Posted in comfort food, home cooking, Legacy Recipes, pizza, Quick Dinners

Grandma’s Layered Pizza

As a kid who grew up in the 90’s, I was lucky enough that we lived with my grandparents until I was eight. I was too young to know that my grandmother was a neurotic old school Italian and only that she filled me up on toast covered in cinnamon and sugar, Ocean Spray cranberry juice, pastine and egg, and pizza. Really, she spoiled me. Now that I’m an adult, I get in trouble for wearing v-neck t-shirts and no food.

I don’t often make pizza at home because there are so many great pizza places in RI and around my hometown. In an effort to eat a little healthier, though, and still allow myself the vice of eating pizza, I’ve been trying to make more homemade and if I’m going to make it, I just have to make it like hers. She always cut the pepperoni herself in thick slices and got the sauce all the way to the edges, to give a little sweetness to the crust. I love this pizza. It’s my favorite pizza. If you’re a pizza lover and a home cook, give it a try one of these Sunday afternoons or on a cold, dark snowy night.


½ c. tomato sauce

6 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese

6 oz. shredded Italian blend cheese

1 stick of pepperoni

1 6 oz. pizza dough (No, I don’t make my own pizza dough. Sorry.)

½ c. tomato sauce

6 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese

6 oz. shredded Italian blend cheese

1 stick of pepperoni

1 9 oz. pizza dough (No, I don’t make my own pizza dough. Sorry.)


  1. Preheat oven to 400. Let the dough rise on the counter and come to room temperature. (This is very important as it will not stretch for you when it’s cold.)
  2. Very lightly grease a sheet pan with canola oil (olive oil is too strong for this). This will help you to stretch the dough into the pan and prevent sticking. I use the largest pan I got in the set shown here.
  3. Bake stretched dough on its own for 5-8 minutes, or until it begins to harden. Air bubbles may develop, poke them with a fork and press the air out of them.
  4. Next, spread the sauce around the dough. Using a rubber brush, cover the pizza with sauce all the way to the edges. Make sure you get a good amount on the edges to give the crust a lot of flavor.
  5. Put the pizza back in for 2-3 minutes and let the sauce bake a little bit onto the dough.
  6. Next, begin layering. First a layer of shredded mozzarella, then a layer of pepperoni and then a layer of the Italian blend cheese. Repeat until the surface of the pizza is covered.
  7. Bake until cheese is melty and begins to brown slightly 8-10 minutes. If you like your pizza more on the well done side, feel free to leave it in until baked to your desired doneness.
Posted in Quick Dinners, Recipes

4 Ways to Make Reduced Guilt “Pasta”

If you had told me two years ago that I’d be going to the gym or exercising (mostly alone, mind you) 2-3 days a week and preferring zucchini to pasta–I’d’ve told you that you were insane. Or asked where your time machine was for proof.

When my mom cut gluten out of her diet, I started trying more ways to enjoy things that are usually full of carbs and sugar but with better nutritional benefit. So far, I’ve made pizza boats out of zucchini (YUM!), started eating celeriac (also YUM!), discovered delicious new snacks (kale chips!), become obsessed with brussel sprouts and have made zucchini “noodles” or “zoodles” almost once a week for the last few months. Since this was already routine, when I moved out this summer, I took the healthy, low-carb diet along with me.

And this Italian girl still loves her pasta with a side of garlic bread–just much, much less often. Spiralizing zucchini has helped me to take a big step away from a diet high in processed foods. Pasta was always a go-to quick meal for me, and it still kind of is, but I usually sub out zucchini. Plus, Mike isn’t totally opposed and loves the bolognese just as much as I do.

Serves 2

3 “good-sized” zucchinis, spiralized
Hint: All you’ll need to do is trim the ends off with a sharp knife. Just give the zucchini a good rinse, no need to peel.

