Modo Mio, Philadelphia

I don’t even know where to start.

It isn’t often that I brag about how amazing my boyfriend Dave is.

I suppose most of the time it’s in an attempt to avoid bothering and irritating my friends with obnoxious and gushy facebook statuses and pictures… or maybe it’s just that I’d rather complain than talk about how wonderful things are.

Today I’m going to break my own rules.  Today we’re going to talk about how AWESOME Dave is.

Dave and I were unable to go out on a dinner date on Valentine’s Day.  We were too busy celebrating in a less conventional way… at the Circus!!  We had such a fun time.  I recently finished reading Water for Elephants and Dave caught on and bought us tickets for V-Day.  See… he rocks.

Dave and I went to the Circus for Valentine's Day!

Dave and I went to the Circus for Valentine’s Day!

Dave informed me the following day that we’d be going out to dinner next Friday night to properly celebrate Valentine’s Day.  He also somehow kept the destination a secret the whole week despite my incessant guessing and questioning.  (For those of you who don’t know this already, I have some serious menu anxiety and probably spend at least an hour stalking the menu before I go out… or else I’ll NEVER decide)  The only thing I was allowed to know was that the restaurant was BYOB… which just made me even more excited.

I still didn’t know where we were going when I got dressed Friday night, grabbed some wine, headed out of our apartment, onto the bus, and then onto the subway.  When we arrived in the Northern Liberties neighborhood of the city, I still was clueless.  I had a few guesses, but absolutely clueless… that was until we walked up to the door and I saw the logo…


OMG.  So many thoughts rushed into my mind all at the same time… OMG I cannot believe I’m here… How did Dave even find out about this place?  And Most importantly… WHAT ARE WE GOING TO EAT?!?!

Modo Mio has been on my “Philly Wish List” of restaurants to try for over a year.  It’s actually the second one from the top.  I’ve heard so many good things and read so many good reviews, I mean the place has 4.5 stars on Yelp… it has to be phenom, right?  Well… it was.

Our table was ready at the exact time of our reservation.  We had arrived a little early so we had to wait, but it wasn’t for long.  Dave and I were seated in between a party of 4 and a different party of 6.  It’s definitely a little cozy, but this totally added (in a GREAT way) to the whole experience.  Our server, Joe was fantastic.  He explained the restaurant’s Northern Italian style of food, their “Turista” menu option, and wasn’t afraid to make fun of me when he asked to open our wine for us and I handed him a twist-off.  Whoops!

Dave and I decided to go with the Turista where each person gets an Antipasti, a Pasta, a Secondi, and a Dessert, for $35/pp.  This is an awesome deal, since the portions are smaller and the entrees all cost >$15 anyway.  It was a perfect way to try as much as possible.  Which I love.  Obviously.

Our menu selection was swayed when we observed our neighbors receiving their first courses.  They raved about the Octopus and a few other items which we now obviously had to try for ourselves.  We also befriended our other neighbors who shared their homemade Sangria with us.  Loving this place so far!!

For our first course, Dave and I ordered the Octopus and the special of the night which was a Pork Belly Meatball topped with Roasted Tomatoes, a Seared Scallop, and Smoked Maple Sauce.  Smoked Maple Sauce?!  It was absolutely heavenly.  I can’t even begin to describe how amazing it was.  I seriously hope they find a place on the permanent menu for this dish.  I’d have to get it every time.  The Octopus was also outrageous, the dish was packed with so many textures and flavors.  The octopus itself was stewed in a spicy tomato sauce but was served piled high with a crispy crunchy Farinata (a thin crispy chickpea pancake), salty sliced olives, capers, and some type of crunchy veggie maybe.  It was drizzled in a rich creamy sauce that brought the entire dish together.

The daily special- Pork Belly Meatball, Scallop, Pistachio, SMOKED Maple Sauce.  MMM!

The daily special- Pork Belly Meatball, Scallop, Pistachio, SMOKED Maple Sauce. MMM!

Octopus Antipasti- one of my favorite dishes of the night.

Octopus Antipasti- one of my favorite dishes of the night.

Our pasta choices were also delicious, and we ate every single last bite on our plates.  We shared the Lasagna and Butternut Squash Ravioli.  Now, Dave and I are not huge pasta eaters… in fact we rarely order it, let alone Lasagna which can typically be really heavy.  But when I saw the Lasagna description on the menu (fresh pasta sheets, classic meat sauce, fried egg), I was all set.  Fried Egg?!  On Lasagna!?  How could I resist?  The Butternut Squash ravioli was also delish.  The creamy ravioli was topped with a hearty veal ragu– here we are again with the savory/sweet combination… my favorite.

Butternut Squash Ravioli in Veal Ragu

Butternut Squash Ravioli in Veal Ragu

Fresh Pasta w/ Meat Sauce Lasagna topped with the most perfectly fried egg.

Fresh Pasta w/ Meat Sauce Lasagna topped with the most perfectly fried egg.

Moving on to the entrees, we ordered the Brasato, aka Short Rib (red wine braised Short Ribs, crispy Roman Gnocci, pickled Red Onion, Rye, Raisins) and the Zuppe di Pesce (spicy mussels, shrimp, crab, fish, tomatoes, topped with fresh bread smothered in saffron mayo).  Dave and I have an unwritten rule of dining out, where we absolutely have to order Short Ribs when we see them on a menu.  It just ends up happening every time.  We’re suckers for those bad boys… we just can’t turn them down.  The Short Rib dish at Modo Mio was no exception and boy was it amazing.  The meat was so tender and juicy, and I honeslty could not even tell what else was included in the dish… since the entire thing was covered in this deliciously rich sauce.  YUM!!!!!  To die for.  The Zuppe di Pesce was also fantastic- it was loaded (and i mean LOADED) with tons of seafood, including more octopus… mmm!  The best part of the entire dish to me was the broth, a little bit salty, a little bit spicy, with some really powerful flavors.  I could have drank an entire jug of that stuff.

Saffron-Mayo topped Fresh Bread resting on the huge pile of seafood in a delicious broth... YUMMMM

Saffron-Mayo topped Fresh Bread resting on the huge pile of seafood in a delicious broth… YUMMMM

Short Ribs... who can resist them?

Short Ribs… who can resist them?

We were so full by the end, we figured we’d just order the desserts to-go and call it a night.  That was a great idea in theory, but once we saw them… there was no turning back.  Both desserts were absolutely manageable in terms of size.  We picked the Tiramisu and their Caramelito (I think it was called that!).  The Tiramisu may have converted me to being a huge fan of the dessert- something I probably have never ordered in my life.  It was super fluffy and light too.  The Caramel dessert was absolutely fantastic.  It was more like a rich pudding or custard covered in a very thin caramel sauce.  Needless to say, we were very full, but not full enough to stop us from devouring the desserts in full.  🙂

Delicate Tiramisu...

Delicate Tiramisu…

Homemade desserts are so underrated... delish.

Homemade desserts are so underrated… delish.


Not only was this a fabulous meal (are you drooling!?  I am!) with top-notch service, but I absolutely loved the ambiance of the restaurant.  We even ended up chit chatting with the couple sitting next to us for a half hour or so after we were all finished with our meal!  When was the last time you went out to a nice dinner and made friends?!

I am still going over this meal in my head and plotting a way to save some money to go back soon.  So, GREAT JOB Dave, you are the best!  Thank you so much 🙂  Love you!


Red Velvet Gooey Butter Cookies

Oh HI friends…. it’s been a while.

While I meant to post these babies just in time for Valentine’s Day… that just never happened… so you’re getting them now!  I mean really, who doesn’t love Red Velvet ANYDAY!?  There’s no rule saying you can only eat it for V-Day.  Am I right?

Beautiful flowers from my Valentine!

Beautiful flowers from my Valentine!

Dave and I went to the Circus for Valentine's Day!

Dave and I went to the Circus for Valentine’s Day!

It was so much fun... I loved the poodles and the elephants.

It was so much fun… I loved the poodles and the elephants.


I actually searched far and wide for the perfect cookies to make the boys for Valentine’s Day.  Everything I found was either too chocolately or just too complicated.  After stumbling across a semi-homemade Paula Deen recipe for which I only had to buy ONE thing at the grocery store… I knew I found a winner.

I do have to mention the color of my hands after rolling the dough… OMG!  It looked like I was experiencing some disgusting type of Stigmata.  So, make sure you keep your hands to yourself and wear your apron for this recipe!

Red Velvet Gooey Butter Cookies

Adapted from Paula Deen


1 (8-ounce) brick Cream Cheese, room temperature
1 stick Butter, at room temperature
1 Egg
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 (18-ounce) box moist Red Velvet Cake Mix (unprepared!)
Powdered Sugar, for dusting


1.  Preheat the oven to 350.  Prepare two cookie sheets with parchment or silpat.  

2.  With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth.  Add the egg, and then the vanilla extract and beat.  Add in the cake mix and beat.  Cover the bowl and refrigerate for two hours (this makes it easier to roll the batter into cookie balls!).

3.  Put about 1/2-1 cup powdered sugar in a small bowl or plate.  Roll the chilled batter into Tablespoon sized balls.  Roll them into the powdered sugar, covering the ball.  Place on the cookie sheets.

4.  Bake for 12 minutes.  Cool completely as they will still be super soft and gooey.  Once they are cool sprinkle with the leftover powdered sugar.  

Rich red cookie batter

Rich red cookie batter

Into the sugar it goes

Into the sugar it goes

I love using Silpat, especially because mine is pretty purple :)

I love using Silpat, especially because mine is pretty purple 🙂

Cookies are done!  YUM!  Now if only we could ALL wait until they were cool to dig in (yeah right)

Cookies are done! YUM! Now if only we could ALL wait until they were cool to dig in (yeah right)

We really enjoyed these cookies!  Next time, I’d like to make them but top them with some cream cheese frosting or glaze and sprinkles.  How pretty would that be?

The cookies indeed, as Paula mentioned… SUPER gooey and melty and delicious.

photo 5 (4)

This recipe can be found at this week’s Foodie Friends Friday!!

Foodie Friends Friday

VaVanilla Chocolate Cherry M&M Cookies

Happy Valentine’s Day from It’s Good To Be The Cook!


This is my first Valentine’s Day as a blogger, so I figured I had to at least make some kind of Love-Day related dessert for you!  I picked up a bag of new Cherry M&Ms from Target yesterday so I had to try them out.


I based this recipe off of one I found in a magazine provided by McCormick brand Vanilla Extract.  These cookies had not one, not two, but THREE types of chocolate and EXTRA vanilla.  They turned out amazing.



3 ¼ cups Flour

1 teaspoon Baking Soda

¾ teaspoons Salt

1 1/3 cups Butter, softened

1 ¼ cups Sugar

1 cup Light Brown Sugar, packed

2 Eggs

4 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract

2 handfuls Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips

2 handfuls White Chocolate Chips

1 bag Cherry M&Ms



1.  Preheat oven to 375.  Mix flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.  Set aside.

2.  Beat softened butter and both sugars in a mixer or with a hand mixer on medium speed until it is well combined and fluffy.

3.  Add eggs and vanilla, mix well.

4.  Slowly add the flour mixture, continuing to mix on low speed until it is all combined into a dough.

5.  With a rubber scraper or heavy plastic spoon (or your hands!) mix the chocolate and white chocolate chips into the cookies.

6.  Drop the cookies in large tablespoon mounds onto a parchment paper lined cookie tray.  Press three or four M&Ms onto each cookie.

7.  Bake in the oven for about 8-10 minutes or until the cookies are slightly browned on the edges but still light in the middle.  Cool in the pan for a few minutes before placing them on a cooling rack.

Making the cookies this size allowed for me to make about 20 cookies with one huge one leftover.

They are so good!  Eating them warm was heavenly.  Not over-cooking cookies is always a challenge of mine and this batch was perfect.  Dave’s suggestion to “add  more chocolate chips” was also perfect, and the cookies had just the right amount of chocolate to go with the extra vanilla in there!


I hope your Valentine’s Day is as sweet as our cookies!