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.



Cinco de Mayo means… tortillas!

Posted By mattantonino / May, 6, 2011 / 5 comments

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

So a week ago I was contacted by TortillaLand with an offer to ship some tortilla to me if I’d make up some nice Cinco de holiday recipes and blog about the TortillaLand product.  That’s the disclosure part.  The rest of this entry is the “yum” part.

Let’s talk about the tortillas.  They are uncooked, fresh tortilla. I can’t imagine how they could be any softer or fresher. They arrived in a cooler and were still chilled when I opened the box. I unwrapped some and immediately wanted to try one. I quickly cooked one up, ate it with egg and it was delicious!  I started thinking about what I wanted to make for Cinco de Mayo.

I assumed (rightfully, it seems) that many people would make dinners, wraps, burritos, etc.  I knew that was out for me. I have wanted to do some homemade tortilla chips for quite awhile but hadn’t found the time (or motivation) so that was definitely on the list.  I did want to throw a bit of Mex spirit in so I knew I’d at least rock out a couple cheese quesadillas as well.

What I didn’t know even 3 days ago was that I would be blogging a *dessert* made with TortillaLand flour tortillas.  But yes, I did dessert.  Why?  Because it’s FREAKING DELICIOUS.  That’s why.

So here are the photos.  First few are just the tortilla cooking (and puffing.  They puffed GREAT!)  The next few are some fried bananas I quickly heated.  Assembly included adding some chocolate chips, warming in the microwave and rolling the finished product into a dessert wrap.  I’ve included a few quesadilla and homemade tortilla chip photos as well, just so you can see the variety of foods I’ve made with my tortillas.

I will accept any sponsor offers people want to send but I’ll always be honest about the product. In this case, that’s SUPER easy.  The TortillaLand tortillas were probably the best I’ve ever eaten (and my step-dad is Mexican so that’s a lot of eating.)  I actually wish I could make them like this. I’d have to own a farm to keep myself in stock on flour, though. They’re that good.  And yes, I’m having another egg wrap tortilla tomorrow for breakfast.

TortillaLand tortilla puffing in the frying pan

cooking a fresh tortilla

fried bananas sizzling in a pan

fried banana on a tortilla waiting for chocolate

TortillaLand fresh tortilla with fried banana and chocolate

fried banana chocolate wrap for Cinco de Mayo

cheese quesadillas for Cinco de Mayo using fresh TortillaLand tortillas

homemade tortilla chips

pile of fresh tortilla chips

A classic pumpkin pie

Posted By mattantonino / April, 17, 2011 / 2 comments

As I mentioned in my last post,  I have been on a pie kick.  Last time was cherry pie, this time it’s a traditional pumpkin pie.  Now, I know most everyone has a pumpkin pie recipe but I strongly recommend the ease of going with the traditional Libby’s pumpkin pie recipe.  Simple, straightforward, easy to make, and very tasty!

pumpkin pie

homemade pumpkin pie

piece of pumpkin pie

She’s my … cherry pie (recipe)!

Posted By mattantonino / April, 13, 2011 / 2 comments

I’m not a big pie eater but that won’t be clear for the next few weeks.  Awhile back I hit a pie kick.  Cherry pie, pumpkin pie, chicken pot pie… you name it, I was making it.  For today’s recipe I’m going to give you a link rather than rewrite it.  This is Beth Campbell’s Cherry Pie, which, according to her, was the 1999 American Pie Council’s National Pie Championship first place winner in the Fruit and Berry Category.  I know why!  This pie filling is amazing.  The crust is good but exactly what you’d expect.  If you have a fantastic crust recipe, use that and fill it with this.

(Yes, the crack on the closeup bothers me. I didn’t want to fix it so you could see what a flaky crust this was. I did fix it on the two wide angles.)

whole cherry pie

whole cherry pie

slice of cherry pie

pie crust

I hope you enjoyed some sweet cherry pie photos!


Easy Beef Stroganoff recipe

Posted By mattantonino / March, 1, 2011 / 0 comments

This is my first post using the new Google Recipe Search plugin so if it comes out looking a little different, sorry about that.  I’ve been promising this easy beef stroganoff recipe for awhile so I figured now was the best time to add it!

It has been so long since I made this beef stroganoff that I’ve MOVED in the meantime and have no idea where the original ideas came from.

easy homemade beef stroganoff

Easy Beef Stroganoff recipe

Summary: A simple, warm stroganoff recipe anyone can make.


