Tuesday, July 31

Hyde Park's BOCA: my review

There is this little spot on the corner of Platt and S. Boulevard that just got a whole lot cooler.

For the last few years the restaurant Smoke, an upscale BBQ joint, has been inhabiting this location. Smoke was reviewed pretty well; won some awards... But lets be honest  BBQ  + upscale prices doesn't = a BBQ joint to frequent (or in my case ever go back too).  I noticed last summer that it was closed up, signs outside said "closed for the summer". But it seems this was not the case. Looks like the BBQ idea went up in smoke but foodies like me were rewarded with something much better. 

With Boca, the Owner, Gordon Davis completely renovated the open air building into a chic wooden framed Florida room! This stylish and airy atmosphere reiterates the Boca idea of "local, fresh, seasonal".

Russian Summer Punch
Huckleberry Hound

Whiskey Menu
On a Thursday night I suggested Boca to a close friend I was meeting for dinner and drinks.  After valeting (which is a pain and unwanted- its a fact of life down here in South Tampa) I stepped into this cozy restaurant and immediately started to dread the decision based on the crowded patrons in the lobby. The hostess replied that the wait was an hour and a half- on a Thursday?? - but quickly mentioned sitting outside (it was raining) or at the bar which was first come first serve. I sat at the bar.

Waiting for my girlfriend I was able to peruse the menu and rejoiced over not only the beer & wine list but also the fabulously tempting cocktails. I am not usually the girl to get a cocktail at a restaurant because I am always disappointed and happen to love a glass of red wine or craft beer. Some of the featured drinks included a Russian Summer Punch: champagne, russian standard vodka, fresh berries, crushed ice or a Huckleberry Hound: blueberries, ginger, lime, tito’s vodka- with these promising descriptions who wouldn't give it a try? (While one of these craft cocktails will set you back about $10-$12, please keep in mind that most chains will sell you an $8 drink full of syrup.) The best part of sitting at the bar is getting to watch the bartenders make your cocktail from scratch: hand juicing limes, measuring, and muddling whole, natural ingredients right before your eyes. They are also great about chatting with you, answering all of your annoying questions about what kind of drink they are making the others guests- Best seat in the house!
Fire Roasted Mussels
I only ordered a salad and an appetizer but these two were both expertly prepared. My salad was a mixture of fresh and grilled vegetables lightly dressed with a vinaigrette. The mussels were swimming in a creamy garlic wine sauce topped with an accent of greens and grilled bread. Everything on my plate was perfection; my inner foodie even asked for more bread- which they happily brought.

BKBM (Boca Kitchen Bar Market) Chopped Salad

Give it a try but make reservations unless you want to sit at the bar. Don't forget to check out the Whiskey Menu or just get a shot of the pecan infused bourbon. 

Parking: Valet (at least on Thursdays for dinner)
Price: Mid priced. Items range from $6-$26, a meal for under $20 w/o drinks.
Food: quality drinks instead of quantity, light but rich food.
Service: Chatty & Friendly.
Website: http://www.bocatampa.com/

Sunday, July 15

2012: TO DO list

It's SUMMERTIME and the year is more than halfway over! **I am pretty sure there is more fun to be had out there but since we bought a house back in December our focus has been more on decorating/maintenance.** #joysofhomownership

Every few months I sit down to stake out fun things to do with either my honey or girlfriends...So I think its about time to get back in the swing of things. Can't wait to cross everything off this list!

  • Visit the Aquarium ($5 off if you use your Summertime Savings Card)
  • Summertime Classics Series @ the Tampa Theater
  • Boating &/or Beaching with Friends (at least two more times before the end of summer)
  • Attempt Rocking Climbing
  • Tampa History Museum followed by lunch at the Columbia Cafe
  • Ghost Tour in Ybor
  • Hyde Park Sunday Morning Market & HP Village Live Music Series

Before the end of the year
  • Run my first 5K
  • