Great Reads

Tiny Hot Dogs: A Memoir in Small Bites

Publish Date:
Mary Giuliani
Started: 4/11/19

A big thanks to Netgalley and Running Press  for sending me this copy to read for review purposes.

Goodreads Summary:

Mary’s utterly unremarkable childhood was everything she didn’t want: hailing from a deeply loving yet overprotective Italian family in an all-Jewish enclave on Long Island. All she wanted was to fit in (be Jewish) and become famous (specifically a cast member on Saturday Night Live). With an easy, natural storytelling sensibility, Mary shares her journey from a cosseted childhood home to the stage and finally to the party, accidentally landing what she now refers to as “the breakthrough role of a lifetime” catering to a glittery list of stars she once hoped to be part of herself.

Fresh, personal, and full of Mary’s humorous, self-deprecating, and can-do attitude against all odds, you’ll want to see where each shiny silver tray of hors d’oeuvres takes her next. You never know when the humble hot dog will be a crucial ingredient in the recipe for success, in building a business or simply making life more delicious.

My Review:

I enjoyed this read way more than I thought I would. I have seen Mary’s guest appearances on multiple cooking shows throughout the years. She’s hilarious. I was glad to read this memoir. Her stories were quick to read but enjoyable. I loved reading her celebrity awe-struck stories. It’s a great reminder that even our celebrities can become smitten with celebrities themselves.

Yes, it is super short and yes, the stories she recalls are small tidbits of her life but they’re funny. None of the short stories are super important and most of them are stories in good fun but I really did enjoy it anyway. 

Also, as a food blogger, I loved the multiple recipes thrown in throughout the book. There are a few I want to try. Mary makes average picky eater foods and makes them into interesting adult-like appetizers. Reading some of these were super interesting.

Any food-lover will enjoy reading Mary’s short tidbits of her life. I suggest this for a very light yet funny read!

Great Restaurants

Puyero – Hallaca Making Class

Do you have any Christmas traditions? Are there certain dishes that your family makes for Christmas every year? Even bigger, is there a tradition that your culture abides to every year? I’m a mutt so I try and incorporate a little of everything. I am German and Italian on my father’s side. My grandfather always brought us what he called “Klerban”. It’s like a Christmas fruit bread. I’m not sure where the name came from for him but when googled, it looks like they regularly call it Stollen. We also incorporate the Christmas Eve tradition of the seven fishes. My mother is Puerto Rican. We have coquito and Puerto Ricans often make pastilles for Christmas tradition. Pastilles are very similar to the Venezuelan hallacas which is what this post is all about!!!

There’s a great little restaurant in Philadelphia that is called Puyero Venezuelan Flavor. During this Christmas season, they are offering classes that teach how to make Hallacas and also offer some other traditional Christmas dishes like pan de jamon. I had a chance to preview the class on Monday. It was very informative, insanely delicious, and so much fun!!! There was a class on Wednesday but there are two other classes that you can sign up for. The event is $30 per person and is being held on November 28th, or December 5th. UPDATE: NOVEMBER 28TH IS ALREADY SOLD OUT.  You can get tickets HERE. Buy fast because tickets are moving quickly!

Puyero is found at:
524 South 4th Street,
Philadelphia, PA, 19147

Thanks to my foodie friend PhillyFoodGal for the invite.

Before wrapping the hallacas into the plantain leaves.

A finished hallaca that I got to sink my teeth in.

The entire loaf of pan de jamon that I could have eaten by myself given the opportunity!

This was the pan de jamon. It was the percfect mix of sweet and salty!

Their Andes hot chocolate which was so rich and thick it was unbelivable. It has cinnamon and vanilla in it!

If you aren’t available for the class, you can come in anytime from now to December 30th to try some of the hallacas!

Great Recipes

Poor Man’s “Crab” and Spaghetti

Being from South Jersey, I love crabs. They’re amazing but they’re not easy to get in the colder months. Not only that, even in the summer they’re usually market price depending on how the crabbing season is going and even the smallest of crabs can be expensive. My father makes an amazing crab and spaghetti and sometimes you’re just wishing for it but your ingredients aren’t readily available. For a good crab gravy, you MUST use real, fresh, blue claw crab meat. This recipe is my substitution for the winter months. I also make it in the summer when I just have a hankering for crab gravy but don’t have the time to go get some freshies.