  • 1 lb beef tips cut small
  • 2 tsp soy
  • 12 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 2 tsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbs flour
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • salt & pepper to taste


  1. Marinate beef tips in soy for 15 minutes to 1 hour.
  2. Microwave mushrooms for 4 minutes. Drain liquid into a bowl and set the mushrooms aside.
  3. Combine mushroom water, mustard, sugar and pepper. Set that mix aside.
  4. Remove beef tips from bag and pat dry. Season with pepper, heat oil over medium heat and cook steak until browned. Transfer to a plate.
  5. Add mushrooms and onion to a hot skillet. Season with salt and cook until browned. Add tomato paste and flour. Stir for 1 minute.
  6. Stir in wine, beef broth, mustard paste and simmer. Reduce to thicken, about 5-7 minutes.
  7. Stir in meat and all juices.
  8. Remove pan from heat and stir in sour cream.
  9. Serve over egg noodles.

Meal type: dinner

Culinary tradition: German

Name: Easy Beef Stroganoff recipe

Updated on 3/1/11



Incredible Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake

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

Yes, I obviously love dessert. Fried banana torts, pies all the time, perfect gluten free chocolate chip cookies, and checkerboard cookies.  Yeah, just to name a few.  My favorite?  This…by FAR.

No words can do justice to the beauty, taste and incredibleness that is a Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake.  Everyone knows I’m still “starting to cook” so I clearly am not nearly this good.  But the recipe?  That is!

Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake on Erin’s Food Files

All I can tell you is to make this for your next party.  You.will.win.

red velvet cheesecake cake

red velvet cheesecake cake

red velvet cheesecake cake

red velvet cheesecake cake

red velvet cheesecake cake

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!

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Mini shell pasta with creamy smoked bacon sauce

Posted By mattantonino / November, 8, 2010 / 1 comments

I can’t believe I’ve written this many posts on StartingToCook without mentioning even ONE Jamie Oliver recipe.  I absolutely love his cooking and recipes.  I wanted to try a recipe with mini shells, like the ones they use in soup and I ended up finding this creamy bacon sauce pasta.

Once I made this recipe, I was even more of a fan of Jamie Oliver.  This is a very “home cooking” meal.  Make it on a cold night, sit back with a bowl and enjoy! (And it has bacon – call it good!)

mini shell pasta with bacon and pea cream sauce

mini shell pasta with bacon and pea cream sauce

bacon and mini shell pasta shapes with creamy pea sauce

macro close up bacon and mini shell pasta with creamy pea sauce

pea in a mini pasta shell super closeup macro

Vegetarian Zucchini Grinders

Posted By mattantonino / November, 7, 2010 / 0 comments

A few weeks ago I was working on my 101 in 1001 list and eating all vegetarian for a whole week.  21 meals without meat of any kind.  One thing I had to do was figure out how to eat a tasty lunch.  I’m not a huge fan of traditional vegetarian substitutes (as I mentioned in my Chik’n Pot Pie post) but one day I made zucchini grinders.  They are very simple – chop the zucchini, fry it up, add the sauce, top with mozza and broil it to toast/melt.

These don’t look as pretty as I’d like (soft, wet bread) but tasted great!  I will definitely make these again.

My suggestion for eating vegetarian?  How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman.

zucchini grinder ingredients

many cubes of chopped fresh zucchini on a white cutting board

closeup of zucchini grinder sandwiches with melted mozzarella

zucchini grinder sandwiches with melted mozzarella

Harvest on the Harbor 2010, Portland Maine food event

Posted By mattantonino / November, 6, 2010 / 0 comments

Before my trip to Florida I was fortunate to meet the design director of Portland Magazine who suggested I check out the Harvest on the Harbor and try to get in as press (for StC.)  I took his advice and contacted them.  Luckily I was able to get a press pass for the Seafood Splash on Thursday.  This event is a mix of seafood main courses, dessert (gelato yum!) and appetizers.  Even a soup or two.

The Seafood Splash was a phenomenal tasting event.  Some of what we got to taste included: seafood jambalaya by Cabot Creamery (amazing! One of my favorites!), two different lobster soups, an amazing lobster sandwich from the Brass Compass Cafe, sushi, taquitos with grilled Atlantic Salmon (by *far* my favorite!), kelp, and even gelato from Gelato Fiasco.  Steamed muscles, wine, live music … ahhhh!!  Definitely one of my favorite days in all of 2010!

It’s hard to even decide what to post for photos!  I think they came out great and I’m definitely going to post way too many.  Sorry about that!  Thanks to the organizers, Angie Helton for helping me get into the event, Bob from Portland Magazine for giving me the idea to go and all the chefs who prepared these great foods!  I hope to see you all again soon!

Harvest on the Harbor 2010, Portland Maine

lobster sandwiches by Brass Compass Cafe

Seafood Splash in Portland Maine 2010

sushi and seafood from Benkay sushi bar

sushi and seafood from Benkay sushi bar

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