Thursday, December 16, 2010

3 Things to do in Celebration


Taking a stroll around the Town Center in Celebration is one of my favorite things to do in Orlando. It's even better during the holidays and is a great way to get into the Christmas spirit. While you're there, make sure you check out three fun things to do in Celebration:

1. Enjoy the Snowfall. That's right folks, it snows nightly in Celebration. Through Friday December 31st, you can enjoy and experience the holiday season in a unique way in Orlando. Snow falls in the Celebration Town Center at the top of the hour between 6pm and 9pm. You can also enjoy other seasonal festivities such as Ice Skating, Horse and Carriage Rides, Photos with Santa and Train Rides for the kiddies.
  • Ice Skating: $10 for a minimum of 1/2 hour (Skates included) 4pm -10pm daily
  • Horse and Carriage Rides: $25 for the first two passengers, $10 per additional
  • Horse and Carriage Holiday Home Tour $25 per person
  • Train Rides: $5
  • Singing along with the Charles Dickens Carolers: Free
2. Enjoy dinner at Seito Sushi. Seito is a local chain with four locations across Orlando and is at the top of my list for sushi in Orlando. Amidst a hip yet comfortable setting, they have a wide variety of gourmet rolls that will kick start your taste buds. Try some of my favorites: Torchamaki (spicy crawfish and asparagus topped with white fish and "torched"), Sweetheart (Coconut Shrimp topped with crab and a sweet coconut sauce) and the Lava (California roll topped with baked Scallops and a creamy Masago sauce).

3. Have a glass of wine at Imperium Food and Wine. Located on Market Street in the Town Center, this is officially my favorite spot in Celebration. The quaint wine bar has prime outdoor seating for people watching and snow fall. Enjoy a fun assortment of wines and well as food items such as flatbreads, paninis, salads and wraps.

While enjoying your time in Celebration, don't forget to do one of the basics: relax and enjoy yourself. If you're staying one of the nearby local hotels such as Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa Orlando, head on over to enjoy the holiday celebration...and the Carolers!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

3 Thanksgiving Buffets in Orlando

Hooray! My favorite time of the year is just around the corner! Thanksgiving marks the time when all things are good. Starting with that perfect bite: turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing a gravy and ending with holiday cookies and the smell of all things Christmas. If you're visiting Orlando for the holiday or a local just looking for a place to have a nice meal, here are three suggestions to get out and about on the infamous turkey day.

1. Islands Dining Room at Universal's Royal Pacific Resort-a Lowes Hotel. The resort itself is a prime example of vacation luxury. The South seas exotic theme leads to that perfect feeling of zen that we are all looking for while traveling. The large, Indonesian style Islands Dining Room will provide the perfect backdrop for a festive Thanksgiving buffet. Traditional turkey meals will be offered as well as the all time favorite prime rib. There will also be a variety of food stations including: sushi, stir fry, omelet and waffle (until 2pm). Besides the food you can enjoy live music, hula dancers, face painting for the kids and the chance to get up close to some Universal characters.
Hours:
11am - 8pm
Price:
$43.95 for adults with Champagne included
$17.95 for kids 12 and under, kids under 3 are free

2. The Vineyard Grill at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes. This Orlando resort is the ultimate example of upscale bliss. The hotel, spa, pools and all surrounding property are absolutely breathtaking. You can enjoy what will be a delicious buffet at their Vineyard Grill located in the heart of the plush surroundings that are already adorned in Christmas decor. Traditional Thanksgiving fare will be offered in addition to breakfast and carving stations.
Hours:
12pm-8pm
Price:
$89 for adults
$39 for children

3. Capriccio Champagne Brunch at The Peabody Orlando. This resort has recently completed massive renovations that solidify it's standing as one of the top resorts in Orlando. I've taken a peek at their menu for their Thanksgiving buffet and was very impressed by the variety of options! Breakfast items and assorted brick oven pizzas join the list of Thanksgiving proteins such as turkey, prime rib and ham. A wide assortment of sides and desserts wrap up this list. Do me a favor, if you choose this buffet, try the butternut squash with parsnips, beets and truffled honey and let me know how it is!
Hours:
11am-4pm
Price:
$59.50 for adults
$25 for children 6-12, kids under 5 free

So head out, eat some good food and have fun! And most importantly, make sure you get that perfect bite!

*Reservations are required at all of these locations. Prices and hours are subject to change.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Imperium Food and Wine

I'm not gonna lie. I don't exactly make it out to Celebration too often. In fact, every time I do swing by that part of town, I'm always amazed as to how I actually got there. If you asked for directions right now, I'm not even sure that I could point to Celebration on a map. Point being, I had a nice surprise last week when I stopped by Imperium Food and Wine for a quick midweek meal.

The restaurant is spacious and relaxed but we took advange of the outside seating to enjoy the weather. The wine list was impressive, organized in my preferred price by the glass listing. I went for the classic inexpensive Wrongo Dongo-a Monastrell from Spain. (Remember, a very wise woman once told me, "You can't go Wrongo with the Dongo!")


The food menu has a wide variety of options from flatbreads to paninis and wraps. We started with two soups: the Tomato Basil -rich and creamy with just the right amount of spices and the Potato Leek which was thick and hearty (and I believe homemade!) on a cool evening. We also shared two half orders of flatbreads: The Thai Shrimp and the "Aloha". The shrimp flatbread was fantastic with it's crunchy Napa cabbage and (almost too) spicy peanut sauce. The Aloha with it's thinly sliced ham, pineapple and sweet red pepper sauce was delicious.

I'm sure I'll be back to Imperium Food and Wine at some point to enjoy a nice glass of wine and a bite to eat. Probably the next time I'm lost in Celebration, of course.




Imperium Food & Wine on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Winter Park Harvest Festival

Looking for something to do on Saturday? Head out and support local fare at the first annual Winter Park Harvest Festival. The day is chock full of activites and seminars as well as gardening and cooking demos. The festivities will be capped off with a farm to table dinner-5 courses with food provided by Luma, Ravenous Pig, K Restaurant, Mi Tomatina and Big Wheel Provisions among others.


I actually went to high school with the founder of this event, John Rife, which proves that this is truely all about the hometown. For his benefit and mine, I won't say what year we graduated.


You can get more info here.


Oh, and don't forget, Happy Beujolais Nouveau day!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Looking for your 15 minutes of fame?

Alright friends in Orlando, if you've been itching to get out there and make a fool out of yourself on television, you might have your chance. Two cooking reality shows are holding open casting calls in the next few weeks in our City Beautiful. Check them out if you're interested, but please do not tell them I sent you!

