Roma’s Tips for Outdoor Dining

Roma 04.28

 

With spring finally in full swing and plenty of reasons to celebrate on the horizon, the itch to get outside and enjoy the nice weather is stronger than ever. For many of us, maximizing our time outdoors can mean taking the things we would normally do inside out into the backyard or the local park— and of course, this means bringing our meals outdoors as well. Whether you’re setting up for a small picnic or a barbeque bash, read on for a few of our tips to make your outdoor dining experience a little easier!

  • Stay hydrated by bringing plenty of water with you. This isn’t just for your health; it will help to keep you and your guests happy and enjoying each other’s company longer! There’s nothing worse than enduring a dehydration headache while trying to enjoy a gathering of friends and family.
  • Sunscreen is a lifesaver— especially on those sunny days. Be sure to slather it on regularly to avoid that awful skin-prickling burn!
  • If you’re in the backyard, set up an umbrella over your table for shade and put cushions on the seats to keep your guests comfortable (and to keep legs from sticking to chairs in these ever-rising temperatures!)
  • If you don’t have access to a refrigerator, keep in mind the duration of your excursion and the temperature that day. Perishable foods shouldn’t be left out for more than an hour or so, especially in hot weather, so if you’re planning on being out for a while, be sure to bring plenty of ice and insulated coolers!
  • Be sure to have covers for the food to keep bees, other insects, and any wind-blown debris out of it! This can also lock in coolness depending on the material used in the container. Try not to bring anything that will shatter to avoid an accident ruining the day!
  • Keep the food simple. We’ve mentioned this as a picnic tip before, but it holds true no matter what your outdoor excursion is. Foods that are easily contained and easy to serve are the best options in outdoor scenarios, but don’t look at this as a limitation— your outdoor dining experience can still be scrumptious and include variations of your favorites!
  • Blankets and cushions are necessities if your intentions are to have a picnic on the ground. If you have a picnic table available to you, set the food here to keep ground-dwelling critters and insects from bothering you.
  • To avoid bees and other insects, first tip: find a spot that isn’t near a trash can. You can also set out mothballs near your setup area to keep them away— mothballs act as a stinky natural repellent to insects. To double up on your security measures (because there is nothing worse than having your picnic ruined by pests), you can create a concoction out of sugar, vinegar, water, and a chopped up banana peel inside of a 2-liter soda bottle, and hang it from a tree a little ways away from your site. This will get their attention and keep them from bothering you and your company! Mint is also a natural bee repellent, so by sprinkling mint leaves around the food and your picnic area, you can ward them off.

We hope you’re as thrilled about the return of the warm weather as we are. There is nothing sweeter than an outdoor gathering with all of your favorite people. Wishing you a beautiful spring— we’ll see you the next time you stop in for your picnicking needs!

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Roma Recipes: Easter Bread!

Roma 04.2017

Every holiday that comes around brings with it a recipe or two that we just can’t wait to dig into— and we suppose that’s what makes food so special. It has the power to remind us of a certain time or place; evoking cherished memories of family, friends, and the best of times gathered around a table sharing life’s greatest gift— togetherness. Times change, but these memories (and the treasured recipes!) are something we hold dear always. One such recipe for us is Easter bread— and we’re leaking it to our beloved Roma’s fanatics because we just couldn’t wait to share. What are some of your favorite holiday recipes? Send them to latham@romafoods.com for a chance to have them featured in our Customer Cookbook before we publish it!

