RECIPE: Giada’s rigatoni with creamy mushroom sauce


  • 1 pound rigatoni pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound assorted mushrooms, (such as cremini, shiitake and button), cleaned and sliced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes.

While the pasta is cooking:

slicing up mushrooms

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and garlic to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until soft, about 2 minutes.

garlic and shallots

Add the mushrooms to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Cook until mushrooms are tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 to 7 minutes. Turn the heat to high. Add the wine and cook for 3 minutes until all the liquid evaporates.

after the wine has cooked off

Add the stock and simmer until liquid is slightly reduced. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the mascarpone cheese. Stir until creamy.

nice and creamy

Drain the pasta, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water, and transfer to a serving bowl. Add the mushroom mixture and the Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

we only had bowtie pasta in the house

Toss well to coat pasta, adding the reserved pasta water, if needed, to loosen the pasta. Garnish with the chopped chives. Serve immediately.

so yummy

Curbside burger in Baton Rouge, LA

Curbside Website
Curbside Twitter

the holy grail of burgers

after many attempts to track down this truck on twitter, I finally had success! And the wait was well worth it. The brains of this operation gladly filled the niche of delicious street food made with local and fresh ingredients.

KGB burger

i knew there could only be one burger for me: the KGB Burger. The Burger has home-ground meat, with praline bacon, fried egg, cheddar cheese, lettuce, and tomato. The praline bacon added a crunchy texture and sweetness that is a surprise for a burger of this size. I hate those wimpy flat patties, this was a real hamburger!

Wiemer fries

I got the Wiemer fries which were a combination of parmesan cheese, garlic and white  truffle oil. I could hear the angels sing as I licked this off my fingers. The side order is quite large so I recommend splitting (if you have enough willpower. I don’t…heehee). The white truffles were a dominant flavor.

Curbside (Food Truck) on Urbanspoon

RECIPE: Bobby Flay's Macaroni and Cheese

Bobby Flay’s Macaroni and Cheese


  • Unsalted butter, for the baking dish
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 (1-inch-thick) slice pancetta, cut into small dice
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 5 cups whole milk, or more if needed, hot
  • 4 large egg yolks, lightly whisked
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) grated Asiago cheese, plus more for the top
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) grated Irish white cheddar, plus more for the top
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) grated American cheddar, such as Goot Essa Mountain Valley, plus more for the top
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) grated aged fontina cheese, plus more for the top
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for the top
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni, cooked just under al dente
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves


so many cheeses!

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 10 by 10 by 2-inch baking dish and set it aside.

Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until golden brown on all sides, about 8 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels.

cooking pancetta

Add the garlic to the fat in the pan and cook until light golden brown, 1 minute. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the hot milk, raise the heat to high, and cook, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the eggs until incorporated and let cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the thyme, cayenne, and all the different cheeses until completely melted. Season with salt and pepper. If the mixture appears too thick, add additional warm milk, 1/4 cup at a time.

Put the cooked macaroni in a large bowl, add the cheese sauce, reserved pancetta, and the parsley, and stir until combined. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.

Combine an additional 1/4 cup each of Asiago, cheddars, fontina, and Parmesan in a bowl, and sprinkle evenly over the top. Bake until the dish is heated through and the top is a light golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Commanders in New Orleans

1403 Washington Avenue
New Orleans

the front

From the moment we walked in, I could tell that service was one of the top priorities at Commanders!  A lot of waiters were lined up as we were being led to our table and each of them had a smile and said their own variation of “Welcome.”  The menu was quite extensive and so it took us quite a bit of time to decide what to get and in that time, the ice in our drinks had melted and so a waiter came by and I was ready to ask for one more minute when I saw him replace our water glasses that had been barely touched! now that is great service! When we were ready to order, our server was at another table but the maitre’D noticed that we were ready and so I watched him flag down another server to take our order.


the ambiance is upscale and classy but comfortable. since we happened to be here for happy hour, we ordered 2 appetizers and 1 mixed drink all for $20.

garlic bread

this was the first time Joe and I had been served garlic bread. this stood out to us because most other places served sorudough bread or french bread with butter.