24 hour Restaurant Battle Open Call in Orlando Sunday November 14th.

Master Chef Season 2 Open Call in Orlando on Saturday November 20th.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Roasted Butternut Squash Puree


Yeah, whatever, I know it looks like baby food. But it tastes really good. Rich and flavorful, this is a great healthy side dish. I think I may actually serve it at Thanksgiving as a dip. Plus, I'm ready to turn my squash addiction from the summer varieties to those of fall!

The Plan
Chop and Roast veggies. Puree.

The Ingredients
1 medium Butternut Squash, peeled and cubed*
1 Onion, rough chopped
2 cloves Garlic, smashed
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp fresh Sage, minced
1/2 cup plain Greek Yogurt
1/4 tsp powdered Ginger
1/4 tsp powdered Cinnamon
Salt and Pepper

The Method
Preheat oven to 375F.

Place Squash, Onion and Garlic on a sheet pan. Drizzle Olive Oil and Sage over the veggies. Throw on a pinch of Salt and Pepper. Toss to coat. Roast for about 20 minutes, or until tender.

Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes. Place veggies, Yogurt, Ginger and Cinnamon in a food processor. Puree until mixture has, well, turned into a puree. Your choice, you can leave it a bit chunky or continue pureeing until smooth. Salt and Pepper to taste.

*Don't be intimidated by the Squash. I know it looks a bit scary. Here's what you do: Cut off the top and bottom. Peel. Slice the neck into disks. Cube. Slice around the bulb area of the squash. You can still use the meat the surrounds the seeds.

**I served this with a Thyme roasted chicken breast.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

3 Things to do in Downtown Orlando on a Sunday Afternoon.

With this fantastic weather we have been having, I started thinking about some of the things I love to do in Orlando. If you're visiting and staying at a resort like the recently revamped Peabody Orlando, take a break from the theme parks and check out part of the local culture. So here's three things that an Orlando native enjoys downtown on a Sunday afternoon!



First, have Brunch at Hue. I've been a fan of this restaurant for quite some time. And it's not just because they have an awesome Bloody Mary Bar to kick start the relaxation on a Sunday. It's a great place to people watch and I've always had fantastic service. The brunch menu has a great variety of options anywhere from traditional sandwiches (my favorite is the Turkey Brie and Brandy Poached Pear Croissant) to fun breakfast items like the three different Scramble platters (go for number 2: ham, spinach and cheddar with the sweet potato mash). But I think my favorite brunch pairing with the Bloody Mary Bar is the Steak and Eggs: Petite Filets, Scrambled Eggs and Tater Tots.


After indulging at brunch, you'll probably get the itch to get up and walk around. So for your second activity, take a walk around Lake Eola and feed the swans. It's a time honored tradition here in the City Beautiful and a great way to enjoy not just the perfect weather, but our fantastic city as well. The walk should take about 20 minutes, and you'll be entertained by not only the wildlife and scenery, but also by some of our locals. Enjoy the strums of guitars or just make fun of the people who dress up their dogs. And carry them around in backpacks.


After your jaunt around the lake, make sure to check out the Orlando Farmer's Market. Open every Sunday from 10am to 4 pm, this is certainly one of the favorite farmer's markets in the state. Because who can resist not just the goods you can purchase here, but also the backdrop? Situated under the enormous oak trees with an urban backdrop, stroll around and check out local produce as well as art, jewelry, plants and food items. And be prepared, because you can also purchase the best and freshest orange juice on the planet. Or you can just sit back, relax and imbibe in the Wine and Beer garden. And then maybe take another walk around the lake!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Rick Bayless in Orlando!

Top Chef Master and one of my personal favorite chefs is heading to Orlando!

Chef Rick Bayless will be hosting a cooking demo and book signing next Sunday October 17th at 2pm at the Macy's at Millenia Mall.

I was lucky enough to eat at Topolobampo years ago and think it's pretty cool that he is now in kahoots with my favorite retail outlet by being part of the Macy's Culinary Council. Chef Bayless will be cooking samples of his trademark Latin cuisine and will be signing his new book, "Fiesta at Rick's". Reservations are recommended but not required.

You can make your ressies by calling 1-800-329-8667 of for more info, click here.

See you there!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Citrus: Eat, Drink and Be Local

Years ago when I was a hipster in my twenties, I lived in an apartment building on Orange Ave, just north of Colonial. The Uptown area was not much to look at then, except for the large bank building that my windows overlooked. It's nice to see the area getting a bit of attention...and I have to admit that I wish Citrus had been open when I lived across the street.

I may have been lying when I told you that I was a hipster, but I'm straight up telling you with truth when I say that I really liked this restaurant.

Citrus, along with HUE and Cityfish, is owned by Urban Life Management Restaurant Group. The Citrus website describes their concept as being "our interpretation of Florida flavors and ideas like fresh, clean, local and independent". Hence the tagline, "Eat, Drink and Be Local". I like their thinking, and even though I don't see too much evidence of local fare on their menu, I guess it's good that they are supporting the cause. The space was really magnificent. Muted tones and eye popping art work adorned the walls. The open space lent that urban downtowny feel. And I'll probably visit again just to sit in the cool bar area and have a drink.


I started off the meal with the Skirt Steak and Cheese Flatbread. The thin and crunchy crust was covered with caramelized onions, Vermont Cheddar, Manchego and a Roquefort cream. Yikes, Urban Flats has a run for it's money with the appetizer. Decadently rich with the cheese and sweet with the onions, this flatbread really worked for me. I also tried a companion's Shrimp and Lobster Fritters. I found the fritters to be average, but they were served with a refreshing mint and pineapple chutney. And, truthfully, I have always enjoyed the odd juxtaposition of a fried item served with a light and fruity item. It really tends to lighten up the heavy fried feel of the other portion of the dish.

Then I did something wild and crazy that I hadn't done in awhile: I ordered pasta. And to tell you the truth, after being pasta free for quite some time, I almost fell out of my chair when I took my first bit of this homemade Chicken Ravioli. The pasta was perfectly cooked and practically melted in my mouth. The menu had described the chicken stuffing as being smoked, but I found it rather bland. Which was really no big deal because the Black Truffle Sauce and hunks of Wild Mushrooms brought the flavor to the table. One warning: this was a huge portion. Be prepared to take some home for lunch the next day!

I finished up my meal with the appropriate Orange Avenue Cake. The not too sweet orange cake was layered and topped with silky smooth cream cheese icing and some mini white chocolate chips. The promised Grand Marnier whipped cream was the big disappointment of the night-I don't think anyone would have served that if they had tasted it in the kitchen. But otherwise I'd highly recommend this dessert....especially to those of us who still have appreciation of the good-ole-fashioned creamsicle. You know, us hipsters.