4 TBSP olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 fresh basil leaves, cut into strips (optional)
Salt & pepper

  1. Over medium heat, sautee the garlic in the oil until it begins to bubble, be sure it doesn’t brown. Let the garlic soften and the flavor meld into the oil. This should only take about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the zoodles and season with salt and pepper to taste. Let the noodles marry into the sauce, tossing them to ensure a good coating.
  3. Cook about 4-6 minutes or until only slightly tender. If you cook the zucchini for too long, it will become mushy and the sauce will be soupy.
  4. Finish the last minute or so with the freshly cut basil leaves. I usually cut them into strips or tear up by hand.
  5. Serve with grated cheese and/or red pepper flakes for toppings. Enjoy!

2 hot Italian pork sausages, casings removed
2 cups tomato sauce
1 cup heavy whipping cream
¼ cup ricotta cheese

  1. Over medium-high heat, cook the sausage, breaking it up into smaller bits. (There is always the option to make this with ground pork rather than sausage.)
  2. Once mostly cooked through, season the meat lightly with salt and pepper, add the tomato sauce and heavy whipping cream.
  3. Let simmer 2-3 minutes or until sauce begins to bubble slightly.
  4. Once the sauce bubbles and thickens a bit, lower the heat to medium and add the zoodles and ricotta.
  5. Stir to combine, then let simmer for 3-4 minutes. The ricotta should completely “melt” into the sauce and help to thicken it a bit more.
  6. Remove from the heat and serve!

1 ½ c. tomato sauce
For a how-to on the Food Snob’s Tomato Sauce, CLICK HERE. Then, follow the remaining steps.

  1. Bring about 1 ½ cups of tomato sauce to medium heat (don’t let it bubble much, you don’t want it to burn).
  2. Add the zoodles and let “stew” for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you notice the sauce beginning to become watery and the zucchini breaking down too much, remove from heat early.
  3. Once the zucchini has softened slightly, remove from heat. Serve!

I know–this one might seem a little weird, but at the suggestion of a friend I gave it a try and it is so, so good.
¼ c. heavy whipping cream
¼ c. shredded Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese (plus more for topping)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 ½ Tbsp. olive oil
1 ½ Tbsp. butter
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground black pepper (plus more for topping)
¼ c. chopped fresh Italian parsley (optional)

  1. Over medium-low heat, melt the butter in a large saucepan. Once melted, add heavy cream and raise heat to medium heat. The cream will start to bubble and thicken.
  2. Stir often to keep cream from sticking and reduce heat if it begins to look like it’s ‘boiling’.
  3. Add the cheese and stir vigorously to melt the cheese into the sauce.
  4. Add the zoodles immediately after the cheese has melted. Toss to coat using a spaghetti spoon and allow the zoodles to cook in the sauce for 4-5 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat before the zucchini becomes too soft.
  6. Serve topped with parsley (optional), grated cheese and fresh cracked black pepper. Yum!

Until next time,

♥️ Food Snob

Posted in Quick Dinners, Recipes

The Yummiest Brussels Sprouts

I am here today to tell you about an unsung hero. A vegetable that has gotten a bad rep my entire life that deserves to be treated better. One that is tastier than most when properly prepared. I’m talking about the brussels sprout.

When I see these beauties at the market on Saturday or Sunday morning, I’m going in for the kill. And if they’re on sale, I’m buying extra. Mike and I tend to fight over the leftovers and sometimes take turns bringing them for lunch the following day if there’s only a few. He even brags about this recipe to complete strangers.

I’m not here today to brag about this recipe–even though it’s delectable. I am here to help you love brussels sprouts and to help you easily welcome a new delicious side into your routine meals if you aren’t already familiar with them. If you are familiar and you make them some other way and they’re delicious, I believe you. But I will still insist that you try them this way.

And so without further ado, this post is short and sweet, and so is the recipe.


1 bunch brussel sprouts (trimmed, halved if they are larger than cherries or grapes)
5 garlic cloves, smashed with the skin still on
2 heaping tbsp. bacon fat
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. honey
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground black pepper

Methodology & Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and place a rack in the middle. Whisk together garlic, olive oil, honey, red pepper flakes, salt & pepper. Pour brussels sprouts into a large baking dish and pour mixture over the top. Toss to coat. Top with a tablespoon of bacon fat on each side of dish. (If you have a cast iron pan, start these on the stove over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes and then move to the oven.)
  2. Bake, tossing occasionally, for 40-45 minutes or until brussel sprouts are tender and some of the leaves have caramelized with the honey and started to char. If some of the leaves or edges are a little dark brown or black, this is a good thing! You have not burned the dish. You have nailed it.
  3. Serve with anything from pork to baked cod as a side dish. (Look for recipes for both entree options in the near future.)

Until next time,
♥️ Food Snob

Posted in Chicken, Quick Dinners, Recipes

Post-Workout Pasta

I feel like alfredo always gets a bad rap because it can be super fatty—like when you order it at a chain restaurant and it is probably made mostly of some kind of fake dairy product or weird by-product fat that did not come from an animal. Animal fat is not bad for you—in moderation. Especially those animal fats which melt at a high temperature, like duck fat. Which is how I typically justify duck fat fries, though I don’t eat them often enough where I should have to justify them, but still.

I like to make pasta alfredo from scratch because it’s just so easy. And please keep in mind that this recipe is not a “traditional” pasta alfredo. It does not call for any eggs and literally will take less time to cook than the pasta will, so pay attention and try not to be too impatient (like me). Since I don’t like to have any meals that exclude vegetables, I almost always add broccoli to my alfredo and most times I add chicken, which is optional here.

The other night, after a nice strength-building workout at the gym, I whipped this together for Mike and I in enough time that I almost didn’t realize I was famished from my workout. It is super important to me that I’m able to put something together quickly after I exercise—even though I always snack beforehand—because I have no patience when it comes to my hunger. And yes, I get hangry and it’s not pretty.

This recipe does not need much introduction or explanation, so I will let it speak for itself. Here she is:

Pasta with Homemade Alfredo Sauce and Broccoli

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 10-15 minutes

Total time: 20 minutes

Servings: 2


½ lb. pasta of choice, (penne and gemelli are my personal favorites)

¼ cup heavy whipping cream (they sell it in this size at the market)

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese (or Romano, or cheddar, or whatever flavor you are feeling)

3-4 crowns of broccoli, chopped into florets

1 clove garlic, minced

1 ½ Tbsp. olive oil

1 ½ Tbsp. butter

Salt & pepper to taste

Methodology & Instructions:

For broccoli:

  1. Steam in a small sauce pot, with the olive oil, garlic and salt & pepper, over medium heat.
  2. Depending on how mushy you like your broccoli, this should only take 5-8 minutes. Avoid raising the heat so that the garlic cooks but doesn’t burn.

For pasta:

  1. Start your water boiling for your pasta. If you’re unsure of how much water, etc., read the instructions on the pasta box. 🙂 Once the water is boiling and the pasta is in the pot, move to step 2.
  2. Over medium-low heat, melt butter in a large saucepan.
  3. Once it’s nice and melty, add the heavy cream and increase to medium heat. The cream will eventually begin bubbling and thickening. This is good. Stir often to avoid sticking and lower the heat if it begins thickening too quickly.
  4. Once the pasta is fairly al dente (not fully cooked by any manner), strain and add to alfredo sauce. Keep the heat on the pan, letting the pasta cook in the sauce and marry a little bit. (That’s what my mom likes to call it.)
  5. Add the cheese after 3-4 minutes, but be careful because you need to serve almost immediately. Make sure the pasta is cooked to your desired chewiness before adding the cheese.
  6. Lastly, toss the broccoli in with the pasta and toss to coat. The garlic will add a little extra flavor to the alfredo, too.
  7. Kill the heat, plate this deliciousness and enjoy.

Until next time,

Food Snob

Posted in Breakfast, Food & Travel

A RIFS Rant – Breakfast Edition 🍳🍩☕️

As a frequent weekender, I have always been interested in the offerings and definitions of “continental breakfast”. When I was a kid and we went on vacation or away for a weekend, I remember inspecting the breakfast options available from room service in each hotel. Many of them were long, thin slips of paper with a choice of Continental Breakfast included with your stay or an alternative, and what I would refer to as “real breakfast”, which could be ordered for an additional surcharge. I have always understood continental breakfast to be cereal, assorted baked goods, juice, coffee, fresh fruit and maybe oatmeal. In my experience, complimentary continental breakfast has never included prepared hot items like eggs, bacon, etc.

