"I am not a glutton, I am an explorer of food." - Erma Bombeck

Friday, November 12, 2010

Taking a break

from trying new restaurants. We are trying to save for a house!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Peach Melba is also one of those gourmet desserts you get in a post restaurant that is deceptively simple to make. I stole. .. uh. . .borrowed this recipe when I had my not-so-secret love affair with Nigella Lawson (Nigella Feasts) last year.



• 3 cups water

• 3 1/2 cups sugar

• 1 vanilla pod, split lengthwise

• 2 tablespoons lemon juice

• 8 peaches

Raspberry sauce:

• 3 cups raspberries

• 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

• 1 tablespoon lemon juice

To serve:

• 1 large tub vanilla ice


Put the water, sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla pod into a wide saucepan and heat gently to dissolve the sugar. Bring the pan to the boil and let it bubble away for about 5 minutes, then turn the heat down to a fast simmer.

Cut the peaches in half, and if the stones come out easily then remove them, if not then you can get them out later. Poach the peach halves in the sugar syrup for about 2 to 3 minutes on each side depending on the ripeness of the fruit. Test the cut side with the sharp point of a knife to see if they are soft, and then remove them to a plate with a slotted spoon.

When all the peaches are poached, peel off their skins and let them cool (then you can remove any remaining stones). If you are making them a day in advance then let the poaching syrup cool and then pour into a dish with the peaches. Otherwise just bag up the syrup and freeze it for the next time you poach peaches.

To make the raspberry sauce, liquidize the raspberries, confectioners' sugar, and lemon juice in a blender or a food processor. Sieve to remove the pits and pour the puree into a jug.

To assemble the Peach Melba, allow 2 peach halves per person and sit them on each plate alongside a scoop or 2 of ice cream. Spoon the raspberry sauce over each.

I love how the peach skin just comes right off after a minute in the poaching syrup. The peach stones gave me a bit of trouble, but that’s because my peaches were just this side of under-ripe. I tell you what, the raspberry sauce gave me hell. I didn’t have a sieve big enough to get rid of the raspberry seeds, but I had a tea strainer (1/3 cup size), that took forever. What’s awesome about this recipe is that it only takes about 10 minutes to make as well (unless you are trying to strain raspberry puree through a tea strainer), and when you’re done, you have this delicious hot pink peachy syrup that you can stick in your freezer to use on other desserts!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Gourmet Desserts: In which I try not to set myself or my phone on fire Pt. 1

Today I would like to talk about the gourmet desserts Peach Melba and bananas foster. The desserts you find in the super posh restaurant that cost $14 a person (you know who you are BURNS!—not my friends, the restaurant!) I remember my early 20’s going to Burns desert room and shelling out the $14 happily because I actually thought bananas foster was this complicated thing that I would never be able to do at home. WRONG! Part of me realizes that I was paying for the experience as well, but I never thought the majority of that money was for the atmosphere!

That said, Bananas Foster is SUPER EASY and so is Peach Melba.

Bananas Foster recipe courtesy of Alton Brown (Good Eats )

  •  2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup (1.75 ounces) dark brown sugar
  •  1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  •  1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  •  1 tablespoon banana liqueur
  •  2 under ripe bananas, sliced in half lengthwise
  •  1/4 cup dark rum
  •  1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest


Melt butter in a 10-inch heavy skillet over low heat. Add brown sugar, allspice and nutmeg and stir until sugar dissolves. Add banana liqueur and bring sauce to simmer. Add bananas and cook for 1 minute on each side, carefully spooning sauce over bananas as they are cooking. Remove bananas from pan to a serving dish. Bring sauce to a simmer and carefully add the rum. If the sauce is very hot, the alcohol will flame on its own. If not, using stick flame, carefully ignite and continue cooking until flame dies out, approximately 1 to 2 minutes. If sauce is too thin, cook for 1 to 2 minutes until it is syrupy in consistency. Add orange zest and stir to combine. Immediately spoon the sauce over bananas and serve. Serve with waffles, crepes, or ice cream.

I don’t know about you but the only thing I didn’t have at home was the banana liqueur. I would love to tell you that I went out and bought it and followed the recipe to a tee, but that’s not how I roll. So, I just used some extra rum: no harm, no foul! (PS do NOT use high octane rum! It’s gross!)

So I apologize for the blurry picture. See, I was jiggling the pan to burn off all the rum at the same time I was taking a picture. I’m just lucky I didn’t set my phone on fire, really. Oh! And by the way, you are supposed to take the bananas out of the pan before you add the rum and set it on fire. I didn’t read the instructions very well :-( Other than that, it was very tasty and all you need is a little vanilla ice cream to finish this beauty off. It will feed 4 (or two people for dinner and two people for breakfast, which is the way I prefer it ;-) ) Did I mention this takes like 10 minutes to make?

Watch out for Pt. 2 of this post where I talk about Peach Melba!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Not feeling this. . .something's gotta give

I am really not feeling into blogging myself this week. And that's sad because I have a surplus of things to blog about that are pretty much already written. I don't feel like this blog is going in the direction I want it to and I find that I am becoming more and more attracted to home improvement blogs than foodie blogs, which is not to say I still look forward everyday to seeing if Pioneer Woman has posted a new recipe to try.

And now for your regularly scheduled programming:

Speaking of Pioneer Woman. . .

So the other night, we made the beer braised beef with onions (recipe here: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2010/08/beer-braised-beef-with-onions/). I added some other veggies to the roast (snow peas, celery, and carrots because I can—and they were in my fridge and needed eating).

Additionally, we made THE bread (Oh my goodness the butter: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2010/09/the-bread/) and crash hot potatoes (http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2008/06/crash-hot-potatoes/). I substituted dill for the rosemary because I love dill. And I added some sour cream (well a lot of sour cream).

Lastly, my stepson made the monkey bread (http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2009/05/monkey-bread/) all on his own. It was amazing . . . I was so proud . . . it was gone by Sunday morning.

PS No monkeys were harmed in the making of this dinner

Question: I have a really nice camera (Sony DSC H7. . . its like an SLR with training wheels) that I would love to start lugging around with me to take pictures. Buuuuut where do I carry it? Its much bigger than I am used to (my phone camera) and its no point n shoot size. Where / what should I be carrying it in?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mac n Cheese Quest Continues

So this post will be pretty text heavy. Sometimes I get hungry and forget to take pictures. Especially when there is something really tantalizing in front of me: like Mac n cheese.

1) Panera Break – Signature Mac n Cheese was fantastic! It is made with these cute little twisty elbow macaroni and Vermont white cheddar. Go for a cup! The bowl is enough for two! My only complaint: I love my food screaming hot (hot enough where you put in your mouth and have to and realize your mistake, burn your tongue, and blow in and out through your mouth to try and cool it down so you can actually chew). It hurts so good! Panera serves their Mac n cheese lukewarm and I sneak it over to the microwave by the coffee to make it hotter.

2) Daily Eats – Daily Eats Mac and 3 Cheeser was OK. That’s the best I can give it. I was disappointed because it tastes just like velveta shells and cheese and I can buy a box and just make it at home for way cheaper than they sell it. :( I WILL be back for their flavored Mac n Cheese but I need to keep in mind that the flavored varieties only are served at 5 PM.

3) Datz - Bacon Mac n Cheesiest. Was this on my list? I can't remember but if it wasn't it should be! I got the chance to finally try Datz mac and cheese creation the other day and I don't have anything bad to say about it. It wasn't the BEST mac n cheese I have tried, but it wasn't horrible. It was very. . . baccony flavored. Would I order it again? Probably not (and that is saying something); I just wan't impressed with the flavor. I am not sure what cheese they use but it was very bland and I had to add salt and pepper to the mac n cheese which I normally dont need to do. What's really sad about this whole experience for me is that they have a lunch class in which they teach you how to make 3 difference types of mac n cheese and they are all better than the one they have on their menu.

