Wednesday Blog

The Handy Electric Griddle

Posted by Annette Bellisari on

Anyone who loves cooking knows just how important it is to have that one piece of equipment in the kitchen that is multi-functional. For me, an electric griddle is one of the most useful multi-purpose items in the kitchen.

What exactly is an electric griddle anyway? And why should you consider spending money on and devoting kitchen space to one? As opposed to loading your stovetop with all different kinds of pans, you can hook up a griddle wherever you have an electrical outlet and use it to make your favorite breakfast foods (or other items that benefit from a completely flat cooking surface) at once.

The flat, rectangular surface is warmed from below by a built-in heating element that’s powered and regulated by temperature controls, as opposed to significantly smaller (and awkwardly-shaped) pans, which inevitably have cold and hot spots as they’re heated by a single, round, hard to stabilize flame (or electric coil) on a stove.

Electric griddles provide even heating, so no matter where you place your food on it, the food can all cook at optimum temperatures. Plus, griddles offer significantly more square footage than your average pan, so you won’t need to cook in batches, helping you feed a crowd without any of the meal’s parts sitting around and getting cold. The surfaces are generally nonstick ( watch out for options that aren’t), so you can cook with less grease—in fact, many models have features that allow fat to leach away from your food. It also makes them easy to clean; especially if the griddle comes with removable plates with little to no scrubbing required.

When it comes to buying an electric griddle, size matters. There are smaller, sometimes collapsible models, which are easier to keep in tiny kitchens, and perfectly adequate if you don’t often invite lots of people over for brunch. But you’ll probably want to go with a larger option for families since these griddles make it easier to cook entire meals at once and allow everyone to eat at the same time. Either way, make sure you have the storage space to accommodate one; griddles tend to be the size of oversized cutting boards, but are much bulkier and heavier. Also, look for units that include heating controls with an extensive temperature range. Some griddles even come with dual thermostats, so you can select different heats on each side (a higher temp for searing burgers, perhaps, and a lower one for eggs). Other electric griddles offer detachable grill plates as well, so you can mix up your cooking methods by making steak or pancakes.

I love my electric griddle for all the reasons mentioned, but I especially like to make these amazing Bellisari’s recipes! Pumpkin Pancakes, Balsamic Grilled Cheese, or this Grilled Turkey Panini. Check out these recipes and many others on our website.

Read more

The Handy Electric Griddle

Posted by Annette Bellisari on

Anyone who loves cooking knows just how important it is to have that one piece of equipment in the kitchen that is multi-functional. For me, an electric griddle is one of the most useful multi-purpose items in the kitchen.

What exactly is an electric griddle anyway? And why should you consider spending money on and devoting kitchen space to one? As opposed to loading your stovetop with all different kinds of pans, you can hook up a griddle wherever you have an electrical outlet and use it to make your favorite breakfast foods (or other items that benefit from a completely flat cooking surface) at once.

The flat, rectangular surface is warmed from below by a built-in heating element that’s powered and regulated by temperature controls, as opposed to significantly smaller (and awkwardly-shaped) pans, which inevitably have cold and hot spots as they’re heated by a single, round, hard to stabilize flame (or electric coil) on a stove.

Electric griddles provide even heating, so no matter where you place your food on it, the food can all cook at optimum temperatures. Plus, griddles offer significantly more square footage than your average pan, so you won’t need to cook in batches, helping you feed a crowd without any of the meal’s parts sitting around and getting cold. The surfaces are generally nonstick ( watch out for options that aren’t), so you can cook with less grease—in fact, many models have features that allow fat to leach away from your food. It also makes them easy to clean; especially if the griddle comes with removable plates with little to no scrubbing required.

