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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.


Tony Adams, Big Wheel Provisions
Orlando, Florida
Tami Kennedy, Shipyard Brewing Company
Portland, Maine
207-838-0816 --

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Skinny Chicken Tortilla Soup by Michelle

The Plan
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