In my recent travels, however, I have discovered some absolutely awesome incarnations of continental breakfast and some awful, laughable versions. And before I begin to break down the specific experiences I have had, let me first clear the air with one obvious fact: the breakfast buffet is the worst invention of American food culture, ever.


The Breakfast Buffet: America’s Food Failure

Throughout my life, I have been blessed with the opportunity of travel. I have visited the Caribbean on multiple occasions, spent 6 weeks in London studying abroad, adventured all over New England and have spent multiple vacations in Disneyland and Disneyworld plus long weekends in New York City and Philadelphia, etc. I am no stranger to travel and certainly no stranger to hotels or to complimentary breakfast. As you have likely understood at this point, but I will reiterate, I am a food snob.

Continental breakfast and/or ‘the breakfast buffet’ (this beast is an idea, people, it’s an institution that should never have been created) are not things that typically fit into my dining profile.

At a very young age as far as food consciousness goes I was aware of the breakfast buffet and its awfulness. (I grew up with a mother who is 100% Italian and a father who holds an Associate’s degree in Culinary Arts and owns his own restaurant, so I never had a chance.) I have only out of necessity ever eaten scrambled eggs out of a hotel pan or chaffing dish and am baffled by any restaurant that prides itself on brunch when they are serving eggs sitting in 2 inches of what appears to be water, but could just be the runoff of egg by-product after it has been cooked. Why would anyone in their right mind want to eat wet eggs? I don’t mean loose, luxurious, fine-dining-restaurant-that-serves-brunch eggs, I mean like, water wet. No, thank you.

The most memorable breakfast buffet disaster experience for me was at age 13, the summer my family vacationed on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship bound for the Bahamas. On one of the first mornings aboard the ship, my brother accidentally ate slices of bread placed underneath the bacon in the bottom of the chaffing dish, meant to soak up the grease. How amazing! he had thought, that this toast would be right next to the bacon. How convenient! And it was delicious, too, in his opinion. My parents were grossed out, but, laughed and let him finish his breakfast before preventing him from continuing this grease-soaked obsession for the remainder of the trip. I was disgusted. Why, why, why does there need to be bread below the bacon strips to soak up the grease? How is this bacon being cooked, where does it come from, why is it so greasy? I understand making breakfast for all the guests aboard a cruise ship is a little ambitious, but every other meal we had was incredible, so why did they serve a mediocre breakfast buffet in the mornings?

Need I continue with the reasons why breakfast buffets are the worst idea ever? Have you come over to the dark side yet or may I add a few more reasons for my extreme hatred? Bacon is never crispy enough, sausage links become rubbery, eggs are always scrambled and always weirdly wet yet also cooked to death, you have to make your own toast and pray the rest of your food isn’t cold by the time you sit, and then you have to balance all of the things you’ve chosen—sometimes this includes your silverware and beverage—as you walk over to sit down and try to enjoy it.

Bottom line: there is no reason to shortcut breakfast by having a buffet.


My Continental Breakfast: A Personal History

There is a resort in Yarmouth, Massachusetts on Cape Cod that has been a favorite spot of mine and Mike’s for quite a few years now. It’s a family-oriented, year-round hotel and resort called the Bayside. We discovered it via Groupon when one year, for Valentine’s Day, I stumbled across a deal for a $99 one-night stay in a king-sized jacuzzi suite for two. The hotel isn’t state-of-the-art or absolutely beautiful, but it’s clean and has been renovated recently enough, the staff is welcoming and the rooms are very cozy. We enjoyed our stay, especially in February when there was no one vacationing on the Cape, and were delighted by the complimentary breakfast offerings the morning after.

The typical continental breakfast spread at Bayside is accompanied by a make-your-own-waffles station. There are cups of freshly mixed waffle batter, syrup, butter, whipped cream, you name it. Although we prefer to breakfast outside of the hotel because of my aversion to continental breakfast, we always check out the breakfast room first, and this one was above average.