Joe ordered the shrimp and tasso henican with wild Louisiana shrimp stuffed with spicy Cajun ham, crystal hot sauce beurre blanc, pickled okra and five pepper jelly. This was delicious. I was very surprised that the strong tasso flavor didn’t dominate this dish. Joe’s only complaint was that there were only three shrimps.

Commander's salad

I had the Commander’s salad with hearts of romaine, Parmesan, pressed egg, housemade bacon, French bread croutons, grated Gruyere, and creamy black pepper dressing. I really appreciated how light the creamy black pepper dressing was (usually I order dressing on the side but this time I forgot to and so I was very relieved that I could taste the other components of the salad in addition to the dressing).

veal chop

Joe had the veal chop tchoupitoulas which is a creole spiced chop of milk-fed veal over goat cheese stone ground grits with asparagus and classic green peppercorn demi glaze.  The veal was very tender and the spices definitely tasted creole. I loved the goat cheese stone ground grits and stole a mouthful every chance I got.

black angus

I had the pepper crusted black angus sirloin with sour cream and creole mustard crushed potatoes with roasted summer vegetables and garlic thyme juice. My steak wasn’t as tender as Joe’s veal chop but it was tasty. My sides definitely weren’t as good as Joe’s though.

bread pudding

when we placed our order for our dinner, the server asked us if we would like to pre-order the bread pudding for dessert because the kitchen needs 20 minutes for this dish. Since New Orleans is famous for its bread pudding, we decided why not! The bread pudding was brought fresh from the oven to our table and the server added a cream glaze right there at the table. I was a little sad that he broke the top in order to pour cream inside (as the photographer trying to think of which way to angle the dish to take my picture, watching a huge gaping hole made in the top of my dessert). The bread pudding was amazing! It was your typical cinnamon raisin bread pudding but the cream had started to caramelize probably from the extreme heat of the bread pudding. Gave it a nice crisp.

Commander's Palace on Urbanspoon

Mangia Qui in Harrisburg

Mangia Qui
272 North Street
Harrisburg, PA 17101


This is a little exclusive nook w about 17 tables ( half of which can only seat 2 people). I’ve discovered the secret to quick service: get here at exactly noon when this place is still empty. When we came at 12:45, It was a good 10 minutes before we got menus and another 15 minutes after that when we finally placed our orders. With only 2 servers for the entire restaurant it’s no wonder that it was almost half an hour before our order made t to the fridge. Another surprising fact was that they have an extensive drink menu but the sole 2 servers of the entire restaurant are also the ones that make the drinks…

soup of the day

Pepper pot soup which is a cream based soup with peppers and onions and shrimp. There weren’t that many pieces of shrimp but the flavor was alright. Very watery for a creamy soup.

ribeye rollatini

the ribeye rollatini was only ok. i wasn’t a huge fan.


Rigatoni w Italian sausage and tomato sauce was such a small portion. Joe had finished his with a few bites and was still hungry after wiping his plate clean.

chicken salad sandiwch

The chicken salad sandwich was mixed in a home made tzaziki sauce w apple slices instead of the usual mayonnaise.  It gave it an interesting flavor which was complimented by the salt and vinegar chips. I especially liked the apple slices in tzaziki sauce.

filet mignon

The 4 oz grass fed filet mignon had a weird flavor and smell. It was pretty difficult to chew as well.  Luckily it was masked by the gorgonzola cheese, bacon strips and crispy stringy onion rings. I think because they were less busy we got more French fries than before. Hot and crispy!

crabcake sandwich

The crab cake sandwich with lemon aioli and French fries was delicious! By far my favorite out of everything I’ve had at this restaurant. The crab cake is huge and jam packed. Baked crispy on the outside and enhanced by the fiesty lemon aioli.

