Monday, February 23, 2015

Picnic at Honeymoon Island & Barley Mow Brewing


Lance’s sister & brother in law, Brandi & Jeremy, got us an awesome grill for Christmas, and we’ve been so busy we haven’t had the chance to use it until we brought it to Honeymoon Island the other day!  Before, we only had our little George Foreman, but this one is great because it’s compact enough for our small porch and it’s portable.

Last time we went to Honeymoon Island was back in 2011 – we had only been dating a month, and we took the ferry from there to Caladesi Island.  That was in the summer, so it was beautiful weather, but we didn’t plan for how cold it would be this time!  The highs were in the 50’s, but with the wind it felt more like the 40’s.  Luckily I brought a jacket, but it wasn’t really beach weather.  The ferry to Caladesi was closed due to the high wind. 

Originally we thought we’d set up by the water, but we moved to a picnic shelter to keep warm and make sure the grill stayed lit.    

Like most of our picnics, we made a run to Trader Joe’s first to pick up some food.  We bought their Spicy Italian Vino & Formaggio Chicken Sausages, baked beans, corn, peppers, and onions to grill.  We were going to just get some normal hot dog buns, but we saw that TJ’s had soft pretzel sticks, which was so much more exciting!  We topped the sausages with the veggies and Double Cream Gouda cheese (I also love the smoked gouda cheese at TJ’s!) 

We grilled the corn with Sriracha Kaffir Lime Rub from Williams Sonoma (a gift from my cousin Chris and his wife Marty). 

As an impulse buy, we bought some nuts to snack on – Thai Lime & Chili Cashews and Sesame Honey Almonds.  WOW they are both delicious.  The cashews at first bite didn’t seem all that spicy, but the chili hits you after a few seconds – make sure you have something to drink with these.  And the sesame almonds were really filling – they’d be a good snack to hold you over between meals. 

We had planned to grill pineapple as well, but we had way too much food already.  We walked it off on the Osprey Trail, which was a really nice little hike.  We saw an eagle in its nest – then another one joined carrying a fish!  There were also a bunch of armadillos along the trail. 

Lance’s niece, Lila, sent us a “Flat Stanley” a few weeks ago.  We had to bring him on adventures and document his experiences in a journal, then mail him back to her class in Pittsburgh so she could talk about his trip.  One of the pages asked what the landscape looked like in our area compared to Pennsylvania, so we brought him to the beach with us. 

Afterwards we checked another brewery off our map by visiting Barley Mow Brewing Company in Largo.  We kept hearing great things about their beer, and we weren’t disappointed.  The people were very friendly, and it was clear a lot of the patrons there were regulars. 

A photographer from Visit St. Pete Clearwater was there taking pictures of their Quackalope IPA, so Lance got a free beer for letting them take shots of him drinking one (I don’t think they’re online yet, but I did find a really great video they posted last month about the Craft Beer Trail!)

I especially liked the Son of a Seabiscuit – which is a sweet amber beer brewed with Serrano peppers.  I probably couldn’t drink more than one, but the small taste in the flight was the perfect way to warm up from the chilly weather. 

Honeymoon Island is located at 1 Causeway Blvd, Dunedin, FL 34698.

Barley Mow is located at 518 W Bay Dr, Largo, FL 33770 and is open 3pm – 2am Monday – Friday and 12pm – 2am Saturday – Sunday. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Crock Pot Sriracha & Roasted Garlic BBQ Ribs


Lance was off work last Wednesday, so he had an incredible meal ready for us when I got home that night!  He made ribs in the crock pot and they were some of the best I’ve ever tasted.  He usually likes to just wing it, but I had given him a recipe that he loosely followed and wow – it was fantastic.  He prepared us cheesy toast and side salads to accompany our ribs. 

