Thursday, October 16, 2014

Pumpkin Ravioli with Brown Butter Sage Sauce


I bought just about every pumpkin food at Trader Joe’s the other day, including Pumpkin Ravioli.  I can’t stress how quick and easy this was to make – it literally just needs to cook in boiling water for 2 minutes.  I topped mine with a brown butter sage sauce (recipe below).  The container says it serves 2, but I would serve it with a side salad if you’re sharing it – one serving is only 5 pieces of ravioli.  

I got to try out my new garlic press Lance bought me!  (He's been awesome to let me spend some of his Macy's rewards money & use his discount towards a few kitchen gadgets).  No more hand-mincing garlic anymore!   

Pumpkin Ravioli with Brown Butter Sage Sauce


1. Boil 4 quarts of water on the stovetop. 

2. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the garlic and continue cooking until it begins to brown, about 4 minutes. 

2. When your water comes to a boil, add your ravioli and cook for 2 minutes. 

3. Stir sage, salt, and pepper in to the brown butter mixture.  Add your pasta, and then toss with parmesan cheese.   That’s all! 

Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe – Tampa, FL


We spent our day off at the Museum of Science and Industry – MOSI is offering free tickets in October to anyone with a YMCA membership!

Since we were already near Seminole Heights, we headed to Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe for dinner.  I tried to go a few years ago with my parents, but it was so crowded we couldn’t get a table!  And somehow I hadn’t made it there again until yesterday.  According to Tasting Tampa, it’s one of the top 10 best restaurants in Seminole Heights (it has good company on the list – including The Refinery and Rooster & the Till).

We got there just a few minutes before they opened at 5pm, so it was pretty quiet and there was plenty of parking.  But by 6pm, it was packed!  I’d recommend trying to get there early if you don’t want to wait. 

It makes sense to have “folk art” in the title – the entire places is covered in funky upcycled creations – much of the art being made from scrap metal.  The landscaping in front of the restaurant is lined with old bowling balls, and the booth we were seated at had a shrine to Elvis with all sorts of funky pieces of art featuring “the King”. 


They have a great patio with outdoor booths, Adirondack chairs, and a big oak tree.  Had it been a couple degrees cooler, we would have dined out there. 


We were there during Happy Hour – Tuesdays through Fridays 5-7pm they have $3 draft beers and well drinks, $4 house wine, and $2 off their signature cocktails.  I tried The Revival – Sweet Tea with Wild Turkey American Honey Whiskey, muddled lemon, agave, and mint.  Sweet and refreshing.  If you’re a fan of Bloody Mary’s though, they make a pretty impressive one garnished with a rib!

We ordered a bunch of appetizers as our dinner – the Tuna Cracka’ Staka’, Rasta-Far-Fries, and Jerk Chicken Wings. 

They brought us bread while we waited – it was soft and warm with herb butter.  We got the fries and tuna together.  Wow the tuna was awesome!  It was served over crispy wonton chips with Asian slaw and topped with roe.  They tasted very fresh – I could have eaten a dozen. 

The fries were enormous!  They were cut in large wedges and topped with their house mustard, sea salt, cilantro, and Sriracha.  It was a bit more mustard than I would have liked, but the rest of the toppings were perfect – just the right amount of spiciness.

The wings were island spiced, hickory smoked, then flash fried and tossed in sweet & spicy jerk sauce.  They were some of the best wings I’ve tasted – and the lime cream sauce paired perfectly with the jerk seasoning.  We used the lime sauce to cool down the spicy fries as well. 

We ended with their chocolate covered bacon dessert – it won an award in last year’s Creative Loafing Best of the Bay.  It included 2 large strips of bacon dipped in dark chocolate and peanuts, along with 2 pieces of pancetta coated in white chocolate and almonds.  The pancetta was very good, but I especially loved how dark the chocolate was on bacon.  A perfect sweet and salty dessert!

If you haven’t been to Ella’s yet, I’d put it on your must-visit list.  We thoroughly enjoyed our meal.  They have live entertainment most evenings, and I hear that their Soul Food Sundays are incredible as well! 

Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe is located at 5119 N Nebraska Ave, Tampa, FL 33603 and is open 5pm – 11pm Tuesday through Thursday, 5pm – 12am Fridays and Saturdays, and 11am – 8pm on Sundays. 

Crock Pot Breakfast Casserole

I found this casserole on Pinterest and it sounded great – just prepare the night before, then wake up to an already cooked breakfast!  I deviated a bit too much from the original recipe, and I wouldn’t recommend doing that.  I’m sure if you followed the instructions, it would be great, but mine didn’t hold together very well.  It still tasted alright, but definitely wasn't the prettiest of dishes.  

We only had 7 eggs, so I halved the milk, cheese, and potatoes.  I think my mistake was not halving the veggies as well – the extra tomato, onion, and pepper made it a bit too liquidy. 