Citrus Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Weight Watchers Chocolate Chip Cookies

Straight off the WW website, these cookies are AWESOME! Kathleen made some for us last month, and I was really quite impressed with this "diet" dessert recipe!


The Ingredients
2 Tbsp Butter, softened
2 tsp Canola Oil
1/2 cup dark Brown Sugar, packed
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/8 tsp salt
1 large Egg White
3/4 cup Flour
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips



The Method
Preheat oven to 375ºF.

In a medium bowl, cream together butter, oil and sugar. Add vanilla, salt and egg white; mix thoroughly to combine.

In a small bowl, mix together flour and baking soda; stir into batter. Add chocolate chips to batter; stir to distribute evenly throughout.

Drop rounded half-teaspoons of dough onto one or two large nonstick baking sheets, leaving a small amount of space between each cookie. Bake cookies until golden around edges, about 4 to 6 minutes; cool on a wire rack.


Yield: 24 cookies
Points: 1 each

Monday, September 20, 2010

Awkward Service Situations.

On Saturday night my brother and I headed out to a swanky steak house on I Drive to take full advantage of the Magical Dining Month. While the food was great, the rest of the evening left me a bit perplexed. So I think I'm going to start a new series....about awkward servers.

First off, while the ambiance in the restaurant was beautiful, we didn't get to see much of it. We were tucked away in what I called the "kiddie room"-a small space with about eight tables. We sat amongst casually dressed tourists and, yep, you guessed it, the families with children. Why were we seated there? Who knows. Maybe it's because I mentioned the Magical Dining on the Open Table reservation. Maybe it's because we were casually dressed. I felt like I was assigned to the kid's table at Thanksgiving dinner. You know the one I'm talking about. The fold out card table with the plastic tablecloth.

But the odd part really came into play with the server. After delivering our salads, he looked down at his fingers and finding something there, wiped them on the napkin that encased our bread basket. Hmm.

During the wine service, he looked down at his fancy vest and noticed a stain. So he literally brought it up to his nose to smell it. While he was holding our bottle of Atteca Garnacha. (Which, for the record, was fabulous!)

Lastly, my brother and I split the check. Which means that he had two separate credit cards with the same last name. When he returned to our table after running the cards, he asked, "Um are you guys married? Cause I'm kinda confused."

So I guess my point is that even if you are that swanky restaurant that is all about the glitz and glory, there can always be a green piece of meat that can ruin the whole experience. Yep, your food was good and your wine was good. But after that meal I just want to eat in a restaurant that lets me sit at the grown-up's table.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

La Nuova Cucina


The written word almost cannot express how much I enjoyed my meal at La Nuova Cucina. But I'll give it a try anyway.

The Checklist: Not even open for a full year yet, this restaurant really has their act together and meets all of my requirements when looking at restaurants I'd recommend to others. Cool space? Check. Clean? Check. Good service? Check. Decent wine list? Check. Outstanding food? Double Check.

The Space: La Nuova Cucina is located on Sand Lake Road and is pretty much an independently owned and shining gem stuck between a swarm of heavy hitting chain restaurants. My first feeling when I entered the restaurant was that it reminded me of what I envision modern bistros in Italy to look like. The space is small, but it gives more of an intimate feeling rather than a claustrophobic one. Exposed brick and simple art work adorn the walls, and the floor is a rather nice dark wood. Seating is comfortable with detached pillows on each chair. I also caught a glance into the kitchen on my way to the restroom and was impressed by it's organization and what looked to be a clean environment. (And, for the record, I loved the wallpaper in the ladies room!)


The Food: But beyond the ambiance, I immediately felt comfortable and welcomed. Diners are served with complimentary Amuse Bouche between courses, that are described by servers as Gifts from the Chef. So we started our meal not only with the yummy herb biscuits, but also with their version of Caprese Salad: One bite of cherry tomato, goat cheese and a small dollop of pesto.


I enjoyed the Arancini for my appetizer-small fried rice balls that were filled with melted Mozzarella cheese. What really made the dish for me was the sweet yet tangy roasted red pepper sauce. It complimented the Arancini perfectly. After our appetizers we were treated to another Gift from the Chef-thinly sliced cold zucchini rolled around a ricotta, shrimp and dill salad. It was absolutely fantastic.


I went a bit over the top and ordered the Gnocchi al Emmenthal E Filet Mignon aka Filet with Gnocchi in an Emmental cheese sauce for my entree. A huge bowl of tender, melt in your mouth gnocchi with a subtle sauce, it was topped with a few slices of fork tender filet. This dish was amazing, and I loved the fun play on steak and mashed potatoes!

Just before our dessert we had our last Gift from the Chef: a small spoonful of berry sorbet with a spritz of a sweet red wine. And when I say spritz, I mean spritz. The server literally sprayed a bit of the wine onto the sorbet with a spritz bottle. I finished off my meal with Pera al Vino Rosso Gelato al Pistacchio-red wine poached pears with pistachio gelato. While not impressed with the pears, this gelato was delicious. Not too sweet with chunks of crunchy pistachios, this is on the list of my favorite ice cream flavors.

The wine list had a worlly variety and was not overly priced. We had a bottle of Vernaccia di San Gimigano-a well balanced and complex white wine hailing from Tuscany. I would like to see a few more white Italian options on the list as three out of the four offered were Pinot Grigio.

I would highly recommend this restaurant to anyone. Families, friends and couples all seemed to be having a great time. It's centrally located on Restaurant Row for the locals. And it you're visiting Orlando, it's close to many fine resorts including the gorgeous Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes.

So, I guess I was able to put my enjoyment of this restaurant into words after all!


La Nuova Cucina Bistro Italiano on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Faux Houston's Chicken and Couscous by Kathleen

This couscous salad is amazing! Perfect for those of use with a little bit of a salty/sweet tooth!


The Plan
Chop.
Boil Water.

The Ingredients
1/4 cup Couscous
1/4 cup Boiling Water
1/8 tsp Chicken Base / Bouillion
1/4 cup Tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/4 cup English Cucumber, diced
1 Shallot, minced
1/2 clove Garlic, minced
1 tbsp Basil, minced
1 tsp Mint, minced
2 tbsp Lemon Juice, freshly squeezed
1/2 oz Golden Raisins
1/4 oz Almonds, Sliced
4 oz Chicken Breast, grilled (pan spray) and sliced on bias
S&P to taste

The Method
Combine water and chix base, stir until dissolved. Pour over couscous. Stir to combine, season. Let stand 5 minutes.