Want to keep track of my quest list? Have a Mac n Cheese dish to add? Go to my original Mac n Cheese Quest post here: http://nealesa.blogspot.com/2010/08/we-interrupt-your-regularly-scheduled.html

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pumpkin Ale Bread. . . I have to share. . .

in hopes that someone will make it for me! I am not quite a baker yet.

Anyway, found this recipe through Slashfood.com and I believe it originated somewhere on the Samual Adams website, but I couldn't find the link.

Photo Credit: Samual Adams

Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale Bread

Recipe created by Carlene O'Garro for Samuel Adams Brewing.

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup canola oil

2 large eggs

1 cup Harvest Pumpkin Ale purée (directions below)

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

Powdered sugar (for dusting)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the sugar and oil in a mixing bowl using an electric mixer with paddle attachment on medium speed. Slowly add the eggs.

Stop the mixer and add the Harvest Pumpkin Ale purée (directions below).

Turn mixer to low-medium speed and leave it running for 4-5 minutes. In a separate bowl, combine all the dry ingredients.

Stop the mixer and add the dry ingredients. Mix for 1 minute at low speed or until all the ingredients are mixed together.

Pour the mixture into a greased 9-by-5-inch loaf pan, leaving room at top of pan for bread to rise.

Bake for 60 minutes. Check bread by sticking the center with a knife (when the knife comes out clean, remove from the oven). If needed, bake for another 5-8 minutes or until knife comes out clean.

Once the bread has fully cooled, finish with a light dusting of powder sugar. Serves 8.

Per serving: 434 calories; 15 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat; 31 percent calories from fat); 70 g carbohydrates; 53 mg cholesterol; 492 mg sodium; 5 g protein; 2 g fiber.

Pumpkin Ale Puree

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 bottle Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Combine all the ingredients and stir slowly. Set aside until ready to use.

What are some other good fall recipes you can think of?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Thai Temple

This past Sunday, the husband who shall henceforth be renamed invisible husband (inside joke), my friend Mandy and I went to the Thai Buddhist Temple in South Tam. . . South. . . near. . . well, OK, its not south Tampa its more like in between Brandon and Ybor off of 301 (where you probably think the Tampa Bay would be, but there is land there).

Anyway, the Thai Temple is located in the Palm River section of Tampa and is open to the public on Sundays from about 11 am to 2 pm.

I had the pleasure of finding this little gem thought one of my coworkers almost a year ago. Every Sunday they serve up homemade Thai food for donations to the temple. The food is phenomenal! and I promise that I will start taking more pictures with a better camera!

This is their tasty Thai (ramen style) soup. We just learned this weekend that you can order in "small" "medium" and "large" which doesn't mean size, it means noodle size. Silly us have been ordering the "small" thinking that we couldn't eat more than a bowl this size!Friends and Family! I would like to direct you to the first picture of food in this blog. See that whitish ball of something? It has been a year but I finally discovered just today what that is! We have been debating it for quite a while and I am pleased to finally be able to say that I not only know what it is, but that it is quite tasty. That my friends is a FISH MEATBALL!

They also have pad Thai, and tons of curries just to name some of their savory dishes. I recommend their curried pumpkin! Did I mention the meat on a stick? Cant go wrong with meat on a stick!

Of course they have Thai tea (for $1). I like to sit in front of the Thai tea lady and order one and finish it in front of her and order a refill. It makes me happy :)

As you can see I LOVE thai Tea

The Thai people love their sweets as well. They have a huge table devoted to their desserts and we are making it a personal goal to try everyone. . . unfortunately we are not making it a personal goal to take a picture of everyone :( so I leave you with a pic of my friend Mandy (cuz shes a sweety!)
Seriously though, we have tried their tapioca, their coconut puddings, their black sticky rice with mango (yum), and my personal favorite their black sticky rice with custard on top. I have been known to drive to the Thai Temple just to get that dessert. This last time we tried their pumpkin custard. It was really bland :/

There's another station that just fries up yucca banana and other yummies. Those were good but not worth the 1 hour wait.

