Wednesday Blog

Turkey Time: How Do You Cook Your Bird?

Posted by Annette Bellisari on

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, it's time to start thinking about the feast you're going to prepare. If you think turkey always must be the same year after year, you need to keep reading.

The classic way to cook turkey is to thaw a frozen bird, stuff it, then roast it. But year after year of preparing the dish in the same way can get a bit dull. At its most basic, wash the turkey, stuff it, and preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Rub the outside of the turkey with butter, salt, pepper, and garlic powder and fresh rosemary. Bake according to size. It really is that easy. If you are not stuffing your turkey, roast it breast down to ensure the meat stays juicy and tender.

Brining the turkey has become almost commonplace. Using a brine not only infuses the turkey with flavors, it also ensures the meat stays moist while cooking. Just be sure the turkey stays cold while it's in the brine, you don't want to spoil the meat before you get a chance to eat it. A cooler and ice can be used if there isn't enough room in the refrigerator.

My favorite way to cook a turkey is to spatchcock. How it is done is you remove the backbone of a whole bird and lay it flat to cook. You can spatchcock practically any bird; think turkeys, chickens, Cornish game hens and even pigeons. Though the presentation isn’t traditional, there are a few reasons we prefer to spatchcock turkey:   It’s quick. Because the bird is flattened, the cooking time is cut almost in half.

The bird cooks evenly. With a whole bird, the breast meat often dries out before the dark meat is done. By flattening the turkey, the legs and thighs (dark meat) are more exposed to the heat, and so they cook in the same time as the breast. The skin gets nice and crispy. Since the whole bird is equally exposed to heat, every inch of its skin will evenly brown and develop that crave-worthy crispiness. There are numerous videos that can show you how to spatchcock a bird! 🦃

Smoking is a slower cooking process for turkey but yields tasty results. Although, if you've never smoked anything before, I wouldn’t suggest you start experimenting at Thanksgiving. One of the best things about smoking a turkey is the different flavors infused in the meat from the wood chips. Smoking also keeps the meat moist and smooth. Along with the unique flavor and texture you get from smoking a turkey, it keeps the turkey and the mess out of the kitchen. Don't worry if the meat looks a little pink. If the internal temperature is 165 degrees, it's fine. Sometimes there is a chemical reaction from smoking that can change the color of the flesh.

Although it's not the healthiest way to cook turkey, deep frying your bird sure makes it taste great. Another bonus to deep frying is that it takes minimal time to cook. Most recipes call for about an hour compared to four to six hours of roasting. Since this frees up your time and your oven, it's well worth considering. Just be careful. Turkey fryers have been known to catch fire relatively easily. Always use them outside and never leave the deep fryer unattended and never, never use a fry a frozen turkey.

Don't put that grill away yet. Cooking the turkey on the grill is a wonderful way to free up your kitchen and give the bird fabulous flavor. Remember, you can grill in any weather—even in the snow! Just make sure that your grill keeps a constant temperature throughout the cooking process. Use a grill thermometer and occasionally add coals if you're using charcoal. But don't think you can put this on the fire and forget it. Whoever oversees cooking the turkey must spend quite a bit of time with the charcoal. It's hard to keep the grill at a consistent temperature and a meat thermometer is an absolute necessity.

These are just a few of the many ways to cook that Thanksgiving bird. Tell us in the comments how you do yours. Whatever method you choose to use to cook your turkey this year, remember that the best part of the feast is the time we get to spend with loved ones!

Read more

Turkey Time: How Do You Cook Your Bird?

Posted by Annette Bellisari on

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, it's time to start thinking about the feast you're going to prepare. If you think turkey always must be the same year after year, you need to keep reading.

The classic way to cook turkey is to thaw a frozen bird, stuff it, then roast it. But year after year of preparing the dish in the same way can get a bit dull. At its most basic, wash the turkey, stuff it, and preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Rub the outside of the turkey with butter, salt, pepper, and garlic powder and fresh rosemary. Bake according to size. It really is that easy. If you are not stuffing your turkey, roast it breast down to ensure the meat stays juicy and tender.