It was a feast – I ended up saving half my ribs since my portion was huge.   Since the weather has been cooler, he set up our patio with candles and plugged in our hanging globe lights.  He even documented his steps for me since he knows I like showing them when I share recipes on my blog!  I really scored a good one. 
Crock Pot BBQ Ribs (adapted from MMM is for Mommy)

  • 2 pounds pork baby back ribs
  • 1.5 T smoked paprika
  • 1 T light brown sugar
  • 1 t seasoned salt
  • ½ t crushed red pepper
  • ½ t nutmeg
  • ½ t red sea fusion (this is a mixed spice we have from Cork & Olive, but if you don’t have this, you can substitute a mix of garlic, salt, black pepper, and more paprika). 
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce (we try to avoid using ones that have high fructose corn syrup as the first ingredient or too many chemicals – Trader Joe’s makes an AWESOME Sriracha and Roasted Garlic BBQ Sauce that’s organic and the ingredients are all natural)

1. Mix together your spices in a bowl and rub both sides of your ribs well (Lance just eyeballed it & threw the spices directly on the ribs). 

2. Arrange in a large oval slow cooker with the meaty side against the pot.  Pour BBQ sauce over them and cook for 6-8 hours on low. 

3. Carefully remove your ribs from the crock pot and transfer them to a baking pan with a rack on top.  Place in the oven on broil for 3 – 4 minutes, brush with more BBQ sauce, and broil again for a few minutes.  This step only takes a few minutes, but it helped seal the sauce to the ribs and make them nice and crispy on the outside, while still remaining fall-off the bone tender.  

Lunch at Roux – Tampa, FL


I went out to lunch on Sunday with my parents, my brother, David, and his girlfriend, Laura, at Roux.  I had only been for dinner, so it was nice to try out their lunch menu. 

My parents actually went THREE days in a row that weekend.  They had already booked dinner there for Valentine’s Day on Saturday.  Then plans to meet with friends a few weeks ago got postponed until Friday.  And when they asked David where he wanted to go out to lunch, he said Roux, which meant they went Friday – Sunday last weekend!  They only live a block away though, so it’s the most convenient restaurant for them to eat at – it probably takes them less time to walk there than to drive down the garage of their condo and find a parking spot. 

Even though it was just after noon, we decided to each have a sangria (besides David, who had a beer…)  It was garnished with blueberries and very sweet.  It was probably even a little too sweet for me – I prefer the Columbia or Ceviche’s sangria.  The cocktails I had last time at Roux were amazing – I just thought noon was a little early to have absinthe or gin…

The thing they emphasize on their lunch menu is the Po’ Boy, which is a 9’ long, full-pound sandwich on French bread.  My mom had the soft-shell crab version and David had the fried shrimp, both with Cajun fries. 



David and Laura split a bowl of the soup du jour – lobster bisque.  For Laura’s meal, she ordered their fried chicken salad, but substituted for shrimp.  It looked really fresh – with apples, Swiss cheese, praline pecans, cornbread croutons, and a mayhaw vinaigrette (a mayhaw is a berry native to Louisiana).

I also had the lobster bisque, but with a side of the skillet cornbread.  It’s baked with cheddar and Monterrey jack cheeses and has a brown sugar crust, served with Steen’s cane syrup butter.  It paired perfectly with the bisque – and I had plenty of cornbread to bring home. 

Dad had the Muffuletta sandwich – with marinated olive salad, salami, mortadella, ham, mozeralla, and provolone.  It was gigantic – about 8” diameter – but our server tells us that when they first opened, it used to be almost twice the size!  Dad also got the red beans & rice – which has Andouille sausage, and smoked ham hocks cooked with the beans & is topped with a mound of white rice. 

Everyone left very full.  Eating Creole cuisine was the perfect way to kick-start this Mardi Gras week! 

Roux is located at 4205 South MacDill Avenue, Tampa, FL 33611 and is open 11:30 – 2pm & 5:30 – 10pm Tuesday – Thursday, 11:30am – 2pm & 5:30 – 11pm Friday & Saturday, and 11:30am – 2pm and 5:30 – 9pm on Sunday (they are closed on Mondays).