Overall, I would really recommend this tasty Tampa treasure to anyone who enjoys Thai food. It is tasty and very cheap. I think 3 of us spend less than $30 for our lunches with plenty for another lunch or two later this week.

Any other Tampa gems  I need to discover? Come on! I know you can think of at least one!!!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Lonnie’s Deli WHY DO YOU HAUNT ME!

This is the perfection known to us commoners as Ron’s Sunny Bird. It is a concoction of turkey, bean sprouts, French dressing, and sunflower cream cheese served on their daily made wild rice bread. It sounds gross, but I promise. . .NO! I GURANTEE that you will eat the first half, groan in ecstasy and realize you’re full. Then about two hours later you will hear this small muffled voice that appears to be coming from the Styrofoam sandwich container, “Hey! , why haven’t you eaten me? I’m so lonely! Eat me! Eat me! I’m super tasty!”

And like that, you will swim out of unconsciousness to find that the last bite of the second half of the sandwich is going into your mouth. Because the sandwich is magical like that! Oh god, I think I’m having withdrawals. . .

Can you think of a food that sounds gross in concept but was fabulous when you ate it?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Falling in love with a woman from Oklahoma

Recently, I found this blog called the Pioneer Woman. It’s a woman from Oklahoma who lives on a cattle ranch with her husband, four kids, and a gaggle of farm animals (a gaggle? Is there a better word?) Anyway, I found her blog through another blog I was reading where the blogger featured Pioneer Woman’s HOMEMADE cinnamon roll recipe (drool) and while I feel that is too advanced for my cooking skills right now (and my kitchen is too small) she has some other great recipes that I have started to try.

Last Friday I took my 11 year old step son grocery shopping and we cooked  Pasta alla Betsy together. (Recipe here)
I was not only surprisingly easy (an 11 year old could do it, with my help) it was amazingly tasty! So tasty in fact, that I forgot to take a picture of it! . . . It looked just like hers though . . . true story.
Last night we tried her Steak Bites (Recipe here) and man oh man were they good! I added mushroom pieces to mine though and we paired it with some sour cream and dill (purple) mashed potatoes. I saw these beauties in the grocery story over the weekend and while they were a bit pricey, I wanted to try them out.

Word to the wise, the purple potatoes were a bit starchier than a normal potato. This led me to add a bit more milk, butter, and salt than I normally would as a result.

Next we are going to try her Beer Braised Beef with Onions (I'm getting fat. Recipe here) and her Homemade Chicken and Noodles (I can't fit into my pants but I'm making this this week)

What are some of your favorite chefs/cookbooks?

PS I want her cookbook for Christmas, kay?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Beer Beer Beer Beer Beer Beer Beer

. . . I love beer. More than liquor, more than wine. Does that make me coarse? Unrefined?

Well. I don’t care! I am a proud card carrying member to not one but THREE beer clubs in the Tampa Bay Area. I started one with my best friend in 2006 and a year and a half later I finished the “tour” of 110 different beers. #1 Old Chicago:

That was fun! They put my name on a wall for being a drunk! So I thought I would start it over.
But that’s not enough . . . we (husband and I) have also joined Mello Mushroom’s beer club and this lovely little place we have in Tampa called World of Beer. Their tour is 500 beers! We are about 10 in. Can’t wait for that one to finish!

Moreover, I love taking pictures of my beer.

I’m not sure why. . .

Its an arrow in my beer!

I am NOT a drunk! Seriously, beer clubs are a great way to explore new beer brands and tastes and have allowed me to fall in love with some favorites that I would never have thought to try otherwise! Some of m favorite beers are: Highlands’s cold mountain winter ale (seasonal), Anderson valley winter solstice ale (seasonal), anchor brewing Co. Anchor Steam Christmas ale (seasonal), Blackthorn Hard Cider, and Lost Coast Apricot Wheat Ale. All very tasty. The first three are full of spicy flavor (cinnamon and nutmeg) and taste like you are drinking a pumpkin pie. The last two are more fruity: the cider actually tastes like apple juice (with a kick) and the apricot wheat tastes like apricots.

