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Pizza is always tasty.

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Pizza

la bruschetta

During another night in our Tuscan kitchen, we started our evening with some homemade bruschetta.  Very simple, basic ingredients added up to a polished and well-received result.

La bruschetta

Una Bruschetta Toscana

  • Crusty baguette, sliced
  • 4 ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup freshly chopped basil leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place the baguette slices on a cookie sheet, and drizzle with one tablespoon of olive oil. Bake for five minutes, or until golden brown.

Meanwhile, stir chopped tomatoes, basil, garlic, salt and pepper with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.

Top each baguette slice with a spoonful of the prepared topping. Serve immediately.

For a more decadent bruschetta, feel free to add some fresh mozzarella to the topping mix.

Ideally, enjoy outdoors, looking out on the tranquil countryside.

Certaldo

This is how I remember Italy: simple, beautiful, and delicious.

And the next time you make or order bruschetta, please impress your friends by pronouncing it correctly: Bru-sket-ta.

mi manca l’italia

When I was abroad in Italy, I was privy to countless wonderful meals, most of which were lovingly prepared by my host mother, Cristiana.  However, while not cooking our own meals was definitely less work, it made us a bit nostalgic for full-blown kitchen access.

During a weekend visit to Tuscany, four friends and I found ourselves with our own kitchen.  What to make?  Una cena italiana!

La tavola

Our entree of choice: pasta with fresh mozzarella and basil, preceded by local cheeses, meats, and breads.

Vino e formaggio

Accompanying dinner: local wines recommended to us by an old Italian man we talked to in a vineyard between Certaldo and San Gimignano.

Ciao!

This is his grandson, and his photogenic canine friend.

Anyway, back to our dinner.  Since we were among friends, we set the table, but felt no need for serving bowls.

La pasta

Simple enough, and most satisfying, homemade by us.

La pasta, ancora

I hope my host mother would be proud.  Either way, we ate well that night.

gourmet fast food?

On a recent vacation to Nevada, I had the opportunity to try a much-raved-about chain restaurant. While I usually do not frequent this type of cuisine, I was excited to make an exception for an assumedly exceptional locale.

While returning from the Hoover Dam, I dined at In-N-Out Burger.

The spread

I entered armed with advice from In-N-Out veterans J. and M. Their recommendations included animal-style fries and a vanilla milkshake.

Mainly out of curiosity, I also ordered a burger.

The burger

Needless to say, the fries were the hit of the afternoon. Since I preferred the regular ones, it was a relief that L. fell in love with animal-style.  It was also refreshing to read about the freshly peeled potatoes, despite the required squinting to read the words through the leftover animal-style grease tracks on the cardboard carton.

Before

The aftermath

Oh, the vanilla milkshake was my favorite.  Unfortunately it was so covetable, it was un-photographable.

Happy customers

Everyone loves an In-N-Out burger.

a cheesy memory

I have a secret: I am not a big cheese person.

Gasp, I know.  According to many, cheese is one of the most beloved food groups.  These people will also profusely argue that cheese is indeed a food group.

While my preferred form of cheese consumption is definitely pizza, I also quite enjoy brie.  However, I had never tried baked brie until a friend introduced me to her family’s celebrated recipe.

Boy, was it good.

Baked brie

Baked Brie with Kahlua and Almonds

  • 1 wheel of brie
  • Dark brown sugar, to taste
  • Sliced almonds, to taste
  • Kahlua

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place wheel of brie in oven-proof dish.

Sprinkle brown sugar and sliced almonds liberally on brie.  You will not regret too much of either ingredient.

Pour Kahlua over brie until the wheel is thoroughly coated.

Bake until the topping is bubbly, about 8 to 10 minutes.

fajita friday

In honor of Tara’s recent birthday, we kicked off the weekend with a Fajita Friday.  Tara began by prepping limes for a garnish.

Prepping Limes

The birthday girl

She then chopped some onion and bell pepper and sautéed the lot in canola oil, adding a dash of cayenne pepper.

Prepping onions

Prepped veggies

We broke in Molly & Hannah’s new George Foreman grill with some chicken breast marinated in World Harbors Mexican Style Fajita Sauce & Marinade.

Grilled chicken

What would complete our Mexican feast better than a ripe avocado?

Avocado

Why, some Goya Spanish Rice, freshly shredded cheddar cheese, TJs white corn, Ortega salsa, and sour cream, of course.

Fajita Friday

Delicious and nutritious.