When it comes to buying an electric griddle, size matters. There are smaller, sometimes collapsible models, which are easier to keep in tiny kitchens, and perfectly adequate if you don’t often invite lots of people over for brunch. But you’ll probably want to go with a larger option for families since these griddles make it easier to cook entire meals at once and allow everyone to eat at the same time. Either way, make sure you have the storage space to accommodate one; griddles tend to be the size of oversized cutting boards, but are much bulkier and heavier. Also, look for units that include heating controls with an extensive temperature range. Some griddles even come with dual thermostats, so you can select different heats on each side (a higher temp for searing burgers, perhaps, and a lower one for eggs). Other electric griddles offer detachable grill plates as well, so you can mix up your cooking methods by making steak or pancakes.

I love my electric griddle for all the reasons mentioned, but I especially like to make these amazing Bellisari’s recipes! Pumpkin Pancakes, Balsamic Grilled Cheese, or this Grilled Turkey Panini. Check out these recipes and many others on our website.

Read more


What’s the Plan? Use a Sheet Pan!

Posted by Annette Bellisari on

Cook a healthy, family-friendly meal—and avoid the dreaded dish washing—by putting together easy sheet pan dinners. A sheet-pan dinner—where everything is roasted all together on one rimmed baking sheet—is sure to become a weeknight go-to, and not just because it means less dishes to wash. Everything from meat loaf to roasted chicken to jambalaya can be cooked with just a single sheet pan, making your weeknight easier and tastier. And while whole cookbooks have been written about sheet pan suppers, and Pinterest is a source of endless inspiration, you can make a sheet pan supper however you like armed with just a little knowledge.

Timing -- The success of a sheet pan supper lies in the timing. As you know, various ingredients cook at various rates. Ideally you choose ingredients that take roughly the same amount of time to cook, but sometimes you must stagger the timing of what goes in the oven and when. To avoid overcooked meats and undercooked vegetables, you may have to cook components separately at various points of the process. Getting the timing right may take some trial and error. Your first sheet pan supper creation may not be perfect, but it will "more than likely" be edible. Next time around adjust based on your experience. Small details, like cutting vegetables roughly the same size, can make a huge difference in the final product. Consider preheating your sheet pan. A hot sheet pan will give the cooking process a jumpstart and encourage desirable browning.  

Choose wisely -- If you consider a complete meal to be one that includes a protein, vegetable, and starch, strive to hit two of the three categories with your sheet pan concoction. If you can include a protein and a starch, think about serving some sautéed greens, steamed vegetables, or a simple salad on the side. If you include a vegetable and a starch, think about topping it all off with some poached or fried or hard-boiled eggs or toss it all with some cooked chickpeas or beans. The goal, of course, is to keep things simple, and if you manage to include all three categories on the sheet pan, you’ve found a real keeper.

Keep food moist and tasty -- At a minimum, toss everything with olive or other oil (grapeseed, coconut, canola), and salt and pepper. If you’re up for it, make a sauce that includes an acid (citrus or vinegar), some umami (soy sauce, Worcestershire, or fish sauce), and/or something spicy (Sriracha, Tabasco, harissa). These can be thrown together quickly while your sheet pan meal is roasting.

Keep it healthy – The sheet pan meal is so easy to do in a healthy way. Simply choose your favorite in-season veggies and a low-fat protein. Go easy on the oil, and skip heavy, fat and sugar-laden sauces. By adding herbs and spices, you can really raise the flavor quotient without raising the calorie count.

Visit https://bit.ly/2MMFnq7 for some great ideas for sheet pan meals.

Read more

What’s the Plan? Use a Sheet Pan!

Posted by Annette Bellisari on

Cook a healthy, family-friendly meal—and avoid the dreaded dish washing—by putting together easy sheet pan dinners. A sheet-pan dinner—where everything is roasted all together on one rimmed baking sheet—is sure to become a weeknight go-to, and not just because it means less dishes to wash. Everything from meat loaf to roasted chicken to jambalaya can be cooked with just a single sheet pan, making your weeknight easier and tastier. And while whole cookbooks have been written about sheet pan suppers, and Pinterest is a source of endless inspiration, you can make a sheet pan supper however you like armed with just a little knowledge.