Continue reading “Poor Man’s “Crab” and Spaghetti”

Great Recipes

Poor Man’s French Onion Chicken

This is literally the most juicy and moist chicken I have ever made. Even without the extras, I will start to make my chicken like this a lot more in hopes that the juiciness transpires in all my chicken recipes. Feel free to change up the spices used below. I don’t usually measure my spices for this recipe and just sprinkle enough to make sure each piece of chicken is thoroughly coated. I also use two HUGE chicken breasts cut in half to make four servings. Feel free to change the chicken servings to your desire. The recipe is very easy to increase or decrease to your needs. The ingredients are also pretty standard and inexpensive. YUMMY!

Continue reading “Poor Man’s French Onion Chicken”

Great Restaurants

Tsaocaa & BBQ Chicken

Hey Philly, want to get some teas and Korean fried chicken? Come try out the new Tsaocaa & BBQ Chicken place over in Chinatown.

BBQ chicken here is not what you’re thinking. You won’t find any BBQ sauce smothered chicken 🍗. BBQ stands for “best of the best quality” and that’s for certain! This is a major chain that started in Korea. I believe there are 16 locations in the US at the moment. As for the Tsaocaa Tea, this is the first location here in the US. The combination of the two chains is killer! The milk tea and other varieties compliment the spice in the chicken so well. It is definitely something to try.

I’ll start with the chicken first. The chicken is beyond crispy. It’s fried in olive oil and only one time! The meat stays crazy juicy and the coating stays super crisp. You will find a variety of sauces from mild to hot. The sauces are: red hot garlic, hot spicy, soy garlic, secret spicy, honey garlic, a more Korean authentic gang-jeong and CHEESLING. Cheesling is a mix of two powdered cheeses. Don’t knock it until you try it. I think we were all in agreeance that it was our favorite! It was different and delicious. I can’t wait until I get to try them again. All the sauces were delicious. Cheeseling was awesome and so was the Secret Spicy which is more sweet than just spicy. A little more kick than your traditional Asian Sweet Chili Sauce in my opinion.  You can also get them without sauce. I won’t call these dry because they’re not dry, they’re unsauced! They’re still amazing and have a distinct taste that seperates them from American fried chicken.  My next order will definitly be some of the secret spicy, some cheeslings, and then believe it or not, the original unsauced! I’m a big fan on bone-in wings. I feel like they give you a more satisfying tasty crunch but here, I liked all the boneless a tad bit more. I think they held the sauce better but a mixture of the two would be a perfect combo!

Unsauced Crunchy Original Olive Chicken – Look at that crunch!

Mmm, saucy

The left side is the cheesling variety. So delicious and different. The pickled radish pictured above is also a must!


There was a large variety of tea. It was the first time I’ve sampled the milk teas with cheese. I’m not quite sure exactly what it is but it’s great. It’s not a cheddar cheese kinda deal so don’t be afraid. It’s quite good. We had it on top of a blueberry drink and a mango drink.The mango drink was my favorite of the two. It was a mango puree and delicious!

My favorite drink of them all was the “More Than See You” – an iced grapefruit tea. I COULD DRINK THIS EVERY DAY. NO, I COULD BATHE IN THIS. IT WAS THE MOST DELICIOUS DRINK, EVER! It was also Patrick, the owner’s, very favorite too! We sampled so many and they were all great!

Blueberry cheese, mango cheese, grapefruit iced tea, and a peach oolong tea

Tea Menu

Looking at Grubhub and Yelp reviews, the biggest complaint seems to be the delivery service and long waits. I didn’t experience either obviously because we dined in and had as fast service as can be expected. This chicken IS MADE TO ORDER. No pre-fried soggy chicken is found here. Speaking of soggy, to be honest, it took us a half hour to take pictures and the chicken was still as crunchy as when it came out hot! And the room temp didn’t bother me at all! It was just as delicious.

Seriously, there’s a menu disclaimer!

They can be found at:
938 Race Street
Philadelphia PA 19107 (Chinatown)

You can also try out the North Wales location at:
1222 Welsh Rd Unit B7,
North Wales, PA 19454 (inside ASSI Plaza)

The locations here in Philly is only serving the olive chicken and the Tsaocaa Teas but you can find the BBQ headquarters website here: BBQ CHICKEN OMG YES! And I have yet to find a Tsaocaa website that is translated in English so I’m not sure which is a main website but for some pictures of the teas we tried you can click riiiiiighttttt… HERE! Lol.

Make sure you follow myself and the other foodies who tried out this place and check out their thoughts!:

@littleteacherbigappetite (me)

And while you’re at it, definitely do not forget to look at the restaurant instagrams!


Now this is what I call a feast!