Blogging suspended

Posted By mattantonino / July, 6, 2011 / 0 comments

I thought I should put up one post to let everyone know – I’m suspending blogging on StartingtoCook.

Simply put, I love blogging here but don’t have time to run all of my businesses, get myself moved to Australia, blog here as well as I’d like and the feedback, commenting and ad return so far don’t justify the time I’m putting into the work.  So I’m closing the blog for now.  I don’t know if or when it will return.  It’s been fun food blogging but I need to focus on food shooting and getting moved, visa approved, and my new wedding & portrait business started in Melbourne.

Thanks for reading!


9 Great Recipe Sites

Posted By mattantonino / June, 26, 2011 / 0 comments

Inspiration comes from many places for me.  As a new cook I tend to stick to the basics (ingredients, techniques, etc.) and learn as I go.

For recipe tracking I use LivingCookbook because it’s *perfection* in recipe form.  I have about 52,000 recipes in my LivingCookbook from all sorts of places.  You can import (and export) Mealmaster format, a LivingCookbook format, plaintext and more.  I use the RecipeFox plugin for Firefox to grab and save recipes off the major sites.  It comes with a list of 100s of recipe sites.  These are some of my favorites, many of which use RecipeFox.

Usual Suspects

1) Food Network

Great for finding recipes from your favorite FN stars (such as the ever-hot Giada).  A dedicated Healthy Eating section, full episodes of your favorite shows and recipes that easily export to MealMaster, LivingCookbook or plain text format.  A large database of great recipes makes this a no-brainer at #1.

2) AllRecipes

A HUGE database of fantastic recipes along with the best ingredient search tool makes this my go-to site.  Easily export any recipe to MealMaster, LivingCookbook or plain text with RecipeFox.

3) Saveur

A little higher-end fare (read: fancy) makes Saveur a keeper.  While not being as culinarily challenging as Epicurious, many of Saveur’s recipes are accessible, tasty and excellent.  RecipeFox integration makes this my 3rd favorite recipe site.  RecipeFox friendly.

4) Epicurious

You will be more likely to find a Roasted Vegetable and Prosciutto Lasagna with Alfredo Sauce than a traditional chicken alfredo but that’s why I love Epicurious.  This site is advanced and typically not what the home cook makes.  (The first recipe under Christmas is a Prosecco-Raspberry Gelee)  If you have orange-flower water and Prosecco in your pantry, this is the site for you.  (If you have no idea what those are, this site may be overwhelming at first.)  RecipeFox friendly as well.

Under the Radar

5) DrinksMixer

Quite possibly the only mixed drink site you need.  I have never really had much trouble finding anything on here. Recipes for everything from A Berry Breakfast Drink to the Zipper.  Search by ingredient, drink name, etc.  Terminology, a glossary and drinking games.  RecipeFox friendly!

6) VisualRecipes

Step-by-step photographic how-to of each recipe.  This site is a MUST for new cooks.

7) Cooking Light

This is my favorite healthy-only site. With a healthy cooking 101 section and my favorite – recipe makeovers, and one of my favorite magazines, this was a must-include on my favorite recipe sites.

Personal Faves

8) Recipe Goldmine

Another *huge* recipe site with all sorts of great and simple foods. This is my go-to site when I just need something I can make tonight.

9) Jamie Oliver’s site

I’ll admit it – I’m a sucker for Jamie’s cooking. I am the only American I know who watches Oliver’s Twist. I don’t understand his temps or half the ingredients he says until I see them.  I don’t care.  I would watch Jamie cook all day (and sometimes do!)  My mini shell pea pasta and smoky bacon sauce is a Jamie food.  They are homecooked goodness and rich, high quality skill.  Does he cook 89-star food?  Not usually.  Is he amazing in a kitchen?  Absolutely.

Maine Blueberry Muffins

Posted By mattantonino / November, 18, 2010 / 0 comments

How about a recipe today?  I’d love to, thanks for asking!  These are my Maine blueberry muffins.  Why Maine?  Because this recipe uses real Maine blueberries.  You don’t have those?  You can substitute the ones your local store has – just don’t expect them to taste like fresh Maine blueberries.  *grin*

Two secret ingredients make this recipe rock: lemon juice and cinnamon.  These turned out beautifully and even though I’m just “starting to cook” I enjoyed playing with several blueberry muffin recipes to create the best blueberry muffins I’ve eaten.  The photos came out *very* well, too, which really made me happy!

one blueberry muffin set in a pile of fresh blueberries

small stack of blueberry muffins and fresh blueberries

blueberry muffins and fresh blueberries

blueberry muffin and berries on a wodden cutting board

big plate of blueberry muffins surrounded by blueberries

blueberry muffins on a stack of fresh blueberries

Read more will get you to the recipe!

Continue reading…

Going Bananas!

Posted By mattantonino / August, 30, 2010 / 0 comments

Wow, sorry for the incredibly long absence!  I thought I was going to just move, settle in and be ready to go.  Not really, no. I moved from Syracuse, NY to Maine in early July and now I’m finally getting to the point where I’m starting to food again regularly.  That’s to blog, or shoot, or even think about, really.   It’s been a very, very busy 2 months but I’m BACK!

In order to celebrate me going personally bananas I thought it would be appropriate to dedicate this week to “going bananas.”  I made both banana muffins and banana bread.  After eating several bananas as fruit, too, I’m SICK of bananas!  I’d like things to just settle down for awhile and not be so bananas, personally, too.

Without further ado, here are some banana food photos.  As always both recipes will be listed under the “Read more” link.  (Note: I didn’t get a lighting setup photo – sorry!)  The muffins are adapted from Joy of Baking.  The bread recipe I have is older than I am – not sure the original source.

Continue reading…

Perfect Egg Muffin Breakfast Sandwich

Posted By mattantonino / July, 12, 2010 / 0 comments

Ok, so this isn’t a “recipe” as much as a couple short techniques.  I love LOVE egg muffins.  A few issues always plagued me until recently.  Those issues?  First, I hate breaking the yolk and having  it drip through my hands.  Second, a typical English muffin is a little boring. Third, I’d prefer to eat egg muffins more often but only if they’re healthy enough.  Finally, bringing it all together in a perfect way never happens.

Armed with some new culinary knowledge I set out to find the way to make a “perfect” egg muffin.

First, I decided the perfect egg muffin would be one that stands tall and proud – not a little egg overrun by bread and doughy taste.  I also decided to get as much egg inside the muffin border as possible.  It’s not that tasty to eat just egg whites poking out from the edges.  Fun? Maybe.  But not so tasty.  To get these two requirements together, I bought a round, tall plastic container.  The base is flat and round and goes up in a very straight line – it will create the perfect shape and size egg.

Second (and third), I decided to make my egg muffins healthier by going from two muffins and two eggs to one muffin, two egg whites and one egg yolk.  Spray the container lightly with nonstick spray, blend the egg whites and yolk into your bowl and don’t mix the egg entirely.  You don’t want a perfectly yellow mix.  Some whites, some yolk creates a streaky look that doesn’t look as homogenous and fake-egg.  This step also solves the “not drippy” problem.

The final issue was the “boring English muffin issue.”  I bought some honey wheat English muffins instead of the plain regular ones and wiped just a VERY little warm plain butter on them, sprinkled just a touch of pepper and toasted them.  These muffins are about three times as good as pulling a plain muffin from your box and toasting it up.

Finally, I put these together by toasting the muffin, adding a slice of lowfat american cheese to the bottom muffin, adding the cooked egg (microwave for 1 minute) on the cheese and finish with the muffin top.  Microwave the entire thing for another 10 seconds.

This is the most delicious, amazing egg muffin you will ever imagine!  When I’m feeling slightly less healthy I’d add 1 slice of turkey bacon microwaved for 1 minute sliced and criss-crossed on top of the egg. Warm, tasty, and full of protein for energy – this sandwich truly is the PERFECT egg muffin.

Healthy Yogurt Banana Split

Posted By mattantonino / March, 21, 2010 / 0 comments

This morning our kids woke up to a banana split with hot fudge for breakfast. Needless to say, they are THRILLED we are doing food photography now. It was chocolatey, fruity and very tasty.

You’ll find that most of what we are doing now is healthy so even though these look like 500 calorie treats they are just 195! This recipe is taken pretty much straight from the Biggest Loser Family Cookbook – which I highly recommend!

Trivia: A cluster of bananas is called a hand and consists of 10 to 20 bananas, which are known as fingers.

Read more to view the recipe after the jump!