Brining the turkey has become almost commonplace. Using a brine not only infuses the turkey with flavors, it also ensures the meat stays moist while cooking. Just be sure the turkey stays cold while it's in the brine, you don't want to spoil the meat before you get a chance to eat it. A cooler and ice can be used if there isn't enough room in the refrigerator.

My favorite way to cook a turkey is to spatchcock. How it is done is you remove the backbone of a whole bird and lay it flat to cook. You can spatchcock practically any bird; think turkeys, chickens, Cornish game hens and even pigeons. Though the presentation isn’t traditional, there are a few reasons we prefer to spatchcock turkey:   It’s quick. Because the bird is flattened, the cooking time is cut almost in half.

The bird cooks evenly. With a whole bird, the breast meat often dries out before the dark meat is done. By flattening the turkey, the legs and thighs (dark meat) are more exposed to the heat, and so they cook in the same time as the breast. The skin gets nice and crispy. Since the whole bird is equally exposed to heat, every inch of its skin will evenly brown and develop that crave-worthy crispiness. There are numerous videos that can show you how to spatchcock a bird! 🦃

Smoking is a slower cooking process for turkey but yields tasty results. Although, if you've never smoked anything before, I wouldn’t suggest you start experimenting at Thanksgiving. One of the best things about smoking a turkey is the different flavors infused in the meat from the wood chips. Smoking also keeps the meat moist and smooth. Along with the unique flavor and texture you get from smoking a turkey, it keeps the turkey and the mess out of the kitchen. Don't worry if the meat looks a little pink. If the internal temperature is 165 degrees, it's fine. Sometimes there is a chemical reaction from smoking that can change the color of the flesh.

Although it's not the healthiest way to cook turkey, deep frying your bird sure makes it taste great. Another bonus to deep frying is that it takes minimal time to cook. Most recipes call for about an hour compared to four to six hours of roasting. Since this frees up your time and your oven, it's well worth considering. Just be careful. Turkey fryers have been known to catch fire relatively easily. Always use them outside and never leave the deep fryer unattended and never, never use a fry a frozen turkey.

Don't put that grill away yet. Cooking the turkey on the grill is a wonderful way to free up your kitchen and give the bird fabulous flavor. Remember, you can grill in any weather—even in the snow! Just make sure that your grill keeps a constant temperature throughout the cooking process. Use a grill thermometer and occasionally add coals if you're using charcoal. But don't think you can put this on the fire and forget it. Whoever oversees cooking the turkey must spend quite a bit of time with the charcoal. It's hard to keep the grill at a consistent temperature and a meat thermometer is an absolute necessity.

These are just a few of the many ways to cook that Thanksgiving bird. Tell us in the comments how you do yours. Whatever method you choose to use to cook your turkey this year, remember that the best part of the feast is the time we get to spend with loved ones!

Read more


I Fondue, Do You?

Posted by Annette Bellisari on

Like bellbottoms and miniskirts, whatever’s in vogue seems to come back around. Fashion is cyclical, and so is food! For example, fondue is the ultimate throwback food. Popular in the 1960s, this, too, has come back in style, even inspiring chain restaurants like The Melting Pot. After all, what’s not to love about dipping fresh bread into cheese or pound cake into thick, creamy hot chocolate? As a bonus, it brings people together like no other dish could.

History

Originating from Switzerland, Fondue gets its name from the French word “fonder,” which means “to melt.” Although the original fondue was made from cheese, many related dishes now share the name.

Fondue was once considered peasant fare. It was a practical way to repurpose leftover dried cheese and opened wine. Day-old cubed bread for dipping completed this great culinary concoction.

Types

Fondue refers to a dish made by warming cheese, oil, or chocolate in a specially designed pot over a small flame. Various foods are then dipped into the melted contents of the pot. Fondue can be savory or sweet, eaten as a starter, a main, or a dessert.

At fondue restaurants, you will find many types of fondue beyond simple cheese. Fondue restaurants may feature various meats that can be cooked in heated broth or oil. The cooked meats are then often dipped in a variety of sauces.

A quick internet search will find tons of delicious fondue recipes, with spices and herbs added to enhance the flavor of the cheese, chocolate, or oil. Some of the most common foods eaten with cheese fondue include bread, pretzels, cooked or raw vegetables, and various meats like chicken or beef. Dried or fresh fruit is a very popular companion to chocolate fondue, as are small cakes, cookies, and marshmallows.

