Restaurant Spotlight

Daily Eats

When J. was out of town a few weeks ago, some of the girls and I decided to get together for a Sunday Girl’s Brunch. Trying to meet somewhere between the three of us as well as try somewhere new, we stumbled upon Daily Eats down in the SoHo area of Tampa.

Of course, brunch on a Sunday is always busy. While they don’t take reservations, they were super efficient at turning over tables quickly and we were seated withing 30 minutes. Inside it’s a modern diner style atmosphere with booths and a large prep station running across the restaurant.

Their menu isn’t overwhelming but definitely has plenty of both healthy and not-so-healthy “treat yourself” options. So many things called to me off the menu, but I ended up with the Benedictine – two poached eggs on top of a bed of shredded natural chicken, sauteed mushrooms, melted swiss cheese and a crispy english muffin topped with hollandaise. I’ve never had chicken or mushrooms on a benedict, but it may be my new favorite. The chicken was seasoned well and having it shredded let it soak up all of the runny egg yolk and hollandaise goodness. The english muffin was toasted just enough to stand up to all of the liquid. And for me you can never go wrong with mushrooms. A true winner. I also upgraded my side to the bacon cheese grits. They were creamy, salty deliciousness.

The ladies went for chocolate chip pancakes (the pancakes were HUGE!) and Cap’n Crunch French Toast (traditional french toast coated with Cap’n Crunch cereal) and topped with strawberries, both with home fries. They both couldn’t get enough of diving into their sweet delicious breakfast dishes.

And of course, brunch isn’t brunch, without flavored mimosas – we loved the strawberry and blueberry flavors.

The staff was excellent and super helpful in making recommendations for our first time there. I can’t wait to return and try everything else on their menu. If you’re in the neighborhood (or even if you’re not!), you’ve gotta stop in.

Until next time!

–BrunchBabe

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Recipes

Cuban Sandwich Casserole

I love thinking out of the box when it comes to cooking and trying new ways to combine flavors. Some turn out pretty weird, but others turn out surprisingly delicious! One winner was a Publix Aprons Recipe with a spin on a Cuban sandwich, in casserole form.

Cuban Sandwich Casserole

  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 links pre-cooked apple chicken sausage, sliced (I used Publix brand Apple Gouda – my new favorite!)
  • 4 oz cooked ham, cubed
  • 1 box chicken-flavor rice mix
  • 2 1/2 cups water, divided ( 1/2 cup + 2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup dill relish
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 4 oz Swiss cheese, cubed
  • 2 TBSP fresh cilantro, finely chopped

Slice and cube your meat and cheese. Preheat large sauté pan on medium-high. Pour oil into the pan, then add the sausage and ham. Cook for a few minutes until it starts to brown. Stir in the seasoning packet from the rice box. Add in 1/2 cup water, stir, and cook for a few minutes until the seasoning has begun to dissolve.

Stir in rice, relish, mustard, 1 tablespoon cilantro, and remaining 2 cups water. Cover the pan and reduce heat to low and simmer 20-22 minutes (or until rice is tender and water is absorbed). Stir in cheese, then sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon cilantro.

This dish is easy, delicious and truly does pull in all of the flavors of a Cuban sandwich. The rice takes the place of the bread and the hints of relish and mustard help add that acid finish in the flavor profile. If you’re a fan of Cubans, this is certainly worth trying!

Recipes

Pecan Pie

A couple weeks ago it was time for J.’s company annual pie contest. After coming in 3rd last year, I was out for some major redemption. I’ve stuck with fruit pies the last three times, so I wanted to branch out and dip my toes in a new category. Nothing seemed better than attempting a classic pecan pie.

Homemade Pie Crust

*This makes enough for 2 pie bottoms or 1 bottom and 1 top, depending on what type of pie you’re making

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5 TBSP ice water (fill up a cup or small bowl with ice and then fill with water)

In a stand mixer (or in a large bowl) mix together the flour, salt, and butter. Mix it together until the butter has been incorporated. One TBSP at a time, add in the ice water, mixing slowly. Once the dough begins to come together and doesn’t crumble, you’ve added enough water. (Be careful not to overwork the dough or it will be really tough).