On other occasions, I have not had the same experience. I spent a weekend in New York City for my cousin’s bachelorette party this past November and stayed at a modern, boutique hotel near Times Square. After a full day and night of drinking Vueve and prosecco on Friday, I was in need of something to put in my stomach before our aerial yoga class. Those of us who were functioning enough to attempt breakfast were incredibly disappointed by the spread we found in the lobby (they didn’t even have a breakfast room or cafe-like area).

Instead of serving a continental breakfast that fit its boutique-style accommodations, the hotel was serving pre-packaged breakfast pastries from the likes of Hostess and Honeybun alongside bruised, over-ripe fruit and boxed cereal. There was also a plastic-doored server that contained mini bagels and croissants, but no tongs were provided for serving and I found it very easy to pass on the whole thing. Not only was the setup disappointing, the offerings were subpar for continental breakfast and the coffee was gross. This was New York City, it’s a hit or miss when it comes to these types of things. This was a huge miss. On Sunday morning, I opted to take a walk up the street to a café serving made-to-order breakfast sandwiches, bagels, croissants, etc. in a much more appetizing atmosphere. It was a huge step above the ‘complimentary’ breakfast being served at the hotel.

On another occasion, earlier this year, Mike and I stayed at another hotel in New York City with friends of ours the night before Mike and our friend Eric left for Japan. In the morning, we took a cab to JFK for their 7:00am flight and then Eric’s fiancée and I hit up the hotel breakfast room. And we were blown away.

I am not suggesting that the breakfast was to-die-for, however I was fairly surprised by the options and by the amount of food available at no additional cost. We helped ourselves to baked goods, coffee, fruit, parts of a breakfast buffet (gag) and a make-your-own-waffles station. By the time we reconvened and chose a table to sit down at, we could hardly balance all of our plates because it was early in the morning and we had been out the night before drinking fishbowls at Brother Jimmy’s BBQ. Once I started eating I was, of course, slightly unsatisfied because the quality of the food was not great, but the options were endless and generous, which is more than I can say about other complimentary breakfasts.


End rant.

I have to admit, it feels nice to have a place to share my displeasure in discovering breakfast buffets. I, of course, have more examples – some of which are not served at hotels which is just inexcusable. Any restaurant claiming brunch service should never be serving a buffet. I don’t care if it’s cheap, all-you-can-eat and includes a mimosa. There is no excuse. If you want to serve brunch or breakfast, do it right, god damn it.

I once made a poor decision in giving in to my friends not wanting to spend money on breakfast, after an overnight stay at Foxwoods. The nice brunch in Fox Tower—or whatever it’s now called—was sort of expensive, though I don’t remember the price per person. Something I didn’t know: Foxwoods offers a ‘free’ breakfast buffet in the older part of the casino. And it’s gross. I’m talking below the level of hotel breakfast buffet, just downright unappetizing. Even when hungover. That is pretty bad.

Perhaps sometime in the near future I will share more positive breakfast and brunch experiences to let you know where you should go or stay if you’re looking for real food that is not sitting atop sternos and getting drier by the second.


Until next time,

❤️ Food Snob

Posted in Quick Dinners, Recipes, winter

Wok This Way 🍚

So, a few weeks before Chridtmas was the last time I’ve eaten Chinese food. Possibly ever. On this occasion, I had orange chicken over white rice, a favorite of mine, an egg roll and some beef teriyaki skewers. The weird thing was, within an hour I was sort of nauseous. Not like, I’m gonna be sick nauseous, it was more just this feeling of disgust with eating battered, fried chicken parts drenched in that sticky-sweet-and-spicy sauce. I couldn’t even think about it without my stomach turning over. Needless to say, I was not pleased and haven’t ordered Chinese since. (Not that I eat it often in the first place.) It still kinda feels like I had this big fight with Chinese takeout and we broke up. And I have a feeling I won’t be calling anytime soon.

A few months ago, however, I found a recipe for fried rice in Bon Appetit. It was a recipe that was a little out of my league and was provided by the magazine’s editor, Adam Rapaport. I check his note in every issue and, while this one was not what I was looking for, it was a challenge. It inspired me. I had my mind set. I would find a way to create delicious fried rice somewhere between soy-soaked Japanese hibachi and dry Chinese takeout. My mission had been decided and it didn’t take long to figure out, which was an awesome personal victory. The best part is, you can alter this to be low-sodium or even eliminate the soy sauce if you are super salt concerned.