Timing -- The success of a sheet pan supper lies in the timing. As you know, various ingredients cook at various rates. Ideally you choose ingredients that take roughly the same amount of time to cook, but sometimes you must stagger the timing of what goes in the oven and when. To avoid overcooked meats and undercooked vegetables, you may have to cook components separately at various points of the process. Getting the timing right may take some trial and error. Your first sheet pan supper creation may not be perfect, but it will "more than likely" be edible. Next time around adjust based on your experience. Small details, like cutting vegetables roughly the same size, can make a huge difference in the final product. Consider preheating your sheet pan. A hot sheet pan will give the cooking process a jumpstart and encourage desirable browning.  

Choose wisely -- If you consider a complete meal to be one that includes a protein, vegetable, and starch, strive to hit two of the three categories with your sheet pan concoction. If you can include a protein and a starch, think about serving some sautéed greens, steamed vegetables, or a simple salad on the side. If you include a vegetable and a starch, think about topping it all off with some poached or fried or hard-boiled eggs or toss it all with some cooked chickpeas or beans. The goal, of course, is to keep things simple, and if you manage to include all three categories on the sheet pan, you’ve found a real keeper.

Keep food moist and tasty -- At a minimum, toss everything with olive or other oil (grapeseed, coconut, canola), and salt and pepper. If you’re up for it, make a sauce that includes an acid (citrus or vinegar), some umami (soy sauce, Worcestershire, or fish sauce), and/or something spicy (Sriracha, Tabasco, harissa). These can be thrown together quickly while your sheet pan meal is roasting.

Keep it healthy – The sheet pan meal is so easy to do in a healthy way. Simply choose your favorite in-season veggies and a low-fat protein. Go easy on the oil, and skip heavy, fat and sugar-laden sauces. By adding herbs and spices, you can really raise the flavor quotient without raising the calorie count.

Visit https://bit.ly/2MMFnq7 for some great ideas for sheet pan meals.

Read more


New Year’s Food Traditions

Posted by Annette Bellisari on

I love reading and learning about New Year’s Food Traditions from around the world. Some many traditions claim good fortune, long life, etc. Check out our blog this week to learn a few.

According to tradition, the foods you eat on New Year’s Day will bring you good fortune in the year to come. Around the world, these traditions vary greatly -- special cakes and breads abound, as do long noodles (representing long life), field peas (representing coins), herring (representing abundance) and pigs (representing good luck). The details are different, but the general theme is the same: Share food and drink with family and friends to usher in a year of prosperity.

Here are some of the most common New Year's food traditions here in the U.S.A.:

Pork -- Ham is often a holiday centerpiece, but pork is specifically known to bring good luck on New Year’s Day. Why is pork on New Year’s a tradition? First, it has to do with the way pigs, as opposed to other animals, behave. According to some theorists, while chickens and turkeys scratch backward, a pig buries his snout into the ground and moves forward—in the same direction you want to head in the New Year. Another reason is logistics: Pigs are traditionally slaughtered in late fall, which made pork an ideal choice to set aside for celebrating the New Year. Pork eaten on New Year’s is a tradition that hails from Germany and Eastern Europe.

Cabbage -- Right alongside the pork is often sauerkraut or some form of cabbage. This tradition also hails from Germany and Eastern Europe, and is, again, rooted in simple logistics: A late fall harvest, coupled with a six-to-eight-week fermenting process means that sauerkraut is just about ready when New Year’s rolls around. But cabbage on New Year’s is also steeped in symbolism—the strands of cabbage in sauerkraut or coleslaw can symbolize a long life, while cabbage can also symbolize money. Along with cabbage, other greens such as collard, mustard, and kale are known to be lucky for New Year’s. It’s all about the green, which symbolizes money and prosperity.

Black-eyed peas -- Eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is a time-honored tradition in the southern part of our country. Not to be confused with green peas, black-eyed peas are a kind of bean. There are a few different reasons why they’re associated with luck on New Year’s Day. One theory anchors the tradition in the Civil War, when Union soldiers raided the Confederate army’s food supply, leaving behind only this bean thinking it was animal food. Another is anchored in African American history, where newly-freed slaves celebrated the January 1863 Emancipation Proclamation with dishes made of black-eyed peas—one of the few foods available to slaves. Still, other theories date the legume's lucky reputation all the way back to Ancient Egypt, suggesting that eating the pea—a vegetable readily available to even the poorest slaves—was a way to show humility to the gods.

For inspiration and new ways to make these traditional foods, visit the recipes section of our website: https://bellisaris.com/pages/recipes. Simply search using the key words pork or cabbage to find some delicious versions that turn these New Year’s staples into “gourmet” good-luck foods. Happy New Year from all of us at Bellisari’s!

Read more

New Year’s Food Traditions

Posted by Annette Bellisari on

I love reading and learning about New Year’s Food Traditions from around the world. Some many traditions claim good fortune, long life, etc. Check out our blog this week to learn a few.

According to tradition, the foods you eat on New Year’s Day will bring you good fortune in the year to come. Around the world, these traditions vary greatly -- special cakes and breads abound, as do long noodles (representing long life), field peas (representing coins), herring (representing abundance) and pigs (representing good luck). The details are different, but the general theme is the same: Share food and drink with family and friends to usher in a year of prosperity.

Here are some of the most common New Year's food traditions here in the U.S.A.:

Pork -- Ham is often a holiday centerpiece, but pork is specifically known to bring good luck on New Year’s Day. Why is pork on New Year’s a tradition? First, it has to do with the way pigs, as opposed to other animals, behave. According to some theorists, while chickens and turkeys scratch backward, a pig buries his snout into the ground and moves forward—in the same direction you want to head in the New Year. Another reason is logistics: Pigs are traditionally slaughtered in late fall, which made pork an ideal choice to set aside for celebrating the New Year. Pork eaten on New Year’s is a tradition that hails from Germany and Eastern Europe.

Cabbage -- Right alongside the pork is often sauerkraut or some form of cabbage. This tradition also hails from Germany and Eastern Europe, and is, again, rooted in simple logistics: A late fall harvest, coupled with a six-to-eight-week fermenting process means that sauerkraut is just about ready when New Year’s rolls around. But cabbage on New Year’s is also steeped in symbolism—the strands of cabbage in sauerkraut or coleslaw can symbolize a long life, while cabbage can also symbolize money. Along with cabbage, other greens such as collard, mustard, and kale are known to be lucky for New Year’s. It’s all about the green, which symbolizes money and prosperity.

Black-eyed peas -- Eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is a time-honored tradition in the southern part of our country. Not to be confused with green peas, black-eyed peas are a kind of bean. There are a few different reasons why they’re associated with luck on New Year’s Day. One theory anchors the tradition in the Civil War, when Union soldiers raided the Confederate army’s food supply, leaving behind only this bean thinking it was animal food. Another is anchored in African American history, where newly-freed slaves celebrated the January 1863 Emancipation Proclamation with dishes made of black-eyed peas—one of the few foods available to slaves. Still, other theories date the legume's lucky reputation all the way back to Ancient Egypt, suggesting that eating the pea—a vegetable readily available to even the poorest slaves—was a way to show humility to the gods.

For inspiration and new ways to make these traditional foods, visit the recipes section of our website: https://bellisaris.com/pages/recipes. Simply search using the key words pork or cabbage to find some delicious versions that turn these New Year’s staples into “gourmet” good-luck foods. Happy New Year from all of us at Bellisari’s!

Read more


Holiday Greetings from Bellisari's

Posted by Annette Bellisari on

Our team sends holiday greetings to you and your family (even the furry ones). May your season be as meaningful to you as your continued patronage to us

Read more

Holiday Greetings from Bellisari's

Posted by Annette Bellisari on

Our team sends holiday greetings to you and your family (even the furry ones). May your season be as meaningful to you as your continued patronage to us

Read more


Create a Tablescape Without Blowing the Budget

Posted by Annette Bellisari on

A tablescape is simply a blanket term that combines your table’s centerpiece and place settings or the overall decoration of your table. Tablescapes set the mood in an event – whether it’s a garden wedding, an intimate dinner party, or Sunday brunch with friends. A tablescape is meant to elevate an entertaining experience. It’s a way to show your guests that you care about them and that the meal is special. This doesn’t have to be something that you spend a ton of money on or even any money at all! Some of the prettiest tablescapes I’ve ever seen have included flowers picked from the yard and everyday dishes.

These tips will help you design the look you want:

Find your inspiration -- You can be inspired by the season, a holiday, a place, or a color/pattern. Sometimes an item will jump out at you while shopping and you’ll create a tablescape around it. Other times you’ll feel drawn to a flower and that will set the color scheme for the entire thing! This time of year is easy because your theme can be holiday related, or even more versatile, use winter elements like snowflakes, pine cones, etc. This can work for the entire season!

Gather Your Materials -- Many items you use can be things you already have. Basics include things like dishes, silverware, glasses, napkins, runner/tablecloth, candlesticks, candles, glassware, serving pieces, flowers/branches which can be faux or natural. The best two items to have in your tablescaping arsenal include white dishes and clear glassware. These are the basics to which you can add as much color, texture, and/or drama as you like vis a vis napkins, placemats, tablecloths, and centerpieces.

Choose Your Base -- Before you begin, choose a tablecloth, runner, or whatever will lay the foundation for creating your tablescape. If you don’t intend to use the table for anything else but display, plan away. Otherwise, take up no more than 1/3 of your table with a tablescape. You want your tablescape to stay intact, but make sure that people can still set down their plates and cups without bumping things over. One of my favorite things to use as a runner is craft paper, which guests can then write on. I’ve also seen people use blankets and scarves. Be creative!

Compile Your Centerpiece -- The centerpiece is the most important part of your tablescape, so create it first. You usually don’t want to create displays that are so tall that your guests can’t see people right across from them at the table. I generally put the tallest candles and florals closer to the heads of the table, but I offset them from each other. For example, for those sitting at the opposite heads of the table, the floral arrangements will both be to their right hands, so opposite sides and not in a visual straight line. I like to vary texture throughout my tablescapes. I do this with natural elements such as branches and flowers and even through things like a woven runner or rattan chargers. The “Rule of Threes” applies to creating tablescapes. I love to use three candleholders, three different types of flowers, three colors etc. After placing the larger items, I sometimes go through and tuck greens or floral branches throughout the centerpiece. I also sometimes scatter votive glasses (in safe, non-flammable spots) to break up the symmetry. A centerpiece can be as simple as a bowl of fruit or a vase filled with flowers. It can be as complex as the imagination will allow. It should always, however, make a statement about the meal itself, the guest of honor, or the theme (e.g., Christmas, Valentine’s Day).

Create Your Place Settings -- This is where your guests sit to eat and converse, so create your place settings thoughtfully. Include things you’ll need for the food you’re serving, like a soup bowl if you’re serving soup or stew. Begin with your charger or placemat, then plate. From there add any additional items. I often place napkins on top of the plates with a napkin ring and use a casual utensil arrangement. Other times I’ve wrapped my utensils in the napkin.

If unsure about what might work together, look at some of the high-end stores or hop on the Internet to see what’s trending. Pinterest is a great source for inspiration. Then tailor it to make sense for your event and guest list. Obviously, when hosting a meal, the food is extremely important, so keep a stock of Bellisari’s Gourment Spreads and Sauces in the pantry to create delicious dishes for your guests, but remember, presentation counts for a lot too! Happy Holidays from all of us at Bellisari’s!

