Cioppino (pronounced chuh-PEE-no) is considered San Francisco’s signature dish, and no trip to this West Coast city would be complete without a bowlful. Because of the versatility of the ingredients, there are numerous recipes for it. Cioppino can be prepared with a dozen kinds of fish and shellfish It all depends on the day’s catch of your personal choice. This fish stew first became popular on the docks of San Francisco (now known as Fisherman’s wharf) in the 1930s. Cioppino is thought to be the result of Italian immigrant fishermen adding something from the day’s catch to the communal stew kettle on the wharf. The origin of the work “cioppino” is something of a mystery, and many historians believe that it is Italian-American for “chip in.” It is also believed that the name comes from a Genoese fish stew called cioppin.

Good to be back home at my little corner in the kitchen.  Visited mom for a few days at our old neighborhood in Brentwood, California and ate like there was no tomorrow.  Although back in my cozy kitchen cove, I was not quite ready to dive into the chopping board yet, so I whipped up something quick and easy for dinner.  If you recall my baked tortilla chips and dip(s) post on Superbowl Sunday–where I mustered a variety of seasonings for the baked tortillas, last night’s Bacon & Four-Cheese Tortilla Chips with Chunky Guacamole topped with homemade Crispy Bacon Bits dinner made for a wondrous evening of light snacking, yet was filling enough to satisfy my family’s hungry palettes.

Thus, without further delay, below is my rendition of homemade guacamole, chunky style!

When I was dating my hubby a few years back, I was no Martha Stewart, nor a Betty Crocker in the kitchen.  My husband (boyfriend at the time) would simply purchase our favorite meals from supermarkets and pre-heat.  Don’t get me wrong, both my hubby and I knew how to cook, we just ‘didn’t’ do much at the time.  Looking back, shrimp scampi was always on our ‘to-buy’ list and became a weekly staple on the kitchen table.  Our favorite kind usually came in a ‘box’, frozen, and ready to add over pasta or rice.  So cooking scampi last night was reminiscent of our ‘dating days’ and just how much we’ve come a long ways with our cooking skills in the kitchen…

Spring 2012, 10 am.  Hungry for a good, hardy meal.  My family and I recently moved to Placerville at the time and were anxious to experience the local eateries in town.  Whilst perusing through the menu at the Buttercup Pantry on Main Street, I couldn’t help but notice the ‘Hangout Fry’. So when the waitress came back around to take our order, I asked her what this omelet menagerie was all about.  Sure enough and without hesitation, our waitress was overjoyed to share her short-version story of the ‘Hangtown Fry‘…

Ever since I spotted a tiny little kitchen gadget–doughnut cutter from Williams-Sonoma, I have had the inkling to make doughnuts at home! On a similar note, last week we ventured to a shopping center and luckily enough, I spotted a Williams-Sonoma store. Once in, one of the first things that came to mind, of course, was that inevitable doughnut cutter that has been lingering back and forth in my WS ‘shopping cart’ online. CONSIDERING that it is always best seeing, touching, and experiencing things ‘in-person’, I was beside myself when I finally purchase the doughnut cutter, along with a ‘few’ other little items, that will eventually join the gaggle of gadgets already situated in our kitchen drawer.

With my favorite recipe books lined up and food writing class as we speak, I  am off to a good start for the new year!  Speaking of which, as I hone in on my Filipino roots, although I don’t practice most, I still like to partake in learning about our traditions, customs and superstitions.  In matters of food, part of our customary tradition, or superstition, if you may, in preparation for New Year’s Eve is to have twelve (12) round fruits, each to signify a month of the year. Ideally, twelve different round fruits such as clementines, cantaloupe, grapes, grapefruits, oranges, watermelon–but as it can be challenging to gather all things round and fruity, some of the fruits end up being non-circular such as mangoes, apples or the like.  As for me, well, I grabbed one bag of clementines which had at least 12 in a bag, so I was good to go…

Happy New Year! 

It’s mid-afternoon here in sunny, but crispy cold Placerville, California…and as I sit here in the wee corner desk in the kitchen of my humble abode, I clearly contemplate on the many great days, as, too, of the trials and tribulations that has bestowed my life throughout the past year.  Moving forward, I focus not on a ‘resolution’ for the new year but on goals for the next 364 1/2 days left of 2013…

Although I have kept myself busy in the kitchen since my last post, I’ve managed to stumble upon the Holidays writer’s block.  Thus, in the midst of playing around with the idea of what to do with the left-over pot roast from last’s night’s (or two days ago) dinner and in collaboration with my wonderful husband, we bring to you today The Cooking Apprentice’s first recipe share of the year….

Looking for something fancy and fabulous to bake and gift for the holidays?   Well, with a little imagination and creativity take a few simple ingredients such as flour, sugar, butter and eggs and get ready to strut their stuff in the kitchen!

Now, do you remember those wonderful glasses with a pattern-etched stamp or glass?  I know I do, only I remember them being back at my parents home when I was about 8 years old.  Well, who would have thought that these wonderful glasses would add touch of elegance to cookies?

I don’t care much for ‘sweet potatoes’ in general, so it’s really not something you will find at my home often, if at all…with the exception of an intent to make sweet potato fries!

My first encounter with sweet potato fries was only a few months ago when I decided to venture at the frozen section of the Supermarket.  There was a 2 for $7 sale on frozen, organic sweet potato fries.  I figured, it wouldn’t hurt, right? 

Here we are once again, perusing through the website for the inevitable dessert after a nice comfort meal.  Lately, in my neck of the woods, heavy rain has set in, along with rolling fogs that settle amidst the foothills of our property.  Quite a beautiful sight to enjoy, alongside my big cup of coffee.  It is also days like this when it calls for a semi or no-bake culinary muse in my kitchen!  So once again, I turn back to one of my favorite food blogger extraordinaire, Stella Dacuma Schour  of Cooking with Stellaaa, whose motto “I cook with feelings and without exact measurements” coincides with my culinary philosophy of reinventing a recipe in the simplest way possible and with heart.  In Stella’s original recipe, without a doubt, she definitely had me at ‘No-Bake Honey Cheesecake’.

Without further adieu, in the spirit of creativity without the hazzle, below is my version of this delectable dessert.  Do enjoy!–gcc