Lightly flour your counter-top and divide the dough into two spheres. Softly flatten the sphere into a disk shape, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for an hour.

Pecan Pie Filling

  • 3/4 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp orange zest
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 lb. pecan halves

As you approach the end of your hour for your dough to chill, preheat your oven to 350, placing a baking sheet on middle rack.

Lightly flour your counter-top again and roll out your dough. Roll into about a 12 inch round and fit it into your pie plate. Trim the edges, fold the overhang and crimp if desired, for decoration. Prick bottom all over with a fork. Chill until firm, at least 30 minutes (or freeze 10 minutes).

Meanwhile, melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar, whisking until smooth. Remove the saucepan from heat and mix in corn syrup, vanilla, zest, and salt.

Lightly beat eggs in a separate bowl, then whisk in corn syrup mixture.

Once the dough has chilled, put pecans in the pie shell and pour the corn syrup mixture evenly over them. Place the pie on the hot baking sheet in the oven and cook until the filling is set, about 50 minutes.

I love this pie because it was so simple to make (especially if you buy a pre-made crust)! I’ve had some sickeningly sweet pecan pies before, but the orange zest added just amount of citrus flavor and acid to help cut all of that sugar. Serve this with a little whipped cream or ice cream and you’ve got a perfect dessert!

Until next time!

–BrunchBabe

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Restaurant Spotlight Snacks & Sightseeing

Key West Livin’

This past weekend J. and I took the long trek down to Key West for his best friend’s wedding. I’d never been down to the Keys before, and J. had only taken a pit stop there on a cruise several years ago. We were excited to add a new city to our travels together, explore the sights, and of course, try all of the delicious food there was to offer.

Key West was a chill, historic beach town. The streets are lined with palm trees and old Florida homes, many of which have been converted into inns, restaurants, and bars. The food here was fresh and seafood was a prevalent menu item, which I loved! Drinks were flowing heavily with rum punches and margaritas all around and live music everywhere we went. Here’s some of our favorite places, foods, and drinks we hit this weekend:

The Bars:

  • Captain Tony’s Saloon:
    • Pirate’s Punch: spiced and white rums with orange and pineapple juice
  • Hog’s Breath Saloon:
    • Goombay Smash: coconut rum with coconut and pineapple juice
  • The Green Parrot:
    • Parrot Punch: spiced rum with orange and pineapple juice
  • The Lazy Gecko:
    • Green Monster: coconut rum, apple liquor, melon liquor, razz liquor, and pineapple juice
  • Waterfront Brewery:
    • Crazy Lady: blonde ale brewed with local honey
  • The Porch:
    • I got a pear cider but they have a huge variety of draft and bottled craft beers

The Food:

  • Blue Macaw:
    • Blue Beni: eggs benedict on a mini waffle with chipotle pulled pork and hollandaise sauce
  • Vinos on Duval:
    • Antipasto platter: prosciutto and brie served with sun dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts and olives
  • Blue Heaven:
    • “BLT” Benny: eggs benedict on an english muffin topped with bacon, lobster, grilled tomatoes and lime hollandaise sauce
    • Key Lime Pie: topped with meringue on a graham cracker crust with freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Red Fish Blue Fish:
    • Conch Chowder
    • Key West Mixed Grill: sautéed diver sea scallops and gulf shrimp, with lime cilantro sauce and island rice
    • Baja Mahi Tacos: soft flour tortillas, blackened grilled mahi mahi, grilled onions, chili cream, bell peppers and cheddar jack cheese
  • Havana:
    • Seafood Omelette: lobster, shrimp, spinach, red onions and cheddar cheese. Served with grits and pressed Cuban bread “toast”
    • Cuban bread French Toast

These were just a sliver of what Key West has to offer. Everyone there is so friendly and laid back, it definitely is that “island lifestyle.” Nights are relaxed and best to just hang out and hear live music and grab a delicious cocktail. I can’t wait to go back.