Combine tomatoes, cucumber, shallot, garlic, basil, mint, lemon juice, raisins and almonds. Combine with couscous after its plumped up.

Top with Chicken and pour resting juices over the top!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Oh, how I love September in Orlando.


The food is on! Orlando friends, don't forget to participate in the Magical Dining Month! For an extra bonus, one dollar from each meal sold goes to support the Art and Culture Alliance of Central Florida.


I started the month off by dining with my good friends at Le Coq Au Vin. I started with the Soupe a L'Oignon, enjoyed the Coq Au Vin with a side of Lobster Mac n Cheese for my entree, and finished up with the fantastic Crepe Suzzette.


*I wish I had a nicer picture for you guys...but some jerks broke into my house the other day and took off with a bunch of stuff, including my camera. (And my Boar's Head turkey. Urgh. They went through my fridge.) I wish I was there when they reviewed the pictures on the camera. Beautiful shots of the cupcakes from Blue Bird Bake Shop. Jerks.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Skinny Pot Roast by Michelle


I tried this Pot Roast for the first time after an 11 hour workday and a hard workout. I was literally shaking in my boots before I tried my first bite, and it truely was the perfect hearty meal after a long day.

The Plan
Sear Meat.
Simmer.

The Ingredients
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
48 oz lean Beef Round, trimmed
Salt and Pepper

2 Tbsp Red Wine
3 cups Beef Broth
1 cup Onions, diced
1 cup diced Tomatoes, canned
1 cup Celery, diced
2 cups baby Carrots
1 cup Mushrooms, diced
1 small Portobello Mushroom, diced
1 tsp Thyme, dried
12 small Red Potatoes

1 cup Peas, canned
1 cup Green Beans, cooked

The Method
Season meat with salt and pepper. In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add meat and sear on all sides. Remove and set aside.

Deglaze the pan with red wine. (Fancy cooking term. Translation: While the pan is still hot, add the wine and use it to move around the chunks of meat that are stuck to the bottom of the pan.) Add onions, celery, carrots, and mushrooms and thyme. Cook for about a minute, stiring often. Add tomatoes, potatoes and beef broth. Return beef to the pot. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about 2 hours, or until meat if very tender.

Add cooked peas and green beans. Salt and pepper to taste.

Yield: 16 portions
Points: 4 each

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Skinny on Us Update

I sat down with The Skinny on Us girls over the weekend for a yummy three bottle of wine lunch at Houstons. We laugh, cried, and above all talked about the ups and downs of our new eating lifestyles. Here are some updates and tips.

Michelle raves and recommends to all the wonders of Greek Yogurt. (I couldn't agree more!) Mix one ounce of the yogurt and some powered Ranch dressing mix to make a zero point dip for veggies. Oh, and she's obsessed with Melba toast.

Kathleen is thrilled to be verrrry close to her 10 pound loss for her trip home to the Windy City over Labor Day. And to be wearing a skirt that she hasn't worn since before the first pregnancy!

My tip: Are you hungry enough to eat fruit? If you're on the couch or in front of the computer and feel like snacking, ask yourself this. Trust me, it works. The first time I went with this philosophy, I got my lazy ass off the couch and cut up an orange. And heck if it wasn't the best damn orange I'd ever had. Sweet and juicy, it really brought all this "healthy lifestyle" stuff home. And, as Kathleen would say, No one ever got fat eating fruit.

And if I still feel like snacking after eating fruit, I knit. Homemade dishrag anyone?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Magical Dining Month

Eek. Menus are up and ready.

www.orlandoinfo.com/magicaldining/results/cfm

In case you're in the area and unfamiliar with the only reason to LOVE September in Orlando, the restaurants listed are featuring $30 prix fixe meals for the month.

Here's where I'm thinking about spending my money:
  • Chatham's Place Restaurant
  • La Luce by Donna Scala
  • Norman's
  • Primo by Melissa Kelley

Check out the menus and let me know what you think!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Moon Fish

Umm. Seafood.

Headed out the other night to the area in Orlando with the most upscale restaurants per square foot: Sandlake Road. Aka Restaurant Row. Located just off Universal property, this strip of road is infamous for some good food. And Moon Fish is definitely included.

Owned by the conglomerate Talk of the Town, Moon Fish doesn't fail to, well, be the talk of the town. Swanky and hip without being snooty, this is exactly the atmosphere that works for a restaurant. The seating is comfortable, the music is trendy in that semi-trancy kinda way, and I literally felt like I was transported to a far away vacation spot while I was dining.

One highlight? The happy hour. Monday through Saturday 4:30pm to 6:30pm you can enjoy half price sushi and yummy drink specials. When a friend invited me out to partake in the jolly hour, I was a bit hesitant, because this deal is only good in the bar and lounge. And when we arrived, the bar was full. But the lounge? With the comfy booths? Near empty. Because the lounge area is Huge and located right by the front window. We enjoyed a half price Volcano Roll and a few glasses of $6 Conundrum. The sushi was fantastic; savory and rich and a great way to get our appetites going for a full meal. The wine is one of my favorites. Made from a five major grape varietals (Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Muscat, Viognier and Semillion) each produced with a different vinicultural (wine making) technique, this wine does live up to it's name. If you're looking to waste some time in front of the computer, check out their What's Your Conundrum website where you can look for some advice on major life decisions from some random strangers.

While the full menu included many local seafood options, I went with my favorite: the Chilean Sea bass. And this is where the fun begins. I love restaurants where you get to pick your protein...and then pick your cooking method. I went for the Citrus and Oak Grilled. And it was delicious with the buttery Sea bass. The dish came with Sesame Green Beans and fantastic Scallion Mashed Potatoes. We also got two optional side dishes: Creamed Spinach and Oak Grilled Asparagus. While the Asparagus was tasty and perfectly cooked, the Creamed Spinach really stole the side dish show. Not too creamy and full of mushrooms and Parmesan cheese, this is officially my favorite Creamed Spinach ever. And yes, it's better than mine.

I'd highly recommend Moon Fish for a nice leisurely meal. It's not too far from the downtown metro area, and if you're visiting Orlando, it's only a hop, skip and a jump from the International Drive area and hotels like the Rosen Plaza Hotel.


Moonfish on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Zuchinni Mint Soup with Lemon and Spicy Shirmp


This soup rocks. It's a great summer soup....plus it's *gasp* healthy. It can be a great vegetarian option as well. Just skip the Shrimp and use Veggie Stock instead of Chicken. And for the record, I'm obsessed with Greek Yogurt.

