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

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. . .