Until next time!

–BrunchBabe

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Restaurant Spotlight

Lucky Dill

When J. first moved to Tampa several years ago, I still lived in Orlando. Whenever I’d come to visit, we’d try somewhere local and new to explore the area. One of the first places we tried was Lucky Dill Deli in Palm Harbor. Since then it has become a fast favorite of ours.

Luck Dill Deli embodies the New York state of mind. Each of their dining rooms is decorated with photos and paraphernalia like a different New York borough like the Bronx and Tribeca. And along with the fun, lively atmosphere also comes the biggest (literally!!) menu with endless classic deli food options.

While they have endless appetizers, salads, all-day breakfast and full dinner plates, my go-tos are always their potato pancakes, home-made soup, and sandwiches as big as your head! When J. and I went with his family several weeks ago, my menu choices were no different.

We started with the mini potato latkes. They are perfectly seasoned and cooked just the right amount of time to get that crispy exterior but still be so soft in the middle. Slab on a little applesauce and sour cream and you’ll be in love. If I could eat these every day I would.

Their homemade French onion soup is out of this world. The broth is seasoned well (without being overly salty – like SO many French onion soups typically are) and so flavorful. The onions are sliced well and add that nice hint of sweetness you’re looking for in this soup. They use their fresh bakery rolls in the soup and it’s smothered with lots of bubbly provolone cheese. Delish!

I went for one of their “All The Way To NYC” sandwiches with corned beef, pastrami, swiss cheese on marble rye topped with coleslaw and russian dressing. These sandwiches are huge – I can’t even extend my mouth large enough to take a full bite. Feel free to split one or have some delicious leftovers! The ratio is definitely more meat to bread on this sandwich – but that’s kind of the point! The meat is sliced thin and seasoned well. I’m a big fan of coleslaw on sandwiches and the sweetness paired nicely with the salty meat.

The restaurant is usually pretty busy, so feel free to grab a drink from their bar while you wait for a table. The staff is friendly but can be a little slow…so don’t make this the place you’re trying to get in and out of in 30 minutes. Come, sit, relax, eat and stay awhile.

There are a lot of knock-off style New York delis around, but Lucky Dill is the real deal. You gotta check it out.

Oh! And before you leave make sure to swing by their Brooklyn Bakery for homemade cookies, cakes, and of course – New York style bagels.

Until next time!

–BrunchBabe

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Recipes

Dark Chocolate Guinness Bread

I just couldn’t leave for vacation without sharing one last St. Patrick’s Day recipe! I love to bake and I don’t do it nearly often enough. I’d been flipping through some of my Irish cookbooks but none of their breads seemed to fix the sweet tooth craving I was having. I had some leftover Guinness from when it was BOGO at Publix awhile back and stumbled upon the perfect recipe from Homemade Hooplah – Dark chocolate Guinness Bread with Bailey’s Glaze. And what says more St. Patrick’s Day than some Guinness and Bailey’s!

Dark Chocolate Guinness Bread

  • 1  1/2 cup all-­purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1/2 cup semi-­sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup Guinness

Baileys Glaze

  • 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp Baileys
  • 2 tsp half and half

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 9 x 5 loaf pan with baking spray.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and white pepper. Set aside.

In a stand mixer, beat butter and brown sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape the edges of the bowl, then mix in the egg. Add beer and mix for 30 seconds, just enough to break apart butter mixture into the beer. Add in your dry ingredients to the mixer a bit at a time and slowly mix together.

Gently fold in chocolate chips and walnuts, then pour batter into your loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes. (P.S. I sprinkled some extra chocolate chips on the top of the bread before I baked it). 

Let bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the Baileys Glaze in a small bowl (I actually used a small measuring cup), mix together powdered sugar, Baileys, and cream. Feel free to adjust the consistency of your glaze as you see fit (thin it out with extra Bailey’s, or thicken with more powdered sugar).

Once the bread has cooled, use a spoon to drizzle the top of your bread with the glaze.