The Plan
Prep Veggies.
Saute Veggies.
Simmer.
Blend

The Ingredients1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Onion, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, chopped
2 lbs Zuchinni, sliced
4 cups Chicken Stock
1 Tbsp fresh Mint, minced
1 Lemon, juiced
1/2 cup fat free Plain Greek style Yogurt
Salt and Pepper to taste

Cooking Spray
1 lb Shrimp, peeled, devained, tail off
Dash of Creole Seasoning

The Method
Coat Shrimp with Creaole Seasoning in a small bowl and marinate for at least ten minutes.

Heat Olive Oil over medium high heat in a large sauce pot. Add Onions and Garlic and cook until fragrant. Throw in the Zuchinni and cook until just soft. Increase heat to high. Add the Chicken Stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about ten minutes.

In small batches, blend the ingredients in a blender until smooth. For the love of everything, be careful as the soup will be hot.

Add Yogurt, Mint, Lemon Juice and mix until combined. Season with Salt and Pepper. The soup is done.

Heat a small saute pan over medium high heat. Coat with cooking spray of your choice. Add Shrimp and cook until done.

Yield: 8 servings
Points: 1 per cup of Soup, 1 per 2 oz Shrimp

Monday, August 9, 2010

Orlando's going Big Time

Shipyard Brewing and Big Wheel Provisions to Open New Location in Winter Park, Florida
Get a Taste of What’s to Come on August 16 at the Audubon Park Community Market

WINTER PARK, FLORIDA (August 9, 2010) – Fred Forsley, president of Shipyard Brewing Company in Portland, Maine, and chef Tony Adams, owner of Big Wheel Provisions in Orlando, Florida, announce plans to open a Shipyard Brew Pub and Big Wheel Provisions marketplace this October.

Located at 200 West Fairbanks Avenue (the former site of Strollo’s Cucino Due), this joint venture will pair the award-winning craft beer of Shipyard Brewing Company with the locavore and artisan food created by Tony Adams of Big Wheel Provisions.

The Shipyard Brew Pub will feature a 28 gallon brewing system. Beer will be brewed on the premises under the direction of accomplished Orlando brewer Ron Raike. Raike will brew small batches of seasonal and unique beers based on his own creativity and ingredient availability. The pub, overseen by Adams, will feature a chef-driven menu created with local, seasonal ingredients.

The Big Wheel Provisions marketplace will feature a regularly revolving selection of deli items, local produce and eggs, artisanal cheeses, hard-to-find specialty food products, cookbooks, food-focused periodicals, and kitchen tools. Alfresco dining, cooking classes, catering, and local delivery service will also be offered.

On Monday, August 16, food lovers are invited to experience a taste of what’s to come at the Audubon Park Community Market, where Big Wheel Provisions first began. People will have the chance to meet Raike, sample award-winning Shipyard beer, check out foods from Big Wheel Provisions, and chat with Adams about this new venture. The Community Market is held in the Stardust Video and Coffee parking lot at 1842 E. Winter Park Road in Orlando from 6:00-10:00pm.

Facebook: Shipyard Brew Pub Winter Park
Twitter: @ShipyardWPark

More about Ron Raike: Raike is a native of Orlando, Florida. He has worked with Shipyard Brewing Company for over 13 years as a brewer and Florida brewery representative. He started brewing over 20 years ago while working on his Masters in Engineering at the University of Central Florida. He is a credentialed beer judge (through the Beer Judge Certification Program) and is a certified Cicerone. He is also a two time Southeast Homebrewer of the Year winner and has been awarded many National Homebrew Competition medals. He is an active member of the Central Florida Home Brewers and has served on the board of the Florida Brewers Guild.

More about Big Wheel Provisions: Big Wheel Provisions is a catering and charcuterie company located in Orlando, Florida and created by Chef Tony Adams. He is a native of Fairfield, Maine and has lived in Orlando for the past seven years. His passion for locally produced food is the driving force behind Big Wheel’s success. All of Big Wheel’s food is made in small amounts by hand. From custom event catering to handmade condiments, pickles, slow simmered stocks, and smoked foods, Big Wheel’s products are all created with fresh, local ingredients and backed by the integrity of Chef Adams. www.bigwheelprovisions.com

More about Shipyard Brewing Company: Shipyard Brewing Company was founded in 1994 by master brewer Alan Pugsley and entrepreneur Fred Forsley on the historic waterfront in Portland, Maine. Shipyard produces 16 varieties of award-winning English style and seasonal beers as well as a full line of hand-crafted Capt’n Eli’s Soda. Florida’s coastal heritage, ties to New England, and growing interest in craft beer makes it a strong market for the Shipyard family of products. www.shipyard.com

CONTACTS:

Tony Adams, Big Wheel Provisions
Orlando, Florida
tony@bigwheelprovisions.com
Tami Kennedy, Shipyard Brewing Company
Portland, Maine
207-838-0816 -- tami@maine.rr.com

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Skinny Chicken Tortilla Soup by Michelle


The Plan
P
rep Veggies.
Make Soup.

The Ingredients
1 Tbsp Veggie Oil
1 cup Onion, chopped
1 clove Garlic, minced
1 cup Red Pepper, minced
3 cobs Corn, Kernals removed
1 Tbsp Chipotle, minced (canned in Adobo sauce)
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
2 cups Chicken Broth
2 cups diced Tomatoes, canned
16 oz Chicken Breast, cooked and shredded
1 Tbsp fresh Lime juice
3 Mission White Corn Tortillas, cut into strips

The Method
Heat Oil in a large Sauce pot over medium high heat. Add Onions and cook until translucent. Add Garlic and cook until it just starts to smell really, really good. Throw in the Red Pepper, Corn, Chile, Cumin, Salt and Pepper. Cook just until the Red Pepper and Corn Kernals get a bit soft, stirring often.

Add the Tomatoes and Chicken Broth. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes.

Remove soup from heat. Add the Chicken and Lime juice. Taste. Add more seasonings if you want. Add Tortilla strips just prior to service.



Tortilla on Foodista

Friday, August 6, 2010

Brio Tuscan Grille

Trivia Question:
Where can you get a good Italian meal, a nice glass of wine, partake in some good people watching and do a little window shopping at some of the swankiest stores in Orlando?

I've been to two different Brio locations in the Orlando area-one at the Village in Winter Park and one in the Mall at Millenia. I think I've officially decided on the Millenia location as being my favorite. Pretty much because the ambiance is, well, perfect in many different aspects. The dining room is large and open but segmented into different dining areas with half walls and a variety of seating options. (My preferred seating is the straight-backed chairs with very comfortable back covers on them.) No matter where you're sitting, you pretty much have the ability to see the entire dining room-there are two extremely large mirrors located on the side wall that not only open up the space, but allow you to see what the diners sitting behind you are eating. The colors are bold yet muted at the same time, and the overall feel reminded me of the movie "Under the Tuscan Sun", which I guess is pretty appropriate. The kitchen is also open and takes up one side of the dining room. And we all know this makes for a fun show.