Shrimp, chicken, asparagus, and broccoli dipped in hot broths are replacing the high-calorie cheese, bread, and meat dishes that once characterized fondue cooking. The pots offer a host or hostess a seemingly ideal meal for impromptu entertaining that is not only easy to prepare with relatively inexpensive ingredients, but also provides an instant centerpiece conducive to fun interaction.

Equipment

Fondue pots create heat in one of two ways. Either they produce it from an internal coil that heats by electricity, as with your plug-in fondue pots, or they sit above a small flame. Both methods heat pretty slowly (though electric is faster), so most fondue is made on the stove top and transferred to the fondue pot where it's kept at just the right temperature for serving.

A high-quality fondue set can make some of the most comforting foods imaginable, from delicious broths for cooking meats and veggies to thick, oozy cheeses, and, of course, delectable melted chocolates. Owning your own pot will give you an easy-to-use centerpiece for any dinner party or casual get-together. A set generally comes with the pot and several fondue forks, which are long and made especially for dipping at a safe distance from the hot pot.

Etiquette

Although it’s tempting, one should never eat off the fondue fork. It can get way too hot being submerged in hot liquid, and guests can burn themselves. Instead, make sure you give everyone a dining fork to move the food from the fondue fork to guests’ plates (this method is also more sanitary).

With cheese fondue, swirl your dipper in a figure eight motion to stir the dip simultaneously. With any type of fondue, you want to end the process with a short, slow twirl so the excess goes back into the pot and not on your tablecloth.

Don’t monopolize the fondue pot — let everyone take a turn.

Add serving spoons to each pot so guests who don’t want to dip each individual bite can get some sauce on their plates.

Fondues require almost no cooking skill. For the diet-conscious they offer automatic portion control since the individual diner gets to select just as much food as he or she wishes to eat. For those who never like to leave their living room couch, the fondue pot can find a perfect perch on a coffee table. For city dwellers it is the kind of meal that requires no dining room table and can even be comfortably eaten by diners sitting on a circle of cushions on the floor.

Fondue is a great way to share a casual meal with friends or family, as there is very little formal serving required. The fondue pot is usually placed in the center of the table, with smaller plates set around to hold the foods for dipping. Guests simply choose what they like and dip into the fondue pot. Dining on fondue is a communal experience to share with friends, and the dish is simple enough to make on your own.

Maybe this recipe will inspire you to pull out your fondue set. You know you got one as a wedding gift!! 😉

Read more

I Fondue, Do You?

Posted by Annette Bellisari on

Like bellbottoms and miniskirts, whatever’s in vogue seems to come back around. Fashion is cyclical, and so is food! For example, fondue is the ultimate throwback food. Popular in the 1960s, this, too, has come back in style, even inspiring chain restaurants like The Melting Pot. After all, what’s not to love about dipping fresh bread into cheese or pound cake into thick, creamy hot chocolate? As a bonus, it brings people together like no other dish could.

History

Originating from Switzerland, Fondue gets its name from the French word “fonder,” which means “to melt.” Although the original fondue was made from cheese, many related dishes now share the name.

Fondue was once considered peasant fare. It was a practical way to repurpose leftover dried cheese and opened wine. Day-old cubed bread for dipping completed this great culinary concoction.

Types

Fondue refers to a dish made by warming cheese, oil, or chocolate in a specially designed pot over a small flame. Various foods are then dipped into the melted contents of the pot. Fondue can be savory or sweet, eaten as a starter, a main, or a dessert.

At fondue restaurants, you will find many types of fondue beyond simple cheese. Fondue restaurants may feature various meats that can be cooked in heated broth or oil. The cooked meats are then often dipped in a variety of sauces.

A quick internet search will find tons of delicious fondue recipes, with spices and herbs added to enhance the flavor of the cheese, chocolate, or oil. Some of the most common foods eaten with cheese fondue include bread, pretzels, cooked or raw vegetables, and various meats like chicken or beef. Dried or fresh fruit is a very popular companion to chocolate fondue, as are small cakes, cookies, and marshmallows.