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 package rapid-rise yeast
  • 1.25 cups scalded milk (cooled to room temperature)
  • A dash of salt
  • ⅓ c softened butter
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • ½ c sugar
  • 3.5 c flour
  • 1 beaten egg for wash (mixed with 1 tsp water)
  • 6 dyed Easter eggs (unboiled)
  • Sprinkles

 

Directions:

  • In mixing bowl, combine yeast, milk, salt, butter, eggs, sugar, and half the flour. Mix thoroughly— use a dough hook if you have one!
  • Add remaining flour a little at a time and mix until a stiff dough forms (just keep adding flour until dough is no longer sticky)
  • Knead until smooth, place in greased bowl on countertop and cover to allow to rise for about an hour— dough should double in size.
  • Punch dough down and divide into 12 equal sections, pulling until they form ropes that are about an inch thick and 14 inches in length.
  • Using two ropes, twist into a braided dough rope, then pinch the ends together to form a circle.
  • Place on greased baking sheet and brush with egg wash. Top with sprinkles and add an egg into the center of each.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, keeping watch not to burn, then allow to cool on rack. Enjoy!

Make Your Own Marinade

Roma 03.2017

Grilling season is upon us. You can literally smell it in the air as you peruse the neighborhoods of the Capital Region. While these warm days may be fleeting now, we know that higher temperatures are on the way— and so, here we are. To help you prepare for all of your grilling pleasures, we’ve created a guide to creating your own marinade, plus tips on maximizing the flavor— because often times, the marinade makes the meat. You might have a go-to marinade that you prefer to use, whether it be a simple Italian dressing or a mixture you throw together on the fly; but this guide will help you realize just how creative you can get with your marinades and maximize your grilling enjoyment. Have fun!

 

What You’ll Need:

 

Some type of acidic liquid, such as vinegar, wine, lemon, lime, or orange juice.
Why? The acidic pH helps to tenderize the meat; and using an acidic component in your marinade can help to reduce the amount of carcinogens that could otherwise be created in the food when cooking over an open flame.

 

Oil such as olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, or safflower oil.
Why? Oils help to lock moisture into the meat to prevent it from drying out while it grills, and the healthy fats from EVOO can replace some of the less-healthy animal fat that will leak out during the cooking process.

 

Spices and herbs such as oregano, black pepper, onion and garlic powder— or whatever your heart desires.

Why? Well, all of the oil and acid is getting into your meat, helping it to cook better and enhance the flavor— the spices will do the same thing, seeping into the cut and giving it a delicious taste. The seasoning aspect of the marinade allows for you to get really creative. You can incorporate whatever spices you’d like, taking care to pair the flavors the way you might in any other dish.

 

A pinch of salt

Why? A pinch of salt will help to enhance the flavor and bring out more juices in the meat. You don’t need to use a lot of salt— a little will go a long way.

 

Additional Tips for Marinating:

  • Taste your marinade before you pour it over your meat to make sure you like the flavor.
  • Pierce the meat with a fork to allow the marinade to soak into the meat.
  • Use glass or plastic as your marinating vessel— aluminum may react to the acid in the marinade.
  • Cover and let marinate in the fridge, where the meat will not get too warm and form illness-causing bacteria.
  • You can use marinades on vegetables and tofu as well, so there’s really no limit to what you can do with your new creations!
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This post is filed under Blog, Meat, Recipes

How to Get Rid of the Smell After Cooking Fish

Roma 03.2017

Cooking is a wonderful hobby that yields delicious results. Everyone wins— except for when the odor of whatever you cooked lingers for longer than you bargained for. If you’re observing Lent, you might be cooking a lot more fish and seafood than you would on a normal basis. Don’t worry– even if you’re observing the tradition, your home doesn’t have to let on. Read on for a few of our tips on how to get rid of the fishy smell and enjoy your seafood meal even more than you already do.

Open the Windows:
Give the gross smells a place to escape. It also helps to keep the fan over the stove on, if you have one!

Brew Some Coffee:
Just like when you smell cologne at a department store, where they conveniently keep coffee beans on hand to cleanse your nostrils, coffee can help to wipe the smell of fish out of your kitchen. It’s a pleasant aroma that will mask the not-so-pleasant ones, without overpowering or creating funky smells in the process.

Vinegar:
Keep a bowl of vinegar on the stove once you’ve finished cooking to absorb the smell. This is an easy and natural way to get the smell out, but it helps if you like the smell of vinegar (at least, more so than the smell of fish!).