Probably the highlight of this restaurant is their version of al fresco dining. Don't freak, you're not going to be sitting in the sun when it's 95 degrees and 100 percent humidity. Rather, the restaurant features seating just outside the dining room, in the Mall of Millenia itself. Located just by one of the main entrances of the mall, this is a pretty high foot traffic area. Which makes it perfect for people watching. The small patio area is blocked off with a little half fence, and the large fountain in the mall provides some nice background noise.

We were at Brio for a Sunday brunch treat, and were one of the first tables seated. (And, for the record, the place was hopping when we left about an hour later.) We opted to start with the Roasted Garlic, Spinach and Artichoke Dip. Because apparently I'm in denial about being on a diet. But, maybe the Diets Gods were looking over me-after we placed our order the manager came over and informed us that they were still prepping the dip. And it would be at least 20 minutes before it was ready. So we skipped it. Good for my waistline and wallet. Bad for their profit. All in all, no biggie. Because my entree turned out to be more than I bargained for.

I've been to brunch before at this location and had the Crab and Shrimp Crepes. I knew they were fantastic, yet super rich. So I decided to go for a lighter Crepe option (because crepes are sooo Italian) and ordered the Fruit and Ricotta Crepes. I love Ricotta. And I love Crepes. And I'm trying to be all healthy so I figured the fruit was a good option. And while I loved this entree, it was a bit too sweet. Even for me. The Crepes were filled with a rich Ricotta and topped with not just fruit, but also chunks of buttery Granola and a rich Vanilla Cream Cheese. The overall consistency of this dish was a bit gooey, but the Granola did provide some crunch. So if you need a little bit of sweetness in your brunch, I'd highly recommend this option.

The wine list also provides a nice variety of options. Years ago, this was actually the first restaurant where I saw a Gavi offered, and they have some other obscure Italian options as well. They even have a few Italian Chardonnays-which are relatively new to the market and are the result of serious varietal experimentation. I know, I know, it was brunch. So we didn't have wine. But we did have fresh Bellinis with Prosecco (Italian Bubbles) and peach nectar. Refreshing and absolutely delicious.

In my view, Brio can be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. Located just down the road from Universal Studios property, this restaurant is only a 7 minute drive from the resorts such as Universal's Royal Pacific. So, whether you're a local fighting the crowds over at Ikea on a Saturday, or vacationing and doing some shopping at the Millenia, stop by Brio for a bite. Or maybe just a drink and some people watching.



Brio Tuscan Grille on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Cantina Laredo

Cliff Notes version of this review: Average.

Located just off the infamous Restaurant Row, Cantina Laredo is actually an international chain with locations in the US, UAE and UK. And with this most recent opening, we can add ORL to that list. The space itself is actually quite nice-spacious, calming and clean. (Plus the ladies room has a super cool sink.)

But pretty much everything else was...just kinda average.

Our server? Well, he was very nice and timely but didn't wow me. As we were seated in our booth, I noticed a bowl containing a lime and avocado. I had read that this restaurant offered tableside guac and was looking forward to it. So I was psyched when I saw the avocado decor on the table. But the server didn't mention it or explain why the bowl was there. And then he took the bowl away. At that point, quite frankly, I just kinda forgot about it. Also he did not offer a second round of drinks (for the record, the Mojitos are yummy) or dessert. I know this isn't really something for ME to gripe about. Because the server was actually saving me money. But from a business stand point, this behavior does not make for a successful business.


My food? Again, average. I ordered what I thought was the most interesting item on the menu: the Enchiladas de Avocado. (Heyyyy, maybe I ordered this subconsciously because I never got the guac! That's right! Who used to be a therapist??) My biggest problem with this dish? The lack of avocados. Seriously. The enchiladas were basically stuffed with artichokes. From a can. You know exactly what I'm talking about-that tinny flavor of canned artichokes. The tomatillo sauce on topped was quite nice, but the side of Mango Jicama salad was seriously lacking in the mango department. I think not following through on what they advertised for this dish plus the tinniness of the canned artichokes really ruined it for me.

Here's where it gets sticky. Will I ever return to Cantino Laredo? Probably. Because the cuisine that we lack the most in Orlando is (unfortunately) Mexican. I'm telling you investors: go to Houston, grab a chef from one of the two hundred high quality Mexican restaurants in the area and bring her or him to Orlando. So hopefully one day I'll find a Mexican restaurant in Orlando that is....above average.




Cantina Laredo on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Magical Dining Month

Ladies and Gents, don't panic (like I am).
We'll get through this together.
We have a month to plan the restaurants we want to dine at during September.
The Magical Dining Month is almost upon us.

Here's the list. Prepare yourself.

Orlando Magical Dining Month

Friday, July 30, 2010

Super Cool Charity Event

Come out and bid on a Bachelor! All proceeds go to The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society!
I won Mr. Gay Orlando last year!

White Bean and Chicken Salad by Kate

The Plan
Whisk a bit.
Stir.

The Ingredients
6 cans white Cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
1 Red Onion, minced
4 Chicken Breasts, cooked and chopped
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1/2 cup White Balsamic Vinegar
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Tbsp fresh Rosemary, minced

The Method
Combine Beans, Onion and Chicken in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk together Olive Oil, Vinegar, Garlic and Rosemary. Pour into Bean mixture.
Stir to combine.

*The is an awesome salad. But it is even more awesome when it sits over night in the fridge.

Yield: 12 Servings
Points: 6 per Serving


Cannellini Bean on Foodista

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Makers on a Monday


I got a last minute invite yesterday to head over to the premier party of the new Maker's Mark product called 46. I'm usually not a big bourbon drinker (and when I say "not a a big drinker" that's pretty much code for "Uck. Not a fan".) but yikes did I have two delicious cocktails last night.

The big hooey about this product is the newly complex aging process. The 46 is aged as usual in barrel, but after full maturity it is removed, whereas the distillers then place ten oak "staves" into the original barrel. The bourbon is placed back in and aged for a few more months. What does this give us? A higher proof of 94. (47% abv) And if you ask me, a much smoother product with less of the alcohol flavor and aroma.

