Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Bake – Tampa, FL


Last September I went to Creative Loafing’s Best of the Bay and had some delicious donuts by The Bake – a pizzeria and bakery on Bayshore near Interbay.  They’ve since added on an adjoining restaurant, Noi Italian Kitchen and Bar, which is more for sit-down meals. 

I bought a CL Deal for The Bake & Noi which gave me $30 for only $15, and it doesn’t expire until February 2016.  Of course, I used it a lot faster than that – I took my brother, David out for lunch to try it out.  We both live about a mile from there, so it was an easy place to meet up and grab a quick bite.  

We started off with fancy coffee drinks – I had the Molly Jane (salted white chocolate amaretto latte) and David had the White Mocha Motion (espresso, steamed milk, and Ghiradelli white chocolate).  They also brought a nice water carafe to the table so we didn’t have to keep asking for water refills. 

Since we had to spend $30, we ordered a lot of food.  We split the Spinach Salad, which had large chunks of candied pecans, gorgonzola, grapes, bacon, and raspberry vinaigrette. 

On the weekends they serve breakfast until 2pm, so David had the Le Duet – two slices of French toast, two eggs, and 2 strips of bacon.  And I enjoyed the OMG BLT Fried Egg Sandwich, which was made from their same thick homemade bread as the French toast. 

They also have family style dinners on Sundays from 4 – 8:30pm, which includes mixed appetizers, three pastas, salad, and four entrees (call them for reservations). 

I feel like my area south of Gandy is a bit lacking in quality restaurants, so I’m glad to have this one close by!

The Bake of Tampa is located at 5427 Bayshore Blvd, Tampa, FL 33611 and is open 6:30am – 9pm Tuesday – Sunday (they are closed on Mondays).   

Daily Eats – Tampa, FL


Saturday night I met up with my friend Maddie for dinner at Daily Eats.  Since she’s a teacher and I work on weekends, our schedules don’t really match up, so I barely ever get to see her anymore!

Daily Eats is one of many restaurants in the SoHo neighborhood owned by Ciccio Restaurant Group (including Green Lemon, The Lodge, Ciccio’s/Water, and Fresh Kitchen).  They’ve already expanded to open restaurants in St. Pete, Tampa Palms, and Brandon, and have plans to open another Daily Eats & Ciccio’s Cali near Sarasota’s new University Town Center mall. 

For over 50 years, Daily Eats’ spot on Howard was the home to The Old Meeting House, which closed at this location back in 2003.  I grew up just 3 blocks away – and before cell phones, it was about as far as our walkie-talkies would reach.  So when we were kids, my parents used to let my brother and I walk there to enjoy their diner-style food and homemade ice cream.  The Old Meeting House still supplies ice cream wholesale from a new spot on MacDill, but unfortunately they don’t have their own restaurant anymore. 

I was disappointed to see our beloved Old Meeting House close down, but overall I think they’ve done a great job modernizing it into Daily Eats.  It’s been almost 10 years since they opened now, and every time I drive by, they’re packed!  It’s a great place to head for a nice, casual meal. 

They serve burgers, fancy mac & cheeses, salads, and sandwiches, but I almost always end up ordering one of their “Shredder Bowls”.  They have various different bowls served over brown rice and lettuce.  For an upcharge, you can substitute for quinoa or spinach, and you can add all types of meats. 

This time Maddie and I started off by splitting their Tater Hater – tater tots topped with cheese, green onions, tomatoes, bacon, and jalapeños.

We each got a shredder bowl – she had the New York Bleu with shaved NY strip, sautéed mushrooms, red onions, bleu cheese crumbles, tomatoes, crumbled bacon, and Cajun horseradish dressing.  I had the Thai Peanut – with broccoli, carrots, green onions, crushed peanuts, and peanut sauce.  You have the options for two sizes – I got the larger so I could bring leftovers home (I threw the rest in an omelet the next day and it was great!) 

You really can’t go wrong – everything I’ve had there has been delicious.  And for those of you who feel like pancakes for dinner, you’re in luck!  They serve breakfast all day. 

Daily Eats is located at 901 S Howard Ave, Tampa, FL 33606 and is open 7:30am – 10pm Monday – Friday and 8am – 10pm on Saturday & Sunday.     

Thursday, March 26, 2015

tbt Easter Cheesecakes


Since 2008, I've had a tradition of baking a cheesecake every year for Easter.  It started when I was in college – we didn't get a long weekend for the holiday, so I’d stay up in Gainesville and celebrate with my friends.  Those first two years I made the same flavor – apple caramel using this recipe


In 2010 I decided to switch it up and try out this amaretto cheesecake.  It came from the book Cheesecake Extraordinaire – the recipe is outlined here on Melinda Lee’s food blog – but I added more slivered almonds to the top.     

After that, I kept up the tradition with my family.  In 2011 I made a chocolate raspberry flavor (and at that point I had a better camera too!) I followed this recipe from Cuisinart, but tweaked the crust to be a bit thicker by using 1½ cups crushed pretzels, 6 T butter, and 4 T brown sugar.  I also added a drizzle of chocolate and fresh raspberries.  

The next one in 2012 was super decadent – chocolate peanut butter.  It was adapted from this recipe from Taste of Home, but I added some crushed pretzels to the crust and decorated the top with Cadbury mini eggs.   Just a small sliver of this one was a total sugar bomb.  

In 2013 I made a pumpkin spice latte cheesecake adapted from Sprinkle Bakes.  If you plan to top it with powdered sugar stripes, make sure to do it right before you serve it, otherwise they will just soak into the cheesecake and disappear.  

It was really easy to add the stripes and made it looks super fancy!  Just cut strips of parchment paper and lay them over the cake, then dust sugar over. 

Last year in 2014, I made a carrot cake cheesecake, which I think is my favorite yet!  It was adapted from Secret Copycat Restaurant Recipes – which copied it from the Cheesecake Factory.   Carrot cake is my favorite – especially with cream cheese frosting.  I added some shredded carrots and chopped walnuts to the top.  The crushed pineapple kept the cake nice and moist. 

I’d love to just repeat last year’s recipe again – but I’m trying to bake a different flavor each year.  Lance’s sister Brandi and her husband Jeremy will be in town from Idaho this year which will be exciting!  Any suggestions for what kind I should make this year?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Hard Apple Cider Pork Chops


Pork chops were buy-one-get-one-free at Winn Dixie this week, so we’ve got more than we know what to do with now.  Last night I tried out a new recipe.  I’ve had pork with apples before, but this one also used a bottle of hard apple cider to infuse it with even more apple flavor.  It only took a few minutes to throw together.   

The alcohol cooks away, but if you could use just plain apple cider or juice if you’d like too (I didn’t want a whole 6-pack of cider, so I just picked up one bottle from ABC…they probably thought it was weird that I only bought that…)

Hard Apple Cider Pork Chops (adapted from Aggie’s Kitchen)

·        Thin boneless pork loin chops (we cooked 5)
·        1 t salt
·        1 t pepper
·        1½ t fresh rosemary
·        1 t garlic powder
·        2 Golden Delicious apples, chopped into large chunks
·        1 red onion, chopped
·        1 yellow onion (or we used 2 small ones), chopped
·        1 12-oz bottle apple cider
·        Drizzle of olive oil
1.  Mix together salt, pepper, rosemary and garlic powder together in a small bowl.  Season both sides of the pork chops generously. 

2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Place the pork chops on the pan and cook for 4 minutes, or until chops are golden brown.  Cook on the other side for an additional 4 minutes.  Set aside on a plate. 

3. Put the sliced onions and apples in the skillet and season with a pinch of salt and pepper.  Pour in part of the hard cider (about ¼ cup) and deglaze pan while tossing the apples and onions. 

4. Add rest of the cider and let simmer for 5 minutes uncovered until the liquid starts to reduce.  Add the pork chops back to the skillet and cover.  Turn off heat and let sit 1-2 minutes. 

5. Serve pork chops and top with the apple and onion mixture.  We enjoyed ours with a simple salad (we had lots of veggies in our fridge we had to use up!)