Please note, before reading, that the method/instructions for this recipe are slightly advanced, but detailed. Keep in mind that the fried rice process happens rather fast and that it’s OK if it takes a few tries to really nail it. With this particular recipe, I have included some tips and struggles I experienced throughout the process.
RIFS Homemade Fried Rice

Sizzling away in the cast iron skillet.

2 tbsp. grapeseed oil

1 c. cooked jasmine rice

1/4 c. broccoli florets

1/4 c. celery and carrots, peeled and chopped

1/4 c. sweet onion, diced

1/4 c. soy sauce

2 large eggs

1 tsp. raw sugar

2 tbsp. chicken broth
Methodology & Instructions:

1. Heat grapeseed oil in a cast iron pan over high heat. (Be very careful using a cast iron pan at this heat.)

2. Cook broccoli, carrots and celery, tossing vigorously, about 1-2 minutes. *If you like to keep frozen broccoli on hand, like I do, do make life easier, DO NOT put frozen broccoli directly into the pan. You will get spattered with hot oil. Do not make the rookie mistake I made.*

3. Add egg and stir/scramble vigorously until nearly fully cooked, about 30 seconds – 1 minute.

4. Add rice. Stir into mixture and then pat down into pan for 30-45 seconds at a time to crisp and dry out rice grains without burning. In between, stir together vigorously. Repeat process for 5-6 minutes. If rice doesn’t show signs of browning, continue a bit longer.

5. Add soy sauce. Repeat pressing and stirring process for 1-2 minutes.

6. Add sugar, onion, salt and pepper (about 1/2 tsp. of each). Repeat pressing and stirring process until onion softens and becomes translucent, 1-2 minutes.

7. Pour chicken broth around edges of the pan, press and stir until broth evaporates.

8. Serve. Optional: Top with torn cilantro.

Serves 2 people as a side dish.

Until next time,

❤️ Food Snob

Posted in Breakfast, Recipes

Breakfast While You Sleep 💤🍯🍴

Fitting in a healthy breakfast has been a daily battle for me over the last ten years. I have always gone back and forth between trying to have a savory breakfast and going sweet because it’s faster. Lately, I’ve been hooked on overnight oats and I’m so excited to share my obsession with you.

On some mornings, I will nibble on a couple of hard boiled eggs—yolks removed—and either a few pieces of bacon or a nice, fluffy, carb-y breakfast grain with butter. I don’t have overnight oats every day, but I’ve been much better at breakfasting since adding them into the rotation. They’re easy to make and inexpensive to maintain as a staple.

It is important to note that the key to overnight oats is the ratio. If you like your oats thick, it’s 1 part oats to 1 part liquid. If you like them creamy but not too thick, like me, use 1 to 1.25 and if you like them very thin, 1 to 1.5 and so on. You may have to experiment once or twice to find out.

Perhaps my favorite thing about overnight oats is the different fresh or frozen fruits I can add. I would never add fruit to my oatmeal because I never want warm or hot fruit. With the addition of this delicious breakfast, I am including more and more fruit into my diet. And I don’t have to do a thing in the morning except pack a spoon! How could you go wrong?

So without further ado,
Overnight Oats

Halfway through, productivity is at its highest.


1/2 c. old-fashioned rolled oats

1/4 c. soy milk

1/4 c. cold water + 1/8 c. cold water

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. raw sugar

1/4 tsp. (or, a dash) cinnamon

Add-in possibilities: strawberries, blueberries, bananas, peaches, peanut butter, chia seeds, flax seeds, etc.

Methodology & Execution:

Mix all ingredients, including any desired add-ins, together in a mason jar. Let sit in fridge overnight, at least 8 hours. Grab out of the fridge, pat yourself on the back for making breakfast ahead of time, stir the mixture once more and enjoy!

This is one of those types of things where you may need to adjust the ingredients and/or ratios to your taste. This is a guide, the basics of what I’ve gathered in a few weeks of trial and error. Take back your morning—make breakfast while you sleep!

Until next time,

❤️ Food Snob