This recipe was delicious! The bread itself is not overly sweet since the only real sugar in it is the bit of brown sugar. The real sweetness comes from the glaze on top – so feel free to add as much as you’d like! When I served J. and I the bread, I made sure to drizzle a bit extra on our pieces. The dark chocolate pairs perfectly with the Guinness stout flavor and the walnuts give it a nice texture. Definitely a winner in my book!

Until next time!

–BrunchBabe

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Recipes

Reubens

Happy (almost) St. Patrick’s Day, everyone! Coming from an Irish family, I love St. Patrick’s Day. This year I’m heading to Belize for one of my best friend’s weddings over the actual holiday so I’ve been celebrating early this week. While the exact origin of the Reuben sandwich may be up for debate, almost everyone eats corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day even if you’re not Irish, so I wanted to share a quick and easy recipe to enjoy this holiday!

Corned Beef Reuben

  • 1/4 – 1/2 lb. sliced corned beef
  • 2 slices Irish Swiss Cheese
  • 2 slices marble-rye bread
  • 2 TBSP homemade thousand island (recipe below)
  • 2 – 3 TBSP sauerkraut (optional)

Turkey Reuben (because I sadly gave up beef for Lent this year)

  • 1/4 – 1/2 lb. sliced turkey
  • 2 slices Irish Swiss Cheese
  • 2 slices marble-rye bread
  • 2 TBSP homemade thousand island (recipe below)
  • 2 – 3 TBSP sweet coleslaw (optional)

Homemade Thousand Island (better than any store-bought kind I’ve ever had!)

  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 2 TBSP ketchup
  • 1 TBSP white vinegar
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp sweet pickle relish
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper

Pre-heat your oven to 350 F. On a baking sheet, layout your two slices of bread and top one slice with cheese, meat, the other slice of cheese, and sauerkraut (if using). Bake for about 5 – 7 minutes until the bread toasts and cheese melts.

While baking, mix together your thousand island dressing. Once out of the oven, spread on bare slice of bread. Top with coleslaw, if using. And voila! A super easy Irish celebration!

P.S. Coleslaw is also delicious on the corned beef Reuben as well! Feel free to mix around toppings or create one monster sandwich with all of the above! 

Until next time!

–BrunchBabe

P.S. Don’t forget to check us out on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest & Instagram!

 

Recipes

Parmesan Risotto

A few months ago, J. had some delicious homemade risotto at Casa Cosenza. Then on our honeymoon, J. and I had some amazing saffron and pumpkin risotto in Milan. It was never a dish we typically ordered before, but there is something about this decadent dish that is addictive. It is so much more than your average bowl of rice. A truly memorable dish on an extra special night…or just when you’re feeling fancy on a Friday (and have no energy to go out).

There are plenty of different ways to flavor risotto so feel free to do some research and find your own favorite! The recipe below is for Parmesan Risotto that I felt was rich, yet still somewhat simple and pure to let the delightful texture be the star of the show.

Parmesan Risotto

  • 4 cups water
  • Ground pepper
  • Chopped parsley (for topping)

In a saucepan, bring your broth water to a simmer. Keep this warm throughout your cooking process.

(Side note: Keeping this warm ensures the risotto continues to cook evenly. When you add cold broth you’re delaying cooking time by having the broth have to heat up and then be absorbed into the rice.)

Meanwhile, melt 4 TBSP butter in a pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until soft. cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat in the butter. Add the thyme. Add the wine and stir until the liquid is absorbed.  Add 1 tsp Kosher salt. Add in the warm broth, a 1/2 cup at a time. Add the broth and stir, allowing all of the liquid to be absorbed before adding more. Continue this process, of adding broth and stirring until absorbed, until the rice is just tender, about 30 minutes.

Remove the thyme. Stir in the Parmesan and the remaining 1 TBSP butter. Season with 1/2 tsp Kosher salt and pepper to taste and top with parsley.

You don’t want to rush this process! The art of the risotto is in the cooking of it. If you add too much liquid (or all the liquid) at once, you’re basically just boiling rice. Cooking it a little at a time let’s it develop that soft rich texture that is just beyond compare. So pour yourself a glass of wine and just keep stirring!