One more!

What are some of your favorite brews/drinks(alcoholic and non alcoholic)?

Monday, September 13, 2010

A day in the life of my neurotic mind. . .WARNING! Insane ramblings inside!

I LOVE grocery shopping. LOVE LOVE LOVE it. I love seeing/smelling/touching all that fresh produce, finding a new ice cream flavor or cheese to try. I am also not a grocery store snob. My favorite bread is at sweetbay, but my favorite watermelon is a publix etc. (it is a house divided :(  )
Yesterday’s dinner conversation (in my head) went like this. Ohhhhh! My coworker had pasta with tomato sauce and zucchini (hes so healthy, I’m so jealous). I want that for dinner!

OK. I am going to need zucchini. I will go to the grocery store! So I went to the grocery store and bought zucchini (actually Italian squash because it looks like zucchini and who the hell can tell the difference besides I couldn’t find the zucchini anyway)…aaaaannnnd hot dogs, hot dog buns, a watermelon (because its healthy!), cheese, more cheese, bologna, and ready in a box appetizers (because you never know when someone’s going to pop by!). Are all women as insane as I am when it comes to shopping? I went for frickin’ zucchini and frankly I didn’t get my damned zucchini. And I spend $40.

But back to food, because that’s what I’m always thinking about anyway. I was thinking. . . “Oh! I could put a spin on boring old spaghetti and tomato sauce! I could use canned tomatoes and roughly chop them, add some garlic and voila! . . . or I could buy fresh tomatoes and roughly chop them, add some garlic and voila! Canned tomatoes? Or fresh? Canned or fresh??! Canned have more lycopene (better for you), but I like the texture of fresh and I wouldn’t want an all squishy of the canned tomatoes and squishy zucchini (Italian squash). As you can see from the grocery list above I opted not to buy tomatoes. Because I think I will try this reciepe sometime in the near future with canned tomatoes. I will call it Des pates d’ete (summer pasta in French. . .it sounds more sophisticated in French). Notice I said sometime in the near future? I mean hopefully before the zucchini (Italian squash!) rots in my fridge.. . . because a lot of fresh produce rots in my fridge. . because we didn’t eat the pasta I went to the grocery store to prepare for. . .

So you ask? What did we do for dinner?

We had Chinese. (Yes, that’s my cat eating my fried rice)

Pee eeS

What the hell Publix???

Friday, September 10, 2010

Horray for Hummus

Funny story about hummus. First year in grad school I took a soils class on the recommendation of a colleague. She said that the teacher was amazing and I would love it. I did love it, but that’s not the point of the story. Point of the story is soil is made up of layers. Every layer has a name and an associated initial and they ALWAYS go in the order of depth. It goes something like this:

Sooooo. We are in class (either the first or second night) and the teacher asks does anyone know what the top layer of soil is called? Being the studious little girl I am and having read the material before class, I eagerly raise my hand and shout, “It’s hummus!” To which my teacher raises his eyebrow at me and says, “Nooooo. It’s humus (hugh-mous). Boy was I embarrassed.

Well. The other day my coworker made homemade hummus and brought it into the office and I was impressed. When I found out how easy it was (according to him) to make it, I had to try it for myself that night.


2 cans chickpeas (drained and rinsed)

Juice of one lemon (throw in some zest if you got it) approx ¼ cup

1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste, intenational food isle)

¼ cup olive oil

1 TBS cumin

½ tsp of salt

1/8 tsp of pepper

7 (!) cloves of garlic minced (3 if you’re a wuss)

Water for thinning


Combine the chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini. . .EVERYTHING into a huge honking bowl (except the water!) and combine with your stick blender. My husband and I added the 3 cloves of garlic the recipe called for but we didn’t think that was enough, so we added more 2 at a time until we liked the taste. When everything is combined, it will be really thick. I mean REALLY thick, as in oh shit! Did we do something wrong? It smells like hummus, it tastes like hummus, but it don’t look like hummus. That’s when you slooooowly add a little water at a time to thin it out; some recipes call for the juice from the canned chickpeas, but frankly, that just grosses me out, so we used water. Next time, I am thinking of adding a liquid with more flavor (like chicken or vegetable stock premade from the grocery). All in all, I think we added a little over 1/3 cup water, but I have a feeling that will probably change from recipe to recipe.