Here's what I drank:
Bourbon Crusta
2 pts Maker's 46 Bourbon
1/2 pt Cointreau
1/2 pt Maraschino
1/2 pt fresh Lemon Juice
dash Angostura Bitters

Citrus Breeze*
Maker's 46 Bourbon
Cointreau
Ginger Ale
Lemon slice

*I have no idea about the ratio for this drink. They lady in line in front of me ordered it. So I asked for the same. It was super refreshing!

**Also, don't judge. I walked into this event having 10 WW points left for the day. Plus 3 activity points.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Veggie Soup by Kathleen


The Plan
Prep veggies.
Make soup.

The Ingredients
64 oz Fat Free Chicken Broth
3 oz Celery, rough chopped
5 oz Carrot, rough chopped
5 oz Green Beans
3 oz Red Onion, diced
4 oz Edamame, shelled
10 oz frozen Corn kernels, defrosted
10 oz Green Cabbage, shredded
1 1/2 cups Joan of Arc Spicy Chili Beans
43 oz Tomatoes, Diced, canned

The Method
Combine all ingredients in a (very) large sauce pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Stirring occasionally, simmer for one hour, or until vegetables are tender.

Yield: 4 quarts
Points: 6 per quart. Yep, I said per Quart!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Skinny Meatballs by Michelle

These Meatballs are sooo good that I don't even have a picture. Because I didn't have the patience to get the camera. I just wanted to eat them. And at ONE point per ball, who the hell cares what they look like?

The Plan

Make Meatballs.
Cook Meatballs.
Mix Sauce.

The Ingredients
For the Meatballs
3 3/4# Ground Turkey, Lean
8 oz Spinach, cooked, dried and chopped
3 oz Carrot, minced
2 oz Onion, minced
1 oz Celery, minced
2 oz zucchini, minced
1 handful fresh Basil and Oregano, minced
1 Egg, beaten
1/2 cup Bread Crumbs
1 oz Parmesan Cheese
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
For the Sauce
4 cups Marinara sauce
4 cups diced Tomatoes
1 handful fresh Basil and Oregano, minced

The Method
Combine all ingredients for the Meatballs. Mix well and form into balls. This should yield approximately 55 Meatballs. I know this is a huge portion...so cut it down if you would like!

Cook Meatballs however you want. Michelle boiled them in Chicken Stock. Or you can bake them. At 350F until they are done.

Mix ingredients for the sauce. YES you can use jarred Marinara and canned Tomatoes. Don't fret. You're still making homemade Meatballs so there is no reason to feel guilty.

The Facts
Yield: 55 Meatballs
Points: One per Ball and Zero on the Sauce.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

And so it begins.

Results are now posted for week one with Michelle taking the lead.
I'm already losing....so I guess LumaFest last weekend wasn't such a good idea.
Here's to a new week!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Here's...The Skinny on Us.

Ok folks, I have a new project. One that isn't exactly easy to write about...or talk about...or even think about. Weight Loss.

It's not a surprise that I need to lose some weight. I know this sounds pretty ridiculous, considering that I write a food blog. But here's the thing: I'm not out on the town boozing it up at fancy restaurants every night of the week. I even bring my lunch to work everyday. (And I work in a culinary school!!) I know that I'll never be "one of those stupid skinny people" like a friend of mine says,but I sure as hell can be a lot skinnier than I am now.

After much complaining, two friends and I decided to take some action.

So here's the plan: The Skinny on Us. Three Chefs, One Blog.

We decided to go with the old stanby, our cornerstone friend WW. Otherwise known as Weight Watchers. Easy enough, right? People form weight loss clubs all the time. Because the buddy system works best. But here's our take: time is short for all of us, so we decided to also go the Community Cooking route. We'll each cook one week a month for everyone, and the fourth week will be all about freezer cleanout. How does this affect you reading this blog? Well, every week you'll get an original recipe with point info. Cool, huh?

So without any further adieu, here are the contestants:

Kate
Goal: "To feel more comfortable in my skin."

Kathleen
Goal: "To be a MILF."

Michelle
Goal: "To be a HOT bride and be able to button my f@!#&@ pants."

There's not exactly an end date....but we'll seriously reassess right before the big wedding in November. In the meantime, I'll keep a running tally of percentage lost on the right side bar.

And, don't freak people. I fully intend to keep my flex points for going out to a restaurant (notice I said "a restaurant". Yep, only one.) each weekend.

I would also like to say that this is in no way shape or form a contest. Because in the end we will all win. Blach. This is totally a contest. The winner gets gloating rights.

So here we go. No surgery. No pills. Just the good old fashioned Suck It Up and Get It Done.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Luma, revisted (again).

Hi. My name is Kate and I ate at Luma twice last weekend. Yep. Saturday night and Sunday night. I think I may have a problem.

To keep it short and to the point, Luma rocks. I've officially claimed it to be my favorite restaurant in Orlando, and this third blog entry makes it the most reviewed restaurant on this site. Yes, the atmosphere is hip in a non-pretentious South Beach kinda way. Yes, the service is always outstanding. Yes, the menu is creative and innovative. And yes, they have what I consider to be the most fun wine list in Orlando.

Here's what I had:
Saturday night:

  • Short Ribs with a Pickled Rhubarb Barbeque Sauce. This was an appetizer special not listed on the menu. The sauce was a perfect balance of tangy sweetness and the meat literally fell off the bone.
  • 1 glass Pieropan Soave. Light and crisp, a perfect glass of white wine to start the meal. Soave hails from the Veneto region in Italy and is a nice alternative for those of us tired of Pinot Grigio. Confused on the pronunciation? Think Rico....Suave.

  • Ashley Farms Chicken Breast with Sweet Corn Risotto, Onion Confit and a Sherry Jus. I'll be honest and admit I primarily ordered this to try their Corn Risotto and see if it compared to mine that I've listed on this site. Both are fantastic, but theirs is quite sweeter than mine. The entree was superb; the chicken was cooked perfectly and well seasoned.
  • 1 glass Paso a Paso Verdejo. One of my favorite Verdejos, this wine is perfect for summer. From the Spanish region of Rueda, the wine is a great example of the sweet and acidic balance in a white wine.