The original recipe used a package of Potatoes O’Brien (potatoes with onions and peppers).  We instead used fresh onions and peppers with shredded potatoes.  I thought that having fresh vegetables would be a good thing, but it just didn’t give it the right consistency. 

I’d also recommend cooking it in a larger crock pot so it doesn’t turn out so thick.

I’m sharing the original recipe below – if anyone tries this out, let me know how it goes!

Crock Pot Breakfast Casserole (adapted from Fav Family Recipes)

  • 12-15 breakfast sausage links
  • 12 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 package (2 lbs) potatoes o’brien
  • 1 tomato
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Brown sausage until cooked through and cut into pieces (I had sausage patties instead of links...)

2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with milk, then season with salt and pepper.

3. Stir in the sausage, potatoes o’brien, tomato, and cheese (mine above shows the fresh veggies.  I also reserved a handful of cheese to put on top).

4. Spray a crock pot with cooking spray and pour the mixture in. Top with remaining cheese.

5. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. 
I enjoyed mine with a Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte (in a beautiful mug my ceramicist cousin Ashley made!)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Everything!


Last week we got the Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer in the mail outlining their October specials.  This month they have literally everything pumpkin you could possibly imagine!  Pumpkin bread, coffee, cereal, pancakes, waffles, cinnamon rolls, ice cream, seeds, pies, yogurt, cream cheese, soup, chai tea, beer, ravioli, croutons…and that’s only half the list!

Since I’m a big fan of everything pumpkin (see these recipes I shared in a previous post) I had to restrain myself from buying out the whole store.  Most of the times I try to visit Trader Joe’s in the middle of the days on weekdays to ensure easy parking.  Since I went on a Sunday afternoon, it was crazy!  Cars were lined up waiting for spots to open up in their small lot.  I’ve never had a problem the other dozen or so times I’ve visited though...just maybe avoid going at peak times if possible. 


My friend Thu had sent me a photo of her cooking their Pumpkin Ravioli last week, so I added that to my shopping cart, along with a variety of other fall goodies.  About half my cart ended up with pumpkin flavored foods, but they have a ton of other fall flavors that I’m excited to try – Carrot Ginger Soup, Organic Tricolor Quinoa, Toasted Coconut Pancake Mix, and Creamy Toscano Cheese with Cinnamon. 

When I got home, I snacked on the cinnamon cheese with Pumpkin Cranberry Crisps.  I loved the flavor, but I still prefer their Raisin Rosemary Crisps.  The Toscano with Cinnamon would be nice to pair with fruit, but I really like their Toscano with black pepper and the one soaked in Syrah wine – both have bolder flavor than the cinnamon kind. 

I splurged and bought their Dark Chocolate Speculoos Cookie Butter Cups – had they been milk chocolate I may have been able to resist, but I love dark chocolate.  They are like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, but filled with cookie butter instead!  I think this may be my new favorite candy.  It’s probably a good thing that they’re individually wrapped; otherwise it would be too easy to grab a handful of them. 

Our friends Tony & Katie hosted a BBQ party at their home last night for the season premiere of The Walking Dead.  I’m not a fan of the show since I’m scared of blood and zombies, but I got to spend some time with all our friends which was fun.  Our friends Pate & Katie work at Pane Rustica, so they brought by some spooky treats from their bakery. 


I threw together a salad I had bought that afternoon from Trader Joe’s.  The Harvest Blend comes with baby spinach, kale, lettuce, broccoli, and cauliflower.  It also includes roasted pumpkin seeds, dates, raisins, pumpkin cornbread croutons, and pumpkin vinaigrette.  It wasn’t an overload of pumpkin, but it was a nice hearty and crunchy salad.  I may buy some of the Pumpkin Cornbread Croutons on their own since they sell them separately. 

I also brought the Kennebunkport Brewing Co. Pumpkin Ale – and both Katies had other pumpkin beers as well!  We made a sugar rim for our glasses with 3 T brown sugar, 1 T white sugar, 1 T cinnamon, and 1 tsp nutmeg.  The sweet rim made it taste like we were drinking pumpkin pie!  Although all our drinks were pumpkin, they were 3 different shades.  The Kennebunkport ale was actually a very light pumpkin beer, while the Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale was the darkest.  The Southern Tier Brewing Company Pumking was rated #3 best pumpkin beer recently on (#1 was made by our local Cigar City Brewing).  According to this article, sales of pumpkin beers have gone up 1500% in the past 10 years!!! So I'm sure many of you out there are enjoying pumpkin beers this fall as well. 

Looking forward to trying all the other things I bought yesterday! 

Trader Joe's is located at 3808 W Swann Ave, Tampa, FL 33609 and is open 8am – 9pm every day.