken.It comes out so tender and with great flavor- only seasoned with Kosher salt, Pepper and Olive oil- I let the natural flavor of the chicken do all the work. When i saute mushrooms I season them with the same 3 ingredients- always remember don’t crowd the mushrooms or they wont brown! Thanks Julia Child!  Same goes for Steak- pat the steak dry and  season with the same three ingredients. Whether you grill it the steak forms a wonderfully delicious salty crust on the outside …yum . With these three ingredients you have a solid base to almost any recipe. To add to the simple 3 ingredient fix I also love garlic and lemon-especially when it comes to seasoning fish and poultry.


Here are a few recipes – well not really recipes more suggestions 🙂


Any vegetable ( Asparagus, Mushrooms, Zucchini, Carrots, Broccoli and the list goes on…)

Season with Kosher salt , Pepper and Olive Oil

Grill , sautee, broil, bake and you have a quick easy delicious side dish to any meal.


Laurenzo’s Roast Chicken ( yes i gave it a name)


1 – 4LB Chicken – I prefer Murrays or Bell and Evans

1 Lemon

1 bunch flat leaf italian parsley

Kosher salt, pepper and Olive oil.


Clean the chicken inside and out with cold water. Pat dry.

Season the cavity with kosher salt. Stuff the cavity with one lemon cut in half and parsley. Rub chicken with olive oil and season with Kosher salt and pepper. Place in broiler pan with 1 inch water in the bottom. Bake at 375 for 1-1 1/2 hours or until the leg moves easily in socket and knife inserted by the thigh runs clear juice. Baste throughout cooking process. Serve with roast vegetable, mashed or roasted potatoes.