Christmas Italian style with Giada and Mario

Viva Italiano!  Or however you say it.  I caught this lovely little gem of a special last night that showed how some Italian-Americans spend Christmas.

It looked like fun, and seemed authentic (i.e. it was Giada not Rachael)!  My boyfriend and his family are Italian and this little special made me almost want to make his family some Italian specialities for Christmas.  Alas, I think that I won't make it properly and end up offending someone so I think I'll pass this time.

I thought it was interesting how instead of ham or turkey, the main dish is usually fish.  There was this dish Venitian Seafood Salad that looked so neat, yet complicated, that would wow any Christmas crowd.

You should definitley check this special out, if you're looking for something other tham ham for Christmas.  I'm sticking to the already cooked ham, just to be on the safe side.  It airs again December 8th at 2pm and December 9th at 5pm.


New poll! A Mother's Day theme

I thought in honor of Mother's Day this Sunday, that this week's theme should be centered around mom.  Afterall, she is generally the one who teaches us to cook, and the one who made all those meals for all those crazy people who lived under your roof.

Every time I watch the Food Network, I see a bit of my mom in the way that Sandra Lee cooks.  If she's reading this, which she probably is, she has no idea who that is.  Trust me, mom, it's a compliment. 

me and momSandra Lee finds shortcuts in cooking to make meals that taste delicious but don't take a lot of time.  There is no shame in using stuff from the store and turning it into your own meal.  My family was always so busy.  My brother played waterpolo religiously and I swam for 5 hours a day every day.  My mom was a middle school teacher and worked really hard all day, while my dad also worked an 8 to 6 job.  By the time we all got home, and believe me that was never at the same time, my mom had made something for dinner.  Sometimes parts of it were from boxes and stuff, but we were all fed and happy.  That in itself was miraculous.  My brother only eats chicken and pizza, and he still does today at the age of 27.  Because of my mother's ingenuity, my flare for cooking was sparked.  OK, I admit I'm no professional chef, but I'm not afraid of the stove either, and that's all due to my mom.

Thanks, mom!

Feel free to post something about your mom, tis the season!


Wedding Ideas from the Food Network

weddingGiada De Laurentiis and Tyler Florence help turn a couple's Hawaiian wedding fantasy into a food filled extravaganza!  In a special two hour show, contest winners Jeremy and Dede have their reception dreams made into reality.  The beautiful couple chose Hawaii as their dream destination, while georgeous chef, Tyler Florence, offered to lend a hand with the meal.  Don't worry, Jeremy, Tyler just got hitched himself, so you don't have to worry about your bride running off with the cook.

As an omage to the whole wedding thing, Food Network has dedicated the hours of 8pm to wedding fanfare all week.  If you would like to catch the Jeremy and Dede wedding special, you have many chances: May 5th at 9pm, May 6th at 2:00pm, May 11th at 9pm, and May 12th at 4pm.

If you're looking for help with your wedding, Food Network has some tips.  Click here to see Rachael Ray make a mean wedding brunch mimosa.  Ok it's not the toughest of things to make, but when that wedding day creeps closer and closer, you need all the help you can get.


And the winner is: Alton Brown's quirky kitchen!

The latest poll has everyone craving Alton Brown's velcro herb canisters and extensivley labled tupperware.  I love Alton, and apparently, everyone else loves his kitchen.  I think I'd like his kitchen, too, if he came with it.

Giada De Laurentiis came in a close second with her pretty and hip kitchen.  In all honestly, I'd love to cook in her kitchen, probably more then Alton's.  It seems so lovely, but not so girly that you expect Martha Stewart to be making homemade baby food in the next room.

As for the final tally, here are all the results:

  1. Alton Brown's quirky and practical kitchen wins with 28 % of the votes.

  2. Giada De Laurentiis' pretty and hip pad comes in second with 27% of the votes.

  3. Ina Garten's clean and colonial kitchen sits comfortably in the middle with 19% of the votes.

  4. Tyler Florence's homey yet masculine digs beat a couple of others with 11% of the votes.

  5. Sandra Lee's matchy matchy cooking spot ties with Rachael Ray's funky color swatch with 7% of the votesrounding out the bottom.

Didn't see your favorite chef's kitchen on the list?  Tell me about it and why you'd love to slave over dinner in it.


Weekly recipe attempt: Everyday Italian

chickenIn an omage to your pick for the hottest female chef, I thought it would be very fitting to pick a recipe from among the lovely Giada De Laurentiis' repertoire of recipes.  That is where I started for my selection and to narrow it down, I had to face something.  An addiction that I have.  My name is Jessica and I'm a grocery-store-a-holic.  I vowed this week to break my frequent grocery store going habit and select a recipe that only used items that I currently have in my fridge or freezer.  So, ladies and gentelmen, I found the perfect recipe.

