Category Archives: Clifton Park

Caputo’s Pizza…A Pleasant Surprise

So the fam and I headed over to Caputo’s Pizza in Clifton Park last night for a quick slice of pizza.  In my humble, snobby Long Islander opinion, they have the best NY style pizza that I’ve tried in the area.  I quickly scarfed down my first slice, J was on his second, and our daughter was happily munching her slice.  I noticed on the board that they have home made soups and I’m a sucker for Pasta Fagioli soup, so I ordered a bowl.  Man, am I glad I did because it was freaking delicious.  It was hearty, the broth was rich and delicious, and the best part were the pieces of proscuitto floating in the soup.  It was hands down, one of the best bowls of pasta fagioli I’ve ever had.  It was just chock full of goodness. Based on that soup, we’re definitely going to go back and try some actual dinner items and hopefully they will measure up.

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Food Flinging

So we’re trying to teach Future Foodie NOT to throw food on the floor and to pick up after herself.  And the other night she was sitting on my lap eating cauliflower.  She decided she didn’t want to eat anymore so she tossed them onto the floor. I picked her up and placed her on the floor and told her that “we don’t throw food in the house and you need to pick up your food.”

Immediately, the tantrum starts. Loud wailing, tears, throwing herself onto my lap, yelling “Mama, Mama”.  I mean, the drama of it all.   I tell her, amidst all the noise, that she wouldn’t be picked up until she picked up the food she threw on the floor.  So she walks over to the cauliflower, crouches down right next to the food, and then, from the sheer horribleness of having to pick up the food, starts sobbing again.  I mean, it was like I was making her pick up poisonous snakes.  FINALLY, she picks up each piece of cauliflower, crying the whole time.

That is my dear little drama queen.  But hey on the bright side, she was eating cauliflower!

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A scathing review…

Check out this review of Peddlers Bar and Bistro in Clifton Park in the Timesunion.

She is rough on them and I love it! Reviews like that are not the norm.  Cheryl is definitely refreshing.  She is right on as well, since I have only heard negative reviews of the food at Peddlers.  I have not eaten there but if it’s anything like J.J. Maxie’s on Wolf Road, then the food is definitely sub par.

Yay – a real food critic!

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Friday Addiction: Stovetop Popcorn

I never knew popcorn could be so sinfully delicious until my husband made me some popcorn on the stove.  His popcorn now makes me scoff at microwave popcorn (which by the way, can cause cancer).  This stovetop popcorn has a buttery taste without actually using any butter.  Do I have your attention now? Good, now get moving and make some popcorn!

Ingredients

1/3 cup Canola oil

3/4 – 1 cup popcorn kernels (we use white, organic popcorn because we’re stinkin’ snobs)

Salt

Instructions

Place the canola oil in a big metal bowl or big soup pot.  Heat the oil on medium high heat.


When the oil gets hot, almost smoking, add the kernels in.  Shake the bowl around to coat all the kernels.

Put a cover on the bowl.  Move the pan over the heat source back and forth to distribute the heat. It is essential that you lift the cover a little every now and then to let steam out. But be careful, when popping starts in earnest, make sure that kernels aren’t flying all over your kitchen.

As popping slows down considerably, pull the bowl off the heat.  Put the popcorn into a bowl, toss with salt (to taste).  Toss from bowl to bowl, adding salt until salty enough.

Note: to make it even more delicious, get some Cabot shakable cheddar cheese and shake that shit all over the popcorn.  Get ready to get into a fist fight with your family over that popcorn; it’s that good.

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Another Giant Vegetable From Our Garden…

The onion on the left is from our garden.  Positively huge isn’t it?

Actually we have been happily munching on the incredibly flavorful heirloom tomatoes and kale this week from our garden.

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The best Capital Region pizza so far…

We are planning to conduct a pizza death match but we did find a contender for the best pizza we’ve had up here so far. We got a pie from Caputo’s Pizzeria in Clifton Park.

J had been talking about this pizza for a couple weeks now, some of his co-workers were talking it up.  As foodies, we take all food seriously, but pizza has a particular soft spot for us, especially me since I’m from Long Island (land of awesome pizzas).  For the past 11 years that I have lived in the Capital Region, I have tried a lot of different pizzas and have been let down repeatedly.  My husband, having had the experience of both LI and NYC pizza also understands my despair at the desolate landscape of pizza in the Capital Region.

Forgive me for my little tangent, but what is up with the pizza up here? The crust is usually tasteless, too thick, or cardboard like.  The cheese has no flavor and there’s always way too much of it.  Then the sauce, or the lack of it, has no tang, no depth.  Uggh.  I mean, if I need pizza, J will usually make it himself (always delicious) or we make do with Inferno’s Pizza, which is probably one of the better Upstate type pizzas there are.

Deep breath.  Okay I’ve calmed down from my little diatribe about pizza.  On to Caputo’s.  The pizza was good, surprisingly good.  The cheese had that nice salty thing that a lot of LI/NYC pizzas have.  It needed more sauce, but the sauce that was on it was tasty.  I would prefer a little bit more tang to it.  The crust is really where Caputo’s shines.  It’s thin and crispy and tastes really good. I have to say I was impressed.  It will work for my pizza fix when I need it.  However Long Island/NYC pizza still reigns supreme. nothing beats a slice from Emilio’s in Commack or Little Vincent’s in Lake Ronkonkoma.    Then there’s the pizza at Lombardi’s in NYC, OMG.

We also ordered the garlic knots.  They need some work, they weren’t buttery enough and they needed more garlic.  But the dipping sauce was really good – it was a marinara but full of garlic slices, it’s delicious.

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Friday Addiction: Soft Pretzels

Soft pretzels can be very good or very bad (aka soggy, no flavor). When they are good, they are crisp on the outside, soft in the middle, with a small amount of salt.  These pretzels exist at the Philly Pretzel Factory
in Clifton Park.

The pretzels are extremely affordable, you can buy a whole bag of the pretzels, eat all of them or save some for later.  We usually do that and stash them in the freezer.  They heat up wonderfully in the toaster oven.

I just ate one, here it is prior to entering my belly:

Yum.

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Home Cooking, Chinese Style

I had a friend from India who I used to work with and one day, she asked me how Chinese people stay so slim. I said I didn’t know.  She said she was surprised at how Chinese people managed to stay thin when all we ate was fried food like Sweet and Sour Chicken, and Egg Rolls.  I laughed and told her that was the American version of Chinese food and that I didn’t know any Chinese people who cook that type of food at home much less eat it at a restaurant.

So in recognition of real Chinese food, I thought I would share a favorite Chinese recipe of mine that I got from my mom. When you want a freakishly good Chinese meal, you go to my mom.  She can put a bunch of seemingly disparate ingredients together and 95% of the time end up with a fantastic meal.

Without further adieu, I give you Shanghai style Chinese Rice Cakes.

Ingredients:

1 bag of Chinese Rice Cakes (if frozen, empty bag into a big bowl and thaw in water)

1 large head of Chinese Mustard Greens (buy at the Asian Market)

1/4 bag of Baby Bok Choy

1/2 cup Fresh bamboo

1 – 2 shiitake Mushrooms

Some type of meat: chicken, beef, or pork – 1/2 lb

2 cloves Garlic

1/2 Tablespoon Ginger

Soy Sauce

Chinese Rice Wine

Kosher Salt

Canola Oil

Sriracha Hot Sauce (Bright red sauce with a green cap)

Cooking Instructions:

Prepare the mustard greens 2 days in advance by first cleaning them thoroughly. Spread open a leaf, layer it on the bottom of a large container, sprinkle liberal amounts of kosher salt on the mustard green. Repeat the process until no leaves are left.  This step tenderizes and breaks down the mustard greens.  Cover and place in refrigerator at least 2 days in advance.

Mince both the garlic and ginger and set aside. Slice the meat into 1/4 strips.  Marinate meat with all of the ginger and garlic, add a 1 tablespoon of rice wine and 3 tablespoons of soy sauce.  You can do this the night before.