 

Enjoy!

Until next time!

–BrunchBabe

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Recipes

Sriracha Honey Wings

When it comes to wings, J. loves them hot while I prefer milder sweet flavors (with a tang) like sweet thai chili or BBQ.  We’ve both been craving wings lately and I wanted to find a flavor that could complement both of our palettes. Enter – sriracha honey wings.

Sriracha Honey Wings

  • 1/2 small yellow onion
  • 1.5 – 2 lb chicken wings (or drumettes)
  • 2 TBSP chicken broth
  • 4 TBSP sriracha (2 for marinade, 2 for sauce)
  • 4 TBSP honey  (2 for marinade, 2 for sauce)
  • Salt
  • 2 TBSP chopped cilantro (optional)

Finely mince your onion. Add to a large bowl with the chicken broth, 2 TBSP sriracha, and 2 TBSP honey. Lightly season your wings (or drumettes) with salt. Add to the bowl, toss to coat and let it marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Heat your oven to 450°F. Place your wings on a baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes.

While cooking, mix your remaining 2 TBSP sriracha and 2 TBSP honey in another large bowl. When the wings are done, remove from the oven and toss them in the extra sauce. Sprinkle with the cilantro, if desired.

These had a nice heat from the sriracha that was tempered by the sweetness of the honey. J. said these were the best wings I’d ever made! And they were so simple! I think a splash of soy sauce in these would add even more of a little Asian flare. Next time, I definitely want to let these marinate a bit longer (perhaps even overnight) to really have those flavor have time to build up and pack that punch.

Until next time!

–BrunchBabe

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Restaurant Spotlight

Big Storm Brewing Co.

Every time I take my short cut to work in the morning I pass Big Storm Brewing. Co. on 49th St. N in Clearwater. Of course, at 8am beer is the last thing from my mind, but for months I’ve been trying to give myself mental reminders to come back after work, and last Friday we finally did.

The location is comfortable and casual; an open environment with a great view of the brewery itself in the back. A large bar is in the middle with televisions all around (a great place to go watch sports!) and plenty of seating. The staff was extremely friendly, but the service was slow. It seemed we were being waited on by one of the bartenders instead of an actual waitress, so his attention stayed mostly at the bar. We got our first round of drinks quickly, but service waned after that.

J. got one of their flights to try a handful of their beers – I loved the way they displayed it on this cerulean blue round board and small snifter glasses.

I also loved the way they described all of their beers with unique characteristics like:

  • Tenflare Red Lager -“toasty, hints of caramel, perfect balance”
  • Kumquat Radler – “luscious Florida sunshine, fruity, kumquatery”
  • Category 3 Belgian Tripel – “banana clove, sweet malt, pleasant alcohol.”

While somewhat random wording, it does help you understand the flavors behind the beers. Plus, it’s fun! I tried the three listed above and was a fan of all of them.

The Pinellas tap room serves food too!  I ordered the Ahi Poke Tuna – diced Ahi tuna tossed in a garlic ginger poke sauce, layered with fresh mango and avocado. Topped with jicama slaw and drizzled with wasabi cream and served with wonton chips. The flavors and textures of this meal paired so well together. You got the soft poke served with the crisp slaw and wonton chips. And the whole spectrum of salty, spicy, and sweet flavors. Just beware of the wasabi cream – it definitely had a lingering kick!

 

J. ordered their Mahi sandwich that was one of their specials. The fish was fresh, the seasoning was perfect and it was cooked well, with nice grill marks. It was served with a homemade tartar sauce and crispy fries. I was a big fan – I hope this will be a popular special, or perhaps even a permanent menu addition!

With fun weather themed names, their beers are “artisanal, approachable yet complex and cater to craft beer enthusiasts and regular beer drinkers alike.” You can also check out their “Storm Tracker” to see what beers are currently in season at their tap room! You’ll always have plenty of options to choose from.

Until next time!

–BrunchBabe

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