  • Chocolate Cremosa with housemade Peanut Butter and a Crostini. Also a drizzle of Olive Oil and topped with Sea Salt. Holy crap this is a good dessert. "Cremosa" being a custard like dessert, I loved the flavor combinations, especially the touch of salt.
  • 1 glass Rare Wine Co. Bual Madeira. I read an article a few months ago proclaiming that 2010 is supposedly the "Year of Madeira". I don't think we've gotten to that point yet, but I almost cannot put into words how much I enjoy this fortified wine. This particular product was great with dessert: rich, nutty, and smokey. I enjoyed this wine so much with the Cremosa that I actually proclaimed it to be my BEST BITE EVER. Check out this awesome review of the Madiera for more info.
Sunday night:
  • Rabbit Run Farms Beet Salad. Picture this (because I forgot my camera and hell if I've bought an iphone yet): Butter Lettuce, Goat Feta, Pistachios, Cucumber and a Creamy Avocado dressing. Oh, and Beets. Seriously the most flavorful salad I've ever had. Between the slight tang of the dressing, sweetness of the Beets and saltiness of the Pistachios, this wins my award for Top Salad.
  • Filet with Buttermilk Grits, Roasted Rapini and Mustard Jus. Perfectly cooked steak and a-mazing Grits. I'm sure they were low fat. I did leave the Rapini (aka Broccoli Rabe) on the plate-they were a bit too bitter for me.
  • Dessert? You guessed it. The Cremosa from the night before (I know, I have issues) and the Hazelnut Panna Cotta. With Nutella and Salty roasted Hazelnuts. Both desserts similar with chocolate and saltiness, I reckon the Panna Cotta even surpassed the Cremosa.
  • 2 bottles Marcassin Pinot Noir. Fanastic wine from Sonoma. Hints of fruits with a bit of peppery spiciness.
So, there you go. My version of eating in the same place two nights in a row. The only other time I've done this was in Belfast....mostly because we were too nervous to stray away from our B&B at night. Next time I go to Luma....I'm having dessert first!

PS Head over to the Luma website and join their mailing list. They'll email you a $25 coupon that you can use in July AND August!



Luma on Park on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 12, 2010

Rhubarb Torte

The Plan
Make the crust. Bake.
Make the filling. Bake.
Make the meringue. Bake.

The Ingredients
The Crust
2 cups AP Flour
1/2 cup Shortening
1/2 cup Butter
2 Tbsp Sugar
1 pinch Salt
The Filling
5 cups Rhubarb, chopped
2 cups Sugar
1 cup Cream
6 Egg yolks, beaten
4 Tbsp Flour
The Meringue
6 Egg Whites
1/2 tsp Cream of Tartar
3/4 cup Sugar

The Method
Preheat over to 350F.
Mix together Crust ingredients and press into a 9x13 pan. Bake for 15 minutes.

Combine Filling ingredients. Pour into baked crust and bake until tender, about 40 minutes.

Using an electric mixer (or, if you're unlucky, do it by hand with a whisk), beat the Meringue until stiff. Top the baked Torte with the Meringue. Place back in the oven for another 15 to 20 minutes.


Beautiful, right? My favorite part of this picture is that you can see the reflection of my sister and Grandma taking the picture. The reflection in the Brisker! (Seriously! I have to get myself a Brisker!)


Rhubarb on Foodista

Sunday, July 11, 2010

"The" Ham Loaf

Disclaimer: If you're not a fan of pork in any of it's forms, don't bother to continue reading this recipe. And definitely do not check out the picture below. Because it involves pork, and not in it's most beautiful light.

This is another one of the favorite summer Ohio recipes. It involves a mixture of ground pork and ground ham. There's actually a grocery store in Ohio where you can buy this mixture-literally a container of these products ground together. It's also totally illegal to sell this in the state of Florida. But that's how my Grandma rolls.

If you're interested, buy yourself some pork tenderloin and ham and grind them in your food processor.

The Plan
Make the loaf.
Bake the loaf.

The Ingredients

For the Loaf
1 1/2 # Ground Beef
3/4# Ground Ham
1 cup Breadcrubs
1 cup Milk
2 Eggs
For the Topping
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp Dry Mustard
Vinegar

The Method
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Mix all ingredients for the Loaf. Place mixture on a baking sheet, in whatever shape you prefer. I'm going with Loaf.
Mix all Topping ingredients.
Slightly moisten Loaf with Vinegar. My grandma didn't tell me what type she used, but I'm guessing Apple Cider. Make some grooves on top of the loaf to make it look pretty. Spread Topping on loaf.
Cover with foil and bake for one hour. Remove foil and bake for another half hour. Enjoy.





I'm hesitant to post a picture, because, well, the Ham Loaf isn't exactly attractive. But dang if it isn't good with a bit of ketchup.

Friday, July 9, 2010

"That's how the Sweeds do it."

I spent just about a week over vacation visiting family. In the Midwest. And you know what that means.

Last year I shared with all of you some of the Midwestern culinary delights that I grew up with. I have a couple more to share, but you have promise NOT to judge.

Up first: my Grandmother's version of a Waldorf Salad.

Spring Mix. Gigantic Marshmellows, quartered. Sliced Almonds. Dried Cranberries. Blueberries. And, of course, Mayonnaise.

So wrong....yet so right. I was on my second bite when I realized what the dressing was for the dinner salad. I think I giggled and hollered "Mayo! I have to put this on the blog!". When my aunt looked over, giggled herself, and reported, "Just tell them that's how the Sweeds do it!".

Tomorrow: Ham Loaf. I'm not kidding.




I was also hanging with the newest member of the Kate's Kitchen clan the whole week. Is this going to be an awesome Chica, or what?


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Back in Dodge.

But without a working computer. I'll update as soon as I can. Because I really have to tell you about my Grandmother's Hamloaf.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Sweet Potato Pie

I'm not the biggest fan of pie.

As far as desserts go, I could probably list an array of others I'd choose before pie, with ice cream definitely taking the lead.

I don't really like Sweet Potatoes either.

But I've always wanted to try Sweet Potato Pie since it opened near my house. I just needed an excuse, a reason to buy a pie. So when I was nominated (at the last minute) to bring a dessert to a pool party over the weekend, I figured the time had come. To buy pie.

And now I can't stop thinking about it. Located on Michigan near Orange, Sweet Potato Pie is crammed in an old school shopping center and if you blink while driving by, you'll probably miss it. The shop itself is small, clean and inviting.

The pie itself is a show stopper. Flaky crust? Check. Creamy Sweet Potato filling? Check. Hints of Orange and Nutmeg? Um, Check.

Yep, what really stood out for me was the unusual citrus flavorings that melded perfectly with the Sweet Potato. It made the pie unique and exotic in a Southern way all at the same time. I should probably add that there were a few Pastry Chefs at the party....and all agreed with me that this is the Best Sweet Potato Pie in Orlando.

Great. Now I can't wait for the holidays. Just another excuse to eat pie...from Sweet Potato Pie, of course.

PS Don't forget to use your Buy Local Orlando card and get 10% off your purchase.

Sweet Potato Pie on Urbanspoon