Pretzels and hummus? Deeeelicious. . . . I had some carrot chips in the fridge from something else and I picked up this naan (Indian flat bread) from the publix deli.

I don’t know why I was ever intimidated by making hummus. The only strenuous part is using the stick blender to get a smoother consistency (my coworker used a food processor and his hummus was kinda grainy). It will never be as smooth as store bought hummus because the research I did on the internets suggested that hummus manufacturers actually use chickpea flour instead, but think about all the preservatives and additives you are avoiding by making your own!

And I don’t know about you but I keep everything for this recipe in my house on a regular basis but the tahini paste.

I also discovered, by chance a really tasty variation that involves ingredients used to make chili (chili beans, green bell pepper, tomato, corn, chili seasoning, secret ingredient (worchestershire sauce), and tahini), no oil needed, the veggies provide enough moisture.

Combine all that and add a healty scoop of cheese and sour cream and you're set!

What else can be falsely intimidating to make? ;)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Dragon*Con 2010

Thinking back on my past experiences with Draong*Con, I am reminded how great it was when it was just a girl's weekend and how last year we had 7 friends essentially staying in the same hotel room on and off.

This year has been so low key. I managed to take the entire week off and had some extra quality time with my best friend who moved to Atlanta a few years ago. We have serriously eaten our way though Atlanta. We went to 2 nationwide famous burger joints, had some amazing barbecue, and some great homemade italian. Not to mention the mexican a few nights ago with the cheap pitchers or margaritas. And Dragon*Con hasn't even started yet.

I do miss everyone and I wish they were here to have fun and relax with me. I hope they can make it next year.

. . . Pictures to follow (or see them now on FB).


PS Did I mention the hour long foot and leg massage? No? :D It was awesome

Monday, August 23, 2010

Mac n Cheese Quest Begins!

Starting off on my quest took me to South Tampa to a little place called the Lodge. I came for the Mac n Cheese but I fell in love with their American Sushi. Ohhhhh Boy!

I ordered the BBQ Mac n Cheese (TV Dinner style) and my husband tried their Hillsburger Sushi roll.

First things first, the BBQ Mac n Cheese was good! but not my style. My side items were their sweet potato French fries drizzled with honey and powdered sugar (soooo yum), broccoli (tasted smoky, didn't care for it), and a mallow brownie (soggy).

The sushi roll, the Hillsburger to be exact, was something else entirely. Who was the genius that said I'm going to take some classic food tastes and roll them in rice? Brilliant! The Hillsbuger was hamburger meat, bacon, and onions rolled into a rice sushi shape with a creamy (Velveeta consistency) cheese sauce for dipping. WOW! I craved this so hard that night I made my husband take me back the next day.

Would you look at that food porn! The ewwy gooey cheese sensuously clinging to the rice, but just melty enough to teasingly drip off the bottom. Mmmmmmmmmmm……………..

The very next day we ordered the Hillsburger, the Fiery Buddha, Biggy Piggy, and Rollin' Buffalo. I can't be as exact with the ingredients on these but the fiery Buddha was essentially steak and mushrooms; the biggy piggy was essentially mojo pork Cuban-esque; and the Rollin' buffalo was boneless buffalo hot wings complete with celery and a bleu cheese dipping sauce.

The waitress we had on Saturday was phenomenal. If I wasn't so bad with names I would give her a shout out here. She bent over backwards to make sure we were having a great time and had everything we needed. The waitress Sunday was a little ditzy but at least we were taken care of.

Over all, I really enjoyed this place and I will definitely be craving that sushi something soon!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming for this announcement. . .

The Mac 'n Cheese Challege!