Shrimp, chicken, asparagus, and broccoli dipped in hot broths are replacing the high-calorie cheese, bread, and meat dishes that once characterized fondue cooking. The pots offer a host or hostess a seemingly ideal meal for impromptu entertaining that is not only easy to prepare with relatively inexpensive ingredients, but also provides an instant centerpiece conducive to fun interaction.

Equipment

Fondue pots create heat in one of two ways. Either they produce it from an internal coil that heats by electricity, as with your plug-in fondue pots, or they sit above a small flame. Both methods heat pretty slowly (though electric is faster), so most fondue is made on the stove top and transferred to the fondue pot where it's kept at just the right temperature for serving.

A high-quality fondue set can make some of the most comforting foods imaginable, from delicious broths for cooking meats and veggies to thick, oozy cheeses, and, of course, delectable melted chocolates. Owning your own pot will give you an easy-to-use centerpiece for any dinner party or casual get-together. A set generally comes with the pot and several fondue forks, which are long and made especially for dipping at a safe distance from the hot pot.

Etiquette

Although it’s tempting, one should never eat off the fondue fork. It can get way too hot being submerged in hot liquid, and guests can burn themselves. Instead, make sure you give everyone a dining fork to move the food from the fondue fork to guests’ plates (this method is also more sanitary).

With cheese fondue, swirl your dipper in a figure eight motion to stir the dip simultaneously. With any type of fondue, you want to end the process with a short, slow twirl so the excess goes back into the pot and not on your tablecloth.

Don’t monopolize the fondue pot — let everyone take a turn.

Add serving spoons to each pot so guests who don’t want to dip each individual bite can get some sauce on their plates.

Fondues require almost no cooking skill. For the diet-conscious they offer automatic portion control since the individual diner gets to select just as much food as he or she wishes to eat. For those who never like to leave their living room couch, the fondue pot can find a perfect perch on a coffee table. For city dwellers it is the kind of meal that requires no dining room table and can even be comfortably eaten by diners sitting on a circle of cushions on the floor.

Fondue is a great way to share a casual meal with friends or family, as there is very little formal serving required. The fondue pot is usually placed in the center of the table, with smaller plates set around to hold the foods for dipping. Guests simply choose what they like and dip into the fondue pot. Dining on fondue is a communal experience to share with friends, and the dish is simple enough to make on your own.

Maybe this recipe will inspire you to pull out your fondue set. You know you got one as a wedding gift!! 😉

Read more


Stocking the Perfect Holiday Pantry

Posted by Annette Bellisari on

Halloween is behind us, and the holiday season is just around the corner. I get excited for all the trappings of the season -- the gift shopping, the decorating, all the festivities, but my real love lies in stocking my kitchen with goodies for holiday baking, cooking, and entertaining. Your basics might be different than mine, but it’s time to take inventory and make a list of the things you need. Here’s my “must-haves” list to provide some inspiration.

The essentials (many of these items go on sale at this time, so stock up on the things that keep well):

Butter -- Butter keeps for a long time, particularly if you freeze it. I buy unsalted butter for baking and salted butter for slathering on rolls.

Sugar -- Every baker’s pantry should have a few different kinds of sugar. Granulated and brown sugar are essential. Also be sure to grab an extra bag or two of powdered sugar to use in glazes, frosting, and to dust baked goods for a pretty, finished look.

Flour -- All-purpose flour is perfect for almost any baking need, so grab a few bags and you should be set. If you bake a lot of bread or rolls, consider stocking up on bread flour.

Leavening agents -- Baking soda should last almost indefinitely, but it is good to change it every few years anyway. Baking powder is still good if it bubbles when boiling water is added to it. Yeast can be kept for years in the fridge or freezer, but if it has expired, you can check to see if it is still active by adding a packet of yeast (2 1/4 tsp.) to a 1/4 cup of warm water with 1 tsp. Sugar.

Heavy cream -- Whipped cream is the perfect one-size-fits-all dessert topping. Have a bowl ready to top Thanksgiving pies and other yummy desserts throughout the Holiday season. I also keep cream handy for ganache, homemade candy, custards, hot chocolate, and eggnog.