Weekly recipe attempt: Chicken Florentine Style

Off the bat, I knew that I would have to go with a chicken dish.  My freezer is littered with frozen chicken pieces of every shape and kind.  I also knew that buried somewhere in there was some frozen spinach.  I always have that on hand because one day someone on the Food Network told me to always have it on hand.  These are the two main components in this dish.  You probably picked that up already from the title - Chicken (has chicken) Florentine (has spinach). Ta dah!

Miraculously I had some shallots and a smidge of white wine in my fridge.  I think the wine had been in there for a while, but since I cooked it with other stuff, it seemed fine.  I had some half and half from my morning coffee, which I used instead of whipping cream.  It worked just fine, too.

I did not, however, have any parsley.  But the way I see it is that herbs enhance a dish and while they may be delicious, they do not make or break something.  If I were to run to the store to grab some parsley, I would come back with potato chips, frozen corn dogs and tater tots, all the while forgetting the herbs.  So you see, they never would have made it into the pan in the first place even if I took the effort to go out and buy them.

I really liked this recipe.  Not only was it a new way to eat chicken, but it made me eat spinach as well.  I don't usually use spinach as my main side dish, I mostly put it in stuff like eggs to sneak it into my diet.  But when you put sauce over anything, you have an instant hit.

I give this recipe a 9.  It was simple, pretty, healthy (try using fat free cream and cooking spray in lieu of some of the butter), and delicious.  Once again the beautiful Giada proves why she is number one in our hearts and on our tables.


And the winner is: Giada De Laurentiis

I don't know if anyone is surprised here, but the very lovely, very Italian chef, Giada De Laurentiis has stomped the competition in the latest poll.  Who is the hottest female chef?  40% of you who voted said you love Giada's low cut shirts and fancy measuring cups.

The winner wasn't much of a surprise to me, but the race for second was a heated one.  Nigella Lawson and Paula Deen battled it out for the silver.  I stopped the poll at an even 200 votes and Nigella, my favorite female, beat the silver haired southerner by one vote.  Better luck next year Paula. 

Surprisingly, not that many people voted for Sandra Lee.  I recieved a few e-mails about this topic and a lot of you felt she tried too hard to be sexy or that she was a little too Stepford Wife for you.  I can see that.  No arguments here.

Here's how the results broke down:

  1. Giada De Laurentiis: 79 votes (40% of the total).  Gotta love those low cut tops.

  2. Nigella Lawson:  39 votes (20% of the total)  See, curves can be sexy, too!

  3. Paula Deen:  38 votes (19% of the total)  Hey, y'all!  This proves that grandmas can be hot!

  4. Rachael Ray: 24 votes (12% of the total)  EV uh-oh! Maybe she should cook something sexier than a burger.

  5. Sandra Lee: 18 votes (9% of the total)  Maybe matching your wardrobe to the table is more creepy than sexy, and a little too high maintenance.

  6. Ellie Krieger: 2 votes (1% of the total)  I don't know that enough people know who this is.  Try again next year.

Disagree with the votes?  Feel free to comment. 


Giada De Laurentiis' five favorite home picks

fishI'm not really sure why they asked Giada to pick her favorite home picks, but they did so let's just go with it.  As you may or may not know, the Today Show frequently asks Giada De Laurentiis about anything food related.  This week they went a step further and asked her to attend the 2007 International Home and Housewares Show in Chicago.  So she did.  She also went on to pick her five favorite home picks from that show.  Here were the five and for more information on each thing, click on the link to the Today Show's page:

  1. Keepeez vacuum lids

  2. Thermos Foogo sippy cups

  3. Grill mat and Seasoned Starters and Fruit Stickles

  4. Cake molds

  5. Magic eraser roller mop

Do you want to know what bugged me about this?  I honestly don't care what Giada uses to mop up her floor.  The only person who actually mentions that she cleans her kitchen is Rachael Ray with her G.B. (garbage bowl).  In my mind, Giada is above cleaning.  She hires people to clean it, or she waves her hands and the mess magically disappears.  But to read that she is endorsing a mop and vacuum lids kind of makes me a little sad. 

Maybe I'm wrong.  Did you find this information helpful?  Are you going to run to Target and buy a Magic Eraser Roller Mop because the lovely Giada said it's great?  If you are I really would like to know why.  I just don't get it.  And it still makes me a little sad.