Read more

Create a Tablescape Without Blowing the Budget

Posted by Annette Bellisari on

A tablescape is simply a blanket term that combines your table’s centerpiece and place settings or the overall decoration of your table. Tablescapes set the mood in an event – whether it’s a garden wedding, an intimate dinner party, or Sunday brunch with friends. A tablescape is meant to elevate an entertaining experience. It’s a way to show your guests that you care about them and that the meal is special. This doesn’t have to be something that you spend a ton of money on or even any money at all! Some of the prettiest tablescapes I’ve ever seen have included flowers picked from the yard and everyday dishes.

These tips will help you design the look you want:

Find your inspiration -- You can be inspired by the season, a holiday, a place, or a color/pattern. Sometimes an item will jump out at you while shopping and you’ll create a tablescape around it. Other times you’ll feel drawn to a flower and that will set the color scheme for the entire thing! This time of year is easy because your theme can be holiday related, or even more versatile, use winter elements like snowflakes, pine cones, etc. This can work for the entire season!

Gather Your Materials -- Many items you use can be things you already have. Basics include things like dishes, silverware, glasses, napkins, runner/tablecloth, candlesticks, candles, glassware, serving pieces, flowers/branches which can be faux or natural. The best two items to have in your tablescaping arsenal include white dishes and clear glassware. These are the basics to which you can add as much color, texture, and/or drama as you like vis a vis napkins, placemats, tablecloths, and centerpieces.

Choose Your Base -- Before you begin, choose a tablecloth, runner, or whatever will lay the foundation for creating your tablescape. If you don’t intend to use the table for anything else but display, plan away. Otherwise, take up no more than 1/3 of your table with a tablescape. You want your tablescape to stay intact, but make sure that people can still set down their plates and cups without bumping things over. One of my favorite things to use as a runner is craft paper, which guests can then write on. I’ve also seen people use blankets and scarves. Be creative!

Compile Your Centerpiece -- The centerpiece is the most important part of your tablescape, so create it first. You usually don’t want to create displays that are so tall that your guests can’t see people right across from them at the table. I generally put the tallest candles and florals closer to the heads of the table, but I offset them from each other. For example, for those sitting at the opposite heads of the table, the floral arrangements will both be to their right hands, so opposite sides and not in a visual straight line. I like to vary texture throughout my tablescapes. I do this with natural elements such as branches and flowers and even through things like a woven runner or rattan chargers. The “Rule of Threes” applies to creating tablescapes. I love to use three candleholders, three different types of flowers, three colors etc. After placing the larger items, I sometimes go through and tuck greens or floral branches throughout the centerpiece. I also sometimes scatter votive glasses (in safe, non-flammable spots) to break up the symmetry. A centerpiece can be as simple as a bowl of fruit or a vase filled with flowers. It can be as complex as the imagination will allow. It should always, however, make a statement about the meal itself, the guest of honor, or the theme (e.g., Christmas, Valentine’s Day).

Create Your Place Settings -- This is where your guests sit to eat and converse, so create your place settings thoughtfully. Include things you’ll need for the food you’re serving, like a soup bowl if you’re serving soup or stew. Begin with your charger or placemat, then plate. From there add any additional items. I often place napkins on top of the plates with a napkin ring and use a casual utensil arrangement. Other times I’ve wrapped my utensils in the napkin.

If unsure about what might work together, look at some of the high-end stores or hop on the Internet to see what’s trending. Pinterest is a great source for inspiration. Then tailor it to make sense for your event and guest list. Obviously, when hosting a meal, the food is extremely important, so keep a stock of Bellisari’s Gourment Spreads and Sauces in the pantry to create delicious dishes for your guests, but remember, presentation counts for a lot too! Happy Holidays from all of us at Bellisari’s!

Read more