Squeeze the mustard greens of any liquid (handful at a time).  Chop the greens into small pieces.  Set aside.

Clean bok choy, rough cut and include white stems.  Set aside.

Julienne fresh bamboo. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil in the wok/saute pan over high heat.  Add meat, cook for 3 – 4 minutes max. Stir constantly.  Transfer meat to a separate bowl.

Return wok/pan to heat, lower heat to medium high heat.  Add mustard greens.  Stir frequently, cook for approximately 10 minutes or until greens are cooked.  Add 1/4 cup of water during the cooking process as necessary.  You don’t want leaves to dry out.  After 10 minutes (regardless if leaves are cooked or not) add bamboo and shiitakes. Stir together.  Cook for an additional 5 minutes.  Add bok choy.  Keep stirring, cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Add meat back in and place rice cakes on top (if thawing, make sure to strain all the water out from the rice cakes).  Cover the wok/pan.

This will steam the rice cakes and soften them.  Check the consistency of the rice cakes after 5 minutes.  Should be soft and chewy.  Cook longer if needed.  Once cooked, mix all ingredients together in pan.  Add soy sauce to taste.

Serve.

For the brave ones out there, add Sriracha (makes everything taste 100x better).  Promise.

Also – the key to Chinese cooking, at least with this dish, is that you can be flexible with the ingredients.  Add more/less depending on what you like.

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GIANT vegetables from our garden!

Well giant would be an appropriate description if it was opposite day.

In reality, they look like this:

You have to admit, that tiny carrot and mini beet are pretty cute.  I mean obviously, if we had to sustain ourselves on these kind of vegetables, we would be eating bugs pretty quickly.  J, my husband is the gardener, the green thumb.  Plants practically sprout from his fingertips; he just has it.  Me, on the other, I have the thumb of death.  I always have great intentions with my plants, but we just don’t understand each other.  I think it’s thirsty, and it’s not. I think it looks fine, and it’s dying for a drink.  You see?  So I stay away from our pretty garden except to weed because that is one thing the thumb of death is good at. Killing plants.

I leave you with a quote from Jim Gaffigan, a damn funny man, and also a link to our favorite garlic bread recipe.

Jim Gaffigan on food: We’re never satisfied when it comes to food. “You know what’d be good on this burger? A ham sandwich. Instead of a bun, let’s use two donuts. That way we can have it for breakfast. Look out McGriddle. Here comes the donut-ham-hamburger!”

Garlic Bread Recipe from a great recipe blog, 101 Cookbooks.


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I’m a weenie…

When I’m not feeling well.  I just want to be coddled and taken care of.  Reality is, my toddler doesn’t care if I’m sick or not, she wants to read The Foot Book for the 18th time that hour and I’m the only one for the job!

I do have a process I follow when I’m sick:  two vitamin c tablets a day, as much sleep as I can get (which is really not much) and hot, steaming comfort tea.

The ingredients to my comfort tea are:

3 -4 thin slices of ginger root

1 heaping spoon of Buckwheat honey (has a VERY strong smell, like a barnyard as J says, but do not be deterred as it is very good for you, especially if you have a cough)

1 heaping spoon of regular honey (we buy the local honey at the Honest Weight Food Co – Op, which by the way we are completely in love with)

1/4 lemon slice

Hot water

A big mug

Just combine all the ingredients and increase/decrease the amounts to your liking.

Voila! I have a delicious, comforting, hot cup of tea that immediately soothes me and makes me feel like tomorrow I just might feel better.

Another thing that made me feel better today…news that the Olive Garden is coming to Clifton Park!  I read it on one of my favorite food blogs, Table Hopping on the Timesunion website.  Steve’s the food dude and he keeps my husband and I up to date on what’s going on around here.

About the Olive Garden, I love their salads, but feel so-so about the rest of their food. But my dear husband, is a bit of food snob and it’s like pulling teeth for him to even step into an Olive Garden with me. However, I will win that fight once Olive Garden makes it way up here.  He knows it, I know it, and now you know it.

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