Caramel apple streusel cake

Posted By mattantonino / June, 23, 2011 / 2 comments

I’d love to tell you that I made this Warm Caramel Apple Cake and shot that for today’s food.  That’s what I want to do.

It looks awesome.  I can imagine how it tastes and I want to try it.  I will, soon.  Then I’ll post that.  Today is one of those “eh, I’m a photographer, not a cook” days.

So I cheated.

I know … don’t look at me like that!  It doesn’t happen as often anymore!

Ultimately, I’m just a food photographer.  I need to shoot, even when I don’t want my hair all full of flour 3 hours before a meeting with a potential bride to shoot her wedding.  I still need to make, shoot and eat food.

Today’s excellent cheat is a straight-out-of-the-box Duncan Hines Apple Caramel Streusel. Follow instructions. Maybe cut up an apple into bite sized bits and add it.  This recipe is sweet, delicious and moist.  I actually *really* love it and will eat it again.

Yes, I know I used a pan that was too big. Guess I have to do it again.


apple caramel cake

apple caramel cake texture

apple streusel

apple streusel

inside carmel apple streusel

Sunday I’ll be back with something special for the blog and Tuesday I’ll post up my famous tilapia parmesan.  Fish & cheese?  Seriously. Tuesday.


Gooey double chocolate chip cookies

Posted By mattantonino / June, 19, 2011 / 0 comments

Even though I once posted my soft gluten free chocolate chip cookie recipe on StartingtoCook, I don’t often post cookies.  There is a reason for that.  My mom is a certified chocoholic.  She makes cookies.  Not good cookies, not great cookies. She makes fantastic cookies.  So if I want a cookie, I want her to make it. I don’t like to compete with fantastic since I’m a somewhat-new cook (but getting better!)

When I found this double chocolate chip cookie recipe, it seemed simple enough. Hoping and praying, I made it.


Some cookies last in this house. Not long, mind you, but they last.  At least a moment.


Not these.  *scarf*  Double chocolate chip cookies barely last long enough to type the words double chocolate chip cookies!


Photos, recipe … you know how these food blog things go.

cookie batter

spoonful of cookie batter

cookie batter on tray

pile of chocolate chunk cookies on a plate over white

closeup chocolate chunk cookie

one plate of chocolate chunk cookies in a stack with traditional background

batch of double chocolate cookies


  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup cocoa (or slightly more)
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I used chocolate chunks)


  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugars and vanilla.
  2. Beat in egg. Add cocoa and milk.
  3. Combine flour and baking powder; fold into creamed mixture with chocolate chips.
  4. Roll teaspoonfuls of dough into balls; place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10-12 minutes.
  6. Cool for 5 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool.


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



Perfect gluten free chocolate chip cookies

Posted By mattantonino / January, 8, 2011 / 4 comments

One of my best friends found out he (may be) is gluten intolerant and had eaten boring, flavorless foods for a few months.  He mentioned “not having tasted anything good” in awhile so I went in search of the perfect gluten free chocolate chip cookie recipe.

We made this recipe and the cookies were as moist as cookies get.  They stayed moist for days!  If you are in search of the perfect gluten free chocolate chip cookie recipe, this may be it.  It’s definitely the most moist and tasty.

As always, recipe after the jump.

Continue reading…

Wrapping up 2010, planning 2011!

Posted By mattantonino / December, 31, 2010 / 0 comments

At this point in the year (with only a few hours remaining) it seems appropriate to do a wrap-up and plan-ahead post for 2010 and 2011.

First, I want to thank everyone who has helped me on my food blog journey so far.  Thanks to those who have posted recipes I’ve used and copied, thanks to my commenters, and a special thanks to the food blogger I felt I grew to know the most this year, Grace from La Mia Vita Dolce.

I know this year was up and down with my posting schedule.  I started this blog in March with big plans.  I decided to leave Syracuse, a 7 year relationship, my business and my LIFE and start over again at home in Maine.  That move created a TON of turmoil, work, and mostly a lack of time I never recovered from in 2010.

But 2011?  I’m going to be back with a vengeance!  I’ve already made and photographed several meals. I have posts just ready to go and images ready to see the light of day!  I am going to be more consistent in both blogging and shooting.  I am still “starting to cook” or more properly “learning to cook” so expect the unexpected.  I can easily move from red velvet cake to roasted tomatoes and full on meals in a heartbeat.  You never know what I’m shooting next week!  (You know I’ll do a lot of dessert!)

What’s on the menu?  Chocolate frogs, candied apples, garlic knots, pies, a traditional Thanksgiving dinner and more!  Panna cotta? Check!  Cookies made of leftovers?  Check!  What else would you like to see here in 2011?

Thanks for sticking with StartingtoCook!  This year promises to be full of fun and food.  I hope you’ll join me!

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.

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!

Continue reading…