Get to know your favorite Food Network chef with Chefography week

How did Rachael Ray take over our TVs?  Who taught Paula Deen to use all that butter?  Who put the "BAM" in Emeril's sauce?  Tune in this week to the Food Network for Chefography week to find out all the answers about your favorite chefs.

  • Rachael Ray's chefography airs March 23rd @ 8pm ET/PT and March 24th @ 9pm ET/PT

  • Bobby Flay's chefography airs March 23rd @ 9pm ET/PT

  • Ina Garten's chefography airs March 25th @ 2pm ET/PT

  • Nigella Lawson's chefography airs March 21th @ 8pm ET/PT and March 25th @ 3pm ET/PT

  • Paula Deen's chefography airs March 20th @ 8pm ET/PT and March 24th @ 7pm ET/PT

  • Sandra Lee's chefography airs March 20th @ 9pm ET/PT and March 24 @ 10pm ET/PT

  • Tyler Florence's chefography airs March 21th @ 9pm ET/PT and March 25 @ 6pm ET/PT

  • Giada DeLaurentiis' chefography airs March 22th @ 8pm ET/PT and March 25 @ 4pm ET/PT

  • Emeril Lagasse's chefography airs March 24 @ 8pm ET/PT

  • Mario Batalli's chefography airs March 22th @ 9pm ET/PT and March 25 @ 5pm ET/PT

Maybe next time they do Chefography week, they'll delve into Alton Brown's past.  I'd really like to see how he came up with all those cooky gadgets.  Until then, I'll have to settle with the chefs above.  I think I'm ok with that.


Welcome Dinner Meme

DinnerMadeline over at Everthing Rachael Ray tagged me for a meme.  The first thing I had to do was look up what "tagged" meant, and the second was to look up what a "meme" was.  If you are like me, and are new to the whole meme thing, click on this helpful link which was provided in Madeline's post. 

The question posed was this:  Which menu would you serve to blogging friends for a welcome dinner upon their first visit to your home?

Excellent question.  A little ambitious, but excellent nonetheless.  I first have to point out, that if I have people over, I probably won't make a dinner with five parts to it, like Madeline.  In fact, my dinners usually consist of about three things, a bread/rice dish, a meat (usually chicken), and a vegetable.

But, in keeping with the 5 part theme, I will answer with some recipes that I have posted in weekly recipe attempts and fill in the gaps with other Food Network chef recipes.  When I cook for people, I want to impress them.  In order to impress someone with my cooking, it has to be easy and attempted before hand to ensure minimum screw ups.  Here goes nothing.

Appetizer: Black Pepper-Basil Farmer's Cheese Bruschetta with Tomato from Bobby Flay's Boy Meets Grill.  It's really tasty.  Looks impressive.  And it's pretty simple to make.

Salad: I'm sorry.  I have to break the recipe pattern with this one.  My salads usually come out of whatever ingredients I have left on hand once I make the rest of the meal.  It would be a salad with romaine lettuce and leftover vegtables.  That's just how I do salads.

Entree:  Chicken Francese from Tyler Florence's Food 911.  I made this one last week, and I loved it.  It also think it would go well with the bruschetta, and, again, it looks impressive.

Side Dish:  Oven Roasted Green Beans from Emeril.  I love these things and cook them all the time.  I like to use them in place of rice or potatoes when I'm trying to watch my girlish figure.

Dessert:  Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti from Giada's Everyday Italian.  I haven't actually made this one yet, but I think the best way to end any type of gathering is with a cup of coffee and a delicious treat.  What goes better with coffee than biscotti?

Here's who I'm tagging:


Want to see more Giada De Laurentiis?

Food Network thought so.  Adam from the Giada Fan site reports a new show in the works for the beautiful Giada. This new show called "Giada's Weekend Getaways" will premiere on Friday, January 12 at 9:30pm, according to Adam.

This new show seems to be a lot like another traveling cook's show, Rachael Ray's "Tasty Travels."  Adam also comes to the same conclusion and also makes another interesting point, "I see this possibly going the way of Rachael Ray. Before her daytime talk show, she was in at least 4 shows on the food network, mostly about travelling and finding great deals and great food like in Tasty Travels or $40 a day Sound familiar?"

Yes, it does sound familiar, Adam.  I hope we don't get bombarded with Giada now that Rachael has her own network talk show to worry about.  I still love her, but I might get sick of her, like I did with Rachael.  I'll cross my fingers.

For more on this new show and more from Adam, please check out his blog, Giada Fan

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