Jams, jellies, and other preserves -- Jams, jellies, and preserves are versatile for baking, cooking, and enjoying on their own. Marmalades and stone-fruit jams are the perfect thing to pair with roasted meats (particularly pork) for a quick sauce. For a great appetizer, top your favorite cracker with a bit of jam and a creamy, fresh cheese.

Corn syrup and molasses -- Corn syrup is essential for many candy recipes. And you can’t have gingerbread cookies without molasses, so be sure to add that to your cupboard too.

Puff pastry and phyllo dough -- Keep some frozen dough in your freezer to pull out for quick and easy appetizers, tarts, and desserts. This helps save time, which is a precious commodity with all those parties to attend.

Canned pumpkin -- I use canned pumpkin for so many things — pie, cake, muffins and breads, pancakes and waffles, soups and stews, and sauces. My pantry would not be complete without it.

Canned evaporated and sweetened condensed milk -- Canned milks come in handy for baking and cooking. Evaporated milk is a good stand-in for cream in soups. Condensed milk makes homemade caramels extra creamy.

Dried fruit and nuts – during this season cookies, breads, and cakes are studded with dried fruit and nuts. My Thanksgiving stuffing wouldn’t be complete without dried cranberries and pecans. Have a bowl or two of mixed nuts and dried fruit next to cheese and crackers for a healthier alternative to sugary treats and to make a buffet table extra snazzy.

Spices, herbs, extracts -- The essential herbs and spices for Holiday baking and cooking are sage, rosemary, thyme, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and vanilla. I also like orange peel and almond extract. These will cover most recipes.

Chocolate -- You’ll want to be sure to include different kinds of chocolate in your pantry. I keep an assortment of unsweetened baking chocolate (for brownies and cakes), chocolate chips (milk, dark, white, other flavors), high-quality chocolate (for dipping chocolates and other recipes), and cocoa powder.

Hot chocolate, assorted teas and coffee, wine and spirits, soft drinks -- A good assortment of hot and cold beverages will help you feel extra festive while you’re decorating the tree, hosting a party, or just sitting down to watch a movie.

Store-bought crackers and cookies -- Time is a precious commodity any time, but especially during the holidays. Packaged goodies are the perfect thing to pull out when you don’t have time to bake a batch of cookies for that last-minute party invitation or need a quick appetizer for the church potluck.

Bellisari’s Gourmet Spreads and Sauces – whether it’s spread on toasted French bread as is or used as a flavorful addition to a recipe, whipping up a gourmet dish has never been easier!

I hope you have fun stocking your pantry with baking essentials and holiday goodies! I know I included a lot of different items on this list, but don’t be overwhelmed. Just pick the products you know you’ll use and think how much you’ll enjoy admiring your well-stocked pantry and feeling confident that your ready for whatever this holiday season presents!

Read more

Stocking the Perfect Holiday Pantry

Posted by Annette Bellisari on

Halloween is behind us, and the holiday season is just around the corner. I get excited for all the trappings of the season -- the gift shopping, the decorating, all the festivities, but my real love lies in stocking my kitchen with goodies for holiday baking, cooking, and entertaining. Your basics might be different than mine, but it’s time to take inventory and make a list of the things you need. Here’s my “must-haves” list to provide some inspiration.

The essentials (many of these items go on sale at this time, so stock up on the things that keep well):

Butter -- Butter keeps for a long time, particularly if you freeze it. I buy unsalted butter for baking and salted butter for slathering on rolls.

Sugar -- Every baker’s pantry should have a few different kinds of sugar. Granulated and brown sugar are essential. Also be sure to grab an extra bag or two of powdered sugar to use in glazes, frosting, and to dust baked goods for a pretty, finished look.

Flour -- All-purpose flour is perfect for almost any baking need, so grab a few bags and you should be set. If you bake a lot of bread or rolls, consider stocking up on bread flour.

Leavening agents -- Baking soda should last almost indefinitely, but it is good to change it every few years anyway. Baking powder is still good if it bubbles when boiling water is added to it. Yeast can be kept for years in the fridge or freezer, but if it has expired, you can check to see if it is still active by adding a packet of yeast (2 1/4 tsp.) to a 1/4 cup of warm water with 1 tsp. Sugar.