Candles and Air Fresheners:
Burning candles or spraying an aromatic air freshener is a quick way to get the fishy smell out of the kitchen or dining room without having to wait very long. Just make sure none of your guests (if you’re entertaining) have adverse reactions to the strong floral or fruity smells!

Get the Grill Out…
You know how we love grilling… If you’re really quite opposed to having the smell of fish indoors, the easiest way to avoid it is to cook outside. There are plenty of fish and seafood options that cook well on the grill (read one of our other blogs on the best grilling fish here!).

Easy Meatless Meals

Roma 02.24

Whether you’re observing Lent (March 1st through April 13th this year) or just want to experiment with options for meat-free meals, Roma’s can help. We proudly carry the freshest produce and seafood selection in the area— which means your dishes will be healthy and oh-so-flavorful. Planning meatless meals is a fun way to spice things up in your kitchen, and you can still get all of the nutrients you need from a meal that doesn’t have meat. Though many choose to eat seafood during Lent, there are just as many meal options that don’t include seafood. Here are a few of our ideas for meatless meals that you can make at home:

– Soups and chilis made with beans or squash
– Eggplant parmesan (Also sold pre-made at Roma’s!)
– Shrimp scampi
– Linguini with clam sauce
– Clam chowder: Make a meatless version like this one from Food Network.
– A big salad packed with all of your favorite (non-meat) toppings
– Grilled fish with a side of grilled vegetables (it’s asparagus season!)
– Pasta dishes with meatless marinara or alfredo sauce
– Grilled cheese sandwiches: Super quick and easy if you’re in a pinch, and you can use as many different kinds of cheese as you’d like. Muenster makes a great grilled cheese.

If you’re concerned about your protein intake throughout the course of Lent, experiment with protein-rich grains and legumes in your recipes, and be sure to incorporate seafood where possible. There are plenty of plant-based protein sources that will help supplement the protein you get from seafood, so you can stay healthy and energized during Lent.

Be sure to chat with our staff if you need any assistance finding what you need in the store (or if you need more meatless meal ideas!). And if you encounter a Friday where you just don’t feel like cooking, call ahead and place an order for our Lenten specials!

Roma Lent

The History of Saint Valentine

Roma 02.2017

Valentine’s Day is a joyful holiday that instils feelings of love and gratitude for all; not just those who are celebrating with their partner. Amidst the candy hearts, cards, chocolate boxes, stuffed animals, and pink-and-red decor that fill up all of the local grocery and department stores, the history of Valentine’s Day is often forgotten. We’ve compiled a brief recollection of the ancient history surrounding the day of Saint Valentine just in case you’d like to learn more!

 

While the history of Valentine’s Day is shrouded in dark mystery, there are certain things that seem to be reliable. It seems that the Valentine’s Day as we know it, full of gentle pink hearts and candy, evolved from an ancient Roman celebration of Lupercalia– a festival of fertility in honor of the Roman god Lupercus (also known as Faunus, or Pan in Greek history). In this festival, which originally took place on February 15th, some interesting ancient Roman traditions were carried out and love matches were found. Somewhere along the line, several men by the name of Valentine were executed under Roman orders.

 

The holiday itself is named after Saint Valentine of Rome, who was imprisoned and later executed for performing marriages for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for spreading Christianity throughout Rome, as Christianity was persecuted under the Roman empire. While various sources offer different accounts of the legend, they all seem to include that Valentine wrote a farewell letter to the daughter of the man who imprisoned him prior to his execution, signing it “Your Valentine”— thus coining the expression we use on the holiday to this day!
Since the ancient Roman times, the holiday has seen much evolution. As courtship became increasingly popular throughout the ages, gifts of candies, flowers, and even keys (to unlock the giver’s heart) were exchanged in the celebrating countries. We here at Roma’s still think that nothing beats a home cooked meal for your sweetheart.