I have decided to go on a quest! I saw this great article linked on Facebook about the Best Macaroni and Cheese of Tampa Bay and I have decided to try them all.

Link to Mac n Cheese Article here

1. Smoke Barbeque & Grill - Classic Macaroni nCheese
2. Bern's Steak House - White Truffle Macaroni n Cheese
3. Beak's Old Florida - Smack-N-Cheese
4. Cassis American Brasserie - Mac n Cheese
5. The View at CK's - Shrimp Mac-N-Cheese
6. Hamburger Mary's - Mary's Mac n Cheese Wedges
7. Fleming's Prime Steakhouse - Chipotle Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese
8. Daily Eats - DE Mac and 3-Cheeser
9. Daily Eats - Baja Mac
10. Panera Bread - Signature Macaroni and Cheese
11. Munchies 4:20 Cafe - The Fat Sandy
12. The Lodge - Burger Mac-N-Cheese
13. The Lodge - BBQ Chicken Mac-N-Cheese
14. The Lodge - Mac-N-Cheese Pizza
15. Datz Deli - Datz Mac-N-Cheesiest

I will cross them off this list as I try them. First up: the Lodge! Should I have their Mac n Cheese pizza or their Barbecue Mac n Cheese?

Can you think of any awesome Mac n Cheese in the Tampa Bay Area that needs to be added to this list?

I have come up with these additional Mac n Cheese additions so far:
16. Fly Bar - Mac n Cheese with truffle oil
17. Hamburger Mary's - Mac n Cheese Burger

Monday, August 16, 2010

Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese

Does anyone else make tomato soup just so you have something to dip your grilled cheese in?

Wow, I do. I would like to start off by saying, I love to make large batches of things and freeze them for future meals. I actually made this tomato soup a few months ago but I froze the rest of it and had it for dinner the other night with a bastardized grilled cheese.

My poor husband hates the way I make grilled cheese and I’m pretty sure he’s none too happy about my tomato soup. I think is mantra is why mess with the classics. I say its all about the flavor and I want a bit more flavor than 2 slices of white bread, some kraft singles, some butter and a can of Campbell’s tomato soup can offer.


Et voila!

What you can’t see here is the mustard and sliced tomato in my grilled cheese. So yum! So other than that its still white bread, some kraft singles, and some butter, but at least the fresh crunch of tomato adds a bit of texture and mustard and cheese is a combination not unlike PB&J.

The tomato soup was actually easy to make because I’m lazy. If I didn’t think Sandra Lee from Semi-Homemade on the Food Network was a bit of a lush, I would love her program because I totally cook like she does.

The tomato soup was a can of Healthy Choice Tomato Basil soup, the other half of my fresh tomato from my sandwich (cubed), mozzarella (cubed), and minced garlic. By the time the soups is heated all the way through on the stovetop, the fresh tomato is still crisp and the mozerlla is soft and melty (I totally stole the mozerella idea from a deli in downtown Tampa called the Loading Dock).

Anyway, as you can see from the picture it is a yummy dinner and makes great left overs. There’s always a ton of soup left over because as I stated above I don’t actually eat the soup, I just use it as a dipping sauce for my grilled cheese.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Eddie and Sam's NY Style Pizza

Since the last bog wasn't really about food, I need to get back on task! I had lunch today at Eddie and Sam's New York Pizza(downtown Tampa).

 I eat here about once a month and I really love their pizza. I can't attest to it being just like NY pizza because I've never had NY pizza, but this place makes some amazing fresh pizza! They have a great atmosphere, and a great lunch special ( 2 cheese slicess and a drink for 5.99). My only suggestion here is to eat it in the store. Their fresh out of the oven pizza is a amazing, if you let it cool it is sub-par at best. Also, try their garlic knots(so yum)!

Cleaning the house

I HATE cleaning the house. I don’t have time to clean the house. I work 40-50 hours a week at a startup company with 5 (total) employees and we work our tushies off to make sure that our business is successful.