Heavy cream -- Whipped cream is the perfect one-size-fits-all dessert topping. Have a bowl ready to top Thanksgiving pies and other yummy desserts throughout the Holiday season. I also keep cream handy for ganache, homemade candy, custards, hot chocolate, and eggnog.

Jams, jellies, and other preserves -- Jams, jellies, and preserves are versatile for baking, cooking, and enjoying on their own. Marmalades and stone-fruit jams are the perfect thing to pair with roasted meats (particularly pork) for a quick sauce. For a great appetizer, top your favorite cracker with a bit of jam and a creamy, fresh cheese.

Corn syrup and molasses -- Corn syrup is essential for many candy recipes. And you can’t have gingerbread cookies without molasses, so be sure to add that to your cupboard too.

Puff pastry and phyllo dough -- Keep some frozen dough in your freezer to pull out for quick and easy appetizers, tarts, and desserts. This helps save time, which is a precious commodity with all those parties to attend.

Canned pumpkin -- I use canned pumpkin for so many things — pie, cake, muffins and breads, pancakes and waffles, soups and stews, and sauces. My pantry would not be complete without it.

Canned evaporated and sweetened condensed milk -- Canned milks come in handy for baking and cooking. Evaporated milk is a good stand-in for cream in soups. Condensed milk makes homemade caramels extra creamy.

Dried fruit and nuts – during this season cookies, breads, and cakes are studded with dried fruit and nuts. My Thanksgiving stuffing wouldn’t be complete without dried cranberries and pecans. Have a bowl or two of mixed nuts and dried fruit next to cheese and crackers for a healthier alternative to sugary treats and to make a buffet table extra snazzy.

Spices, herbs, extracts -- The essential herbs and spices for Holiday baking and cooking are sage, rosemary, thyme, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and vanilla. I also like orange peel and almond extract. These will cover most recipes.

Chocolate -- You’ll want to be sure to include different kinds of chocolate in your pantry. I keep an assortment of unsweetened baking chocolate (for brownies and cakes), chocolate chips (milk, dark, white, other flavors), high-quality chocolate (for dipping chocolates and other recipes), and cocoa powder.

Hot chocolate, assorted teas and coffee, wine and spirits, soft drinks -- A good assortment of hot and cold beverages will help you feel extra festive while you’re decorating the tree, hosting a party, or just sitting down to watch a movie.

Store-bought crackers and cookies -- Time is a precious commodity any time, but especially during the holidays. Packaged goodies are the perfect thing to pull out when you don’t have time to bake a batch of cookies for that last-minute party invitation or need a quick appetizer for the church potluck.

Bellisari’s Gourmet Spreads and Sauces – whether it’s spread on toasted French bread as is or used as a flavorful addition to a recipe, whipping up a gourmet dish has never been easier!

I hope you have fun stocking your pantry with baking essentials and holiday goodies! I know I included a lot of different items on this list, but don’t be overwhelmed. Just pick the products you know you’ll use and think how much you’ll enjoy admiring your well-stocked pantry and feeling confident that your ready for whatever this holiday season presents!

Read more


Chilly Days are Chili Days!

Posted by Annette Bellisari on

As autumn settles in and we can feel the chill of winter coming on, I start to crave warm, comforting foods to serve on these cold days. Chili is almost always the first thing that comes to mind!

At its most basic level, the slow-simmered one-pot dish contains meat, tomatoes, and some form of heat (chiles, chili powder, hot sauce, etc.), but as most fierce chili chefs will tell you, the secret's in the sauce; everyone has his or her own magical blend.

Chili is an iconic American staple, served everywhere from upscale Tex-Mex restaurants to hot dog carts on the sidewalk. It's hearty, it's flavorful, and everyone seems to have their own unique recipe that celebrates this seemingly humble dish.

Traditional Texas-style chili is also known as chili con carne: a blend of meat, tomatoes, and chiles, but strictly free of one ingredient. As devout Texas chili adherents like to say, "If you know beans about chili, you know chili ain't got no beans." Chili beans (that is, chili con carne with beans) is also a perfectly acceptable dish. However, whether in the Lone Star State or elsewhere, beans often show up in chili recipes and were used historically when meat was expensive or scarce.