crabcake sandwich

Black Linguini tossed in an extra virgin olive oil and garlic with clams was also delicious. There weren’t that many clams but what I loved was the lob of goat cheese on top of the bread crumbs. I love it when chefs will add crispy bread crumbs on top of pasta, it breaks up the composition nicely.

black linguini

Mangia Qui on Urbanspoon

Rue 127 in New Orleans, LA

Rue 127
127 N. Carrollton Ave.
New Orleans, LA

Rue 127

Welcome to Rue 127. Chef Ray Gruezke is a New Orleans native which leaves no doubt as to why he turned a shot-gun house into a bistro style restaurant in Mid-City. I liked that the tables were arranged at an angle though so that patrons weren’t bumping elbows with their neighbors. Our table unfortunately was next to the bar area and so, we could hear pretty much every conversation going on next to us, whether it was a customer having a good laugh with a glass of wine or a few employees making a comment about a table.

When I  had heard about a new American bistro opening on the restaurant scene in mid-city, I immediately wanted to check it out. After reading some rave reviews, I quickly learned that it was of the utmost importance to secure a reservation well in advance (which I did).

fresh dinner rolls

Everything here is made from scratch, from our sweet dinner rolls to our special dessert (no spoiler here!)

Diver Scallops $12

My friend ordered the diver scallops as her appetizer. It was pan roasted with a foraged mushroom fricassee served in a saffron emulsion. Saffron, the world’s most expensive spice by weight, gave it a earthy honey flavor and beautiful yellow color. The scallops were cooked very well too (not overcooked like some restaurants in the Quarter).

mushroom risotto $8

Because I had read amazing things about this dish, I had to have it for my starter dish. Oven roasted oyster mushrooms and grilled portobello mushrooms served with extra virgin olive oil, and parmesan reggiano (one of my favorite cheeses of all time. it’s like parmesan but kicked up a few notches in sharpness).  This was an amazing dish. The mushrooms were prepared individually to keep their unique flavors intact and then combined wonderfully with the parmesan reggiano.

roasted chicken $16

My friend had the roasted chicken with mac & cheese. The half of a roasted chicken was served with brussel sprouts and rosemary dijon jus. She said that there wasn’t anything spectacular about the chicken. The mac & cheese was what made her dish worth it.

mac & cheese

The mac & cheese was pretty delicious with a unique blend of cheeses When the waiter said that the mac & cheese is made with gruyere, parmesan reggiano and cheddar, I wanted to order it! But another dish caught my eye…..

citrus glazed duck breast $22

The duck was amazing! It’s prepared medium-rare which I felt weird about at first but I figured this chef probably knows how to best serve this dish. The duck was so tender and juicy, and served with potato puree. I loved the Louisiana citrus jus surrounding the duck so that I could dip as I pleased.

the duck

You can see from this picture that a lot of attention and discipline went into the arrangement for an aesthetically pleasing effect. I had noticed this with my friend’s chicken dish as well but thought it was clearly evident with my duck dish.

5 Fried Cupcake $8

This was by far one of the most unique desserts I’ve come across in the Crescent City and so I had to order it when I saw it on the menu. 5 mini vanilla cupcakes are dipped into a delicious batter and then deep fried for our dining pleasure. Definitely the winner of the meal.

3 sauces

This picture was mainly to show you that the cupcake was pre-baked before being thrown in the fryer. But you also get a showcase of the 3 house-made sauces: creme fraiche, butterscotch and chocolate. The butterscotch was my personal favorite but the chocolate was my friend’s favorite.

This establishment is definitely a hidden gem in mid-city! The waiter was great too, being very attentive to our table and not in an annoying way (he was shocked that we hadn’t been brought our check at the end of the meal even though it only seemed like only a few minutes from when he said it would come out).

Rue 127 on Urbanspoon