Shit really hit the fan right after hubs and I got married. We have all these wonderful gifts but no where to put them. So they piled up in our now useless dining room and the living room became writing central for all the thank you notes (which took exactly 3 months. Thank you, please drive through).

I was feeling so overwhelmed and didn’t even know where to start when I read my friend’s blog at Kibble n' Dribble. I have no idea if she knows I even read it, but it’s cute and I love hearing about her growing family. So in this post she talks about FLYing and I decided to check it out. I started FLYing on June 24th by shining my sink, and I have been hooked ever since. It’s such a load off my mind to do something small every day (usually no more than 15 minutes a day) and slowly watch my house transform into a home, a CLEAN home. You would be amazed at what you can do in 15 minutes: and it really is 15 minutes, the website recommends that you time yourself and stop when the timer is up.
You plan your weekly chores ahead of time and concentrate on one zone of your house at a time. The website says you can have your home pretty clean in 3 months and, being in month 2 I agree with them! My toilets, showers, mirrors, carpets, sinks, and bed are cleaner now than they have ever been in my entire life. The point is not to wait until this stuff gets dirty and overwhelm yourself with cleaning the entire house. That makes you hate cleaning and avoid it.
The other night, per flylady’s suggestions, I cleaned the top of my fridge (took like 15 minutes!). Let me point out, that since I have lived with my husband, the top of the fridge has NEVER been cleaned . . . and now it is. The shit that accumulated (papers, receipts, grill lighter, JUNK) has been removed and now I have a very attractive place for my husband’s bouncy ball collection and the clock I bought him for his birthday/father’s day present.
It’s all about baby steps and I recommend that you check this program out, if you have ever felt overwhelmed with cleaning the house. Do I do everything the website recommends? No! I am not a sheep! But I tailor it to my cleaning needs. It means my sink isn’t shiny every day, but its CLEAN.

It’s not necessarily a woman’s job anymore to clean the entire house, but someone has to show initiative and start cleaning and show pride in one’s home. I promise the rest of your family members will follow. How do I know? Last weekend, my husband took apart our dryer and cleaned all the parts and vacuumed out the laundry area ON HIS OWN!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Learning to Cook and Food: Bastardized

I think learning to cook is important. That’s why I love my favorite restaurant Datz. They have lunch time classes where you not only get to enjoy some great food and wine, but you learn how to cook what you’re eating while getting to try some ingredients that you may not be courageous to try on your own.

The lunchbox theme was tacos and I had a great time with Chef Nikki watching her make these delectable treat.

First course was a Baja shrimp taco with a spicy slaw and crema sauce. It was fantastic! The shrimp were fried, crispy, and juicy, and this definitely looks like something I could make at home.

Next we had a Korean BBQ taco (Koji). As you can tell, it was really juicy with pulled and chopped pork in an asian marinade bastardized with some more of the spicy slaw and crema sauce.

It was so good! We had a beautiful Shiraz with the taco and for dessert. . .

BEER MILKSHAKE!!! So about the beer milkshake. It was made with a chocolate stout, and typical milkshake ingredients. It was good and it wasn’t. It was definitely interesting. My first thought was “Ew! Gross!. . . wait, I need another taste. . .ew! Gross. . .wait. . . “ until I was half way through the milkshake.

It was also Chef Niki’s friend’s birthday and Chef Niki had this cake make for her especially. It was really neat knowing that the cake was completely unique and isn’t something that you can just come in off the street and order.

Overall, it was a great day for learning how to make unique tacos and I can’t wait to try some of these recipes at home!

That being said, after learning to cook, more important is learning how to make a recipe your own. I will not go out to by sesame oil if I am only going to use it once in my kitchen. Sitting in these lunch classes has taught me to imagine create alternatives. Chef Nikki used a great mango lime tequila marinate on the cabbage today, but my first thought was (well after I thought “I am so making this at home!”) I think this would taste great with the sesame ginger dressing I already have at home (hopefully it will ;-) ) But food should be about exploration and learning to recognize what flavors pair well. I think I am getting comfortable with the idea of bastardizing my recipes. . .