The fame of chili con carne began to spread, and the dish soon became a major tourist attraction. It was featured at the World's Fair in Chicago in 1893 at the San Antonio Chili Stand.

By the 20th century chili joints had made their debut in Texas and became familiar all over the west by the roaring ‘20s. In fact, by the end of that decade, there was hardly a town that didn't have a chili parlor, which were often no more than a shed or a room with a counter and some stools. It’s been said that chili joints meant the difference between starvation and staying alive during the Great Depression since chili was cheap and crackers were free.

Today’s chili recipes range from traditional to recipes with chicken, white beans, even vegetarian chili is a thing. Check out these delicious chili recipes using our gourmet sauces and spreads: https://bit.ly/2Nbq89S.

Happy Fall, y’all from all of us at Bellisari’s!

Read more

Chilly Days are Chili Days!

Posted by Annette Bellisari on

As autumn settles in and we can feel the chill of winter coming on, I start to crave warm, comforting foods to serve on these cold days. Chili is almost always the first thing that comes to mind!

At its most basic level, the slow-simmered one-pot dish contains meat, tomatoes, and some form of heat (chiles, chili powder, hot sauce, etc.), but as most fierce chili chefs will tell you, the secret's in the sauce; everyone has his or her own magical blend.

Chili is an iconic American staple, served everywhere from upscale Tex-Mex restaurants to hot dog carts on the sidewalk. It's hearty, it's flavorful, and everyone seems to have their own unique recipe that celebrates this seemingly humble dish.

Traditional Texas-style chili is also known as chili con carne: a blend of meat, tomatoes, and chiles, but strictly free of one ingredient. As devout Texas chili adherents like to say, "If you know beans about chili, you know chili ain't got no beans." Chili beans (that is, chili con carne with beans) is also a perfectly acceptable dish. However, whether in the Lone Star State or elsewhere, beans often show up in chili recipes and were used historically when meat was expensive or scarce.

The fame of chili con carne began to spread, and the dish soon became a major tourist attraction. It was featured at the World's Fair in Chicago in 1893 at the San Antonio Chili Stand.

By the 20th century chili joints had made their debut in Texas and became familiar all over the west by the roaring ‘20s. In fact, by the end of that decade, there was hardly a town that didn't have a chili parlor, which were often no more than a shed or a room with a counter and some stools. It’s been said that chili joints meant the difference between starvation and staying alive during the Great Depression since chili was cheap and crackers were free.

Today’s chili recipes range from traditional to recipes with chicken, white beans, even vegetarian chili is a thing. Check out these delicious chili recipes using our gourmet sauces and spreads: https://bit.ly/2Nbq89S.

Happy Fall, y’all from all of us at Bellisari’s!

Read more


Trick or Treat: Halloween Hurries and Cooking Worries

Posted by Annette Bellisari on

Halloween is such a fun holiday when your kids are at an age that they’re excited about it, and I’m lucky enough to live in a neighborhood that enjoys the celebration. However, trick or treat usually falls on a weeknight, and for most of us, it’s a workday as well. I always tell myself that I’m going to knock off early on this day – you know, be home early to help the kids with costumes, get my own home ready to hand out candy, and maybe I’ll have time to put my witch costume on myself! Invariably we’re invited to a gathering on the street that requires I bring a dish to share, so I’ll need time to prepare something worthy of taking.

Sounds fun, right? Now let me tell you how it usually goes! As I start to clean up my desk around 3:00 for my early escape, it never fails that an emergency or some other detail needs my immediate attention. Before I know it, it’s 4:30, and I’m still working. Shut everything down and get home as fast as possible. If you work from home, at least you don’t have to commute, but I still always seem to get wrapped up in work stuff way longer than I intended.

“Mom, where are my vampire teeth?! Can you make me up to look like there’s blood around my mouth?”

“Mom, this costume is too scary! Can I go as something else?”

“Mom, we need a bag for carrying all of our candy...a BIG bag!”