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This post is filed under Blog, Holiday
Roma 01.27

Become the Master of Impromptu Get-Togethers

Here we are again— a little over a week out from the Super Bowl, and some of us are still without plans for the big day. Each year, with the rush of day-of customers and last-minute orders, it seems that Super Bowl gatherings are becoming more and more impromptu— gatherings that have not been planned far in advance by any means. Regardless of the reasoning, if you’re one of those people who would like to host, but just don’t feel like planning much, read on for tips on becoming a Roma’s Certified Master of Impromptu Events. In no time, you’ll be enjoying a Super Bowl shindig that was thrown together with little planning and even less stress. While we don’t recommend this kind of preparation for every occasion, we do think that sometimes you need to take a break from the heavy planning and let the last-minute fun take its course. Enjoy!

 

Saturday, February 4, 2017:

AM: Send out your text messages, calls, or emails to your list of potential attendees, and let them know that they should bring a little something to pass.

PM: Take note of how many people will be attending to prepare yourself as to how many napkins, plates, bowls, cups, etc. you may need to put out. Go to bed smiling knowing that tomorrow will be wonderfully low-key, as all Sunday should be.

 

Sunday, February 5th, 2017:

AM: Swing by Roma’s if you’ve got anything to pick up for the big day (we’re open ‘til 3!). Then, clean the house up, clean yourself up, and relax.

PM: It’s time for the “grand” setup. As your guests come in, preferably with Super Bowl snacks in tow, thank them and set them out as follows:

  • LIVING ROOM:
    • Bowls of chips, dips, pretzels, and veggie platters in easy grabbing distance. Set small amounts of napkins and a small pile of plates out as well (just in case messes are made).
  • KITCHEN/DINING ROOM:
    • Set up slow cookers within reach of the outlets on your countertops, and dishes of larger items like a sub platter on counters or tables with plates, napkins, and silverware abound. Practicality is the main priority here, but it also helps that the foods you’ll want to keep as leftovers are farther from the TV. 😉
    • Set up a section of the kitchen or dining room table so that your guests can serve themselves drinks— make sure cups and ice are readily available.
    • After kickoff, worry about nothing except for refilling your plate and enjoying your company, the game, and the commercials.

How to Eat Healthy in 2017

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Like many other people this year, your resolutions for 2017 may include slight or dramatic changes to your diet. Whether you’re changing it completely by choosing leaner meats, lowering sugar intake, curbing your carbs, or any number of other aspects, or just trying to choose healthier items to incorporate into your meals, Roma’s has a few tips to help you stick to your resolutions without faltering.

 

If your resolution is to:

Eat leaner meat or build muscle:

Swing by our Butcher Shop— the options are endless. We have an abundance of lean meats, fish, and the freshest seafood you’ll find in the Capital Region— protein-packed and rich in nutrients to help you build muscle, yet healthy enough that you can eat it at least a few times a week (if not every day). We’d be happy to help with suggestions for healthy preparations, too!

 

Eat more vegetables:

There are so many different kinds of veggies that you can incorporate into your recipes. Spinach, though common, is one of our favorites, as it’s easy to toss into anything and wilts down quite a bit, so you can use a lot of it without realizing it (a good thing, in this case!). If you want to try something a little different, pick up a couple of beets or rutabagas! Experiment with various vegetables and different cooking methods to get you excited about eating them! Grab some of our imported EVOO and some fresh produce and roast or fry them! Another great way to incorporate more green is to serve your protein on a bed of fresh spinach, kale, or romaine— that way, you can get a little bit healthier with every bite!

 

Choose healthier sides:

Try grains like quinoa and farro, various kinds of rice, or even creating your own “rice” by finely chopping (or ricing) cauliflower! Healthy grains don’t have to be bland or difficult to find if you know the best ways to navigate the healthy grain alternatives.

 

Try new things:

There are so many healthy ingredients that you can incorporate into your meal plans if you’re looking to give something new a try. For example, tahini (sesame seed paste) is a great condiment for various dishes. It tastes wonderful with Mediterranean food— we love dipping our falafel in it! There are plenty of other ways that you can incorporate it— even if it’s just by adding some seasonings and using it to top your salads. Google a few recipes before you stop in, or ask one of our staff about uses for any ingredient in our store! We’d be happy to help you meet your goals.

 

General tips:

  • Create a meal plan at the beginning of the week (or even the week beforehand).
  • Once you find a number of recipes that you enjoy, create grocery lists for each recipe in a word file so that you can just copy and paste the ingredients list into your shopping list when you’re ready to have it again— that way, you don’t have to hunt through and type out handwritten lists over and over again!
  • If you’re trying to eat healthier in general, don’t look at it as a punishment to yourself. If you start viewing things as off-limits, you’ll feel more negatively about not eating those items. Instead, try to change your mindset about the item— “I shouldn’t”, as opposed to an “I can’t”.
  • Put your healthier grab & go foods within eye level in your refrigerator so that they’re the first thing you’re confronted with when you open it— that way, your goals are always being reinforced!

We’re proud to offer delicious solutions to any diet constraint. We wish you the best of luck with all of your New Year’s Resolutions and look forward to helping you accomplish them in any way we can!

Holy Cannoli: Quick and Delicious Holiday Desserts!

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We’re all for easy (and delicious) ways to make the holidays sweet. If you’re someone who loves to spend countless hours baking Christmas cookies, more power to you! There’s nothing better than homemade goodies. For those of us for whom those extra baking hours don’t exist, we’ve got a quick and simple option for you!

Swing by Roma’s, pick up a package of our homemade cannoli shells and our mascarpone, and grab a few things you or your family members enjoy to mix into the filling or decorate the ends or shells with. There are so many ways to jazz up a cannoli— and with our ready-to-go ingredients, you’ll save so much time.

What you’ll need:

  • Roma’s cannoli shells
  • Roma’s mascarpone filling
  • Powdered sugar
  • Toss-ins (A few of our favorites: Candies, chocolate chips, sprinkles, crushed pistachios, dark or milk chocolate— share your favorites with us!)

What to do:

  • Carefully remove the shells from their packaging and lay them out on a flat, clean surface.
  • If you wish, mix mini chocolate chips in with the mascarpone (it’s delicious).
  • Using a pastry bag (or if you don’t have a pastry bag, you can make due with a plastic zip-lock bag with the corner cut off), carefully fill the shell by squeezing the bag and moving the tip in a circle starting from the middle and moving out. Once one half of the shell is filled, flip your cannoli and begin filling the other half.
  • Dip the mascarpone at the ends into a bowl of sprinkles, mini chocolate chips, crushed pistachios, or crushed peppermint candies; and/or melt down your chocolate and drizzle over the tops of the shells. *You can also dip the tips of the shells into melted chocolate before filling them!
  • Dust your cannolis with powdered sugar and pop them into the fridge to cool.
  • Serve chilled for dessert (or breakfast!).

Buon Appetito!

Roma’s Greatest Gift Guide

roma-gift-guide

‘Tis the season to give! This holiday season, we’ve come up with a grand list of great gifting ideas— one with options to please everyone.

– Party Platters, Sandwich Platters
– Long Subs
– Prepared Foods, Lasagna, Chicken, Fish, Veal
Eggplant, Meatball Trays & more!
– All Natural Rib Roasts, Filets, Meat, Poultry & Fish
– Fried and Oreganata Baccala
– Calamari and Baccala Salads
– Beef and Pork Braciole
– Soaked Baccala
– Italian Chocolates, Panettone, Panforte
– Amaretti, Torrone & more!
– Electric Pizzelle Makers
– Hand-painted Ceramic Bowls
– Stovetop/ Electric Coffee/Cappuccino Makers
– Demitasse Sets
– Kitchen Gadgets and Pasta Makers
– Gift Baskets
– Gift Cards
– Plus so much more!

Stop by and peruse our selection today!