I spring into action to find my reddest lipstick, I grab an old flannel shirt and some ripped up jeans to offer a less scary “Hobo” option, and I grab two pillow cases from the linen closet. I’ve got this! I get them all ready and out the door with a group of friends reminding them to all stick together.

Now I just need to prepare my dish for the party and get myself ready for handing out candy and making an appearance at the annual Halloween shindig. As I look in the mirror to start to put on my witch’s wig, hat, makeup, etc., I realize the wig and makeup won’t be necessary! 😉

It’s been a long day, and the last thing you want to do is cook a complicated dish to take to a party, so here is an easy and quick recipe that’ll keep your friends spellbound:

Frankenguac Halloween Party Appetizer Recipe (Borrowed from Dineanddish.net)

A fun Halloween Party Idea using fresh California Avocados to make a quirky and cute guacamole dip shaped like Frankenstein. Meet Frankenguac!

Ingredients

1 batch of your favorite guacamole using fresh California Avocados I love this recipe but didn't include the tomatoes

1 handful of blue tortilla chips

2 tablespoons of sour cream

1/4 cup sliced olives

Instructions

To assemble Frankenguac:

Spoon guacamole onto a rectangle platter, using a flat edged scraper to shape into a rectangle.

Place chips near the top of his head, with triangle tip pointing down.

Add two dollops of sour cream for the whites of the eyes and top each with a sliced olive end piece (without the hole)

For the mouth, push sliced olives with rounded edges facing up into the guacamole, shaping it like Frankenstein's mouth.

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Trick or Treat: Halloween Hurries and Cooking Worries

Posted by Annette Bellisari on

Halloween is such a fun holiday when your kids are at an age that they’re excited about it, and I’m lucky enough to live in a neighborhood that enjoys the celebration. However, trick or treat usually falls on a weeknight, and for most of us, it’s a workday as well. I always tell myself that I’m going to knock off early on this day – you know, be home early to help the kids with costumes, get my own home ready to hand out candy, and maybe I’ll have time to put my witch costume on myself! Invariably we’re invited to a gathering on the street that requires I bring a dish to share, so I’ll need time to prepare something worthy of taking.

Sounds fun, right? Now let me tell you how it usually goes! As I start to clean up my desk around 3:00 for my early escape, it never fails that an emergency or some other detail needs my immediate attention. Before I know it, it’s 4:30, and I’m still working. Shut everything down and get home as fast as possible. If you work from home, at least you don’t have to commute, but I still always seem to get wrapped up in work stuff way longer than I intended.

“Mom, where are my vampire teeth?! Can you make me up to look like there’s blood around my mouth?”

“Mom, this costume is too scary! Can I go as something else?”

“Mom, we need a bag for carrying all of our candy...a BIG bag!”

I spring into action to find my reddest lipstick, I grab an old flannel shirt and some ripped up jeans to offer a less scary “Hobo” option, and I grab two pillow cases from the linen closet. I’ve got this! I get them all ready and out the door with a group of friends reminding them to all stick together.

Now I just need to prepare my dish for the party and get myself ready for handing out candy and making an appearance at the annual Halloween shindig. As I look in the mirror to start to put on my witch’s wig, hat, makeup, etc., I realize the wig and makeup won’t be necessary! 😉

It’s been a long day, and the last thing you want to do is cook a complicated dish to take to a party, so here is an easy and quick recipe that’ll keep your friends spellbound:

Frankenguac Halloween Party Appetizer Recipe (Borrowed from Dineanddish.net)

A fun Halloween Party Idea using fresh California Avocados to make a quirky and cute guacamole dip shaped like Frankenstein. Meet Frankenguac!

Ingredients

1 batch of your favorite guacamole using fresh California Avocados I love this recipe but didn't include the tomatoes

1 handful of blue tortilla chips

2 tablespoons of sour cream

1/4 cup sliced olives

Instructions

To assemble Frankenguac:

Spoon guacamole onto a rectangle platter, using a flat edged scraper to shape into a rectangle.

Place chips near the top of his head, with triangle tip pointing down.

Add two dollops of sour cream for the whites of the eyes and top each with a sliced olive end piece (without the hole)

For the mouth, push sliced olives with rounded edges facing up into the guacamole, shaping it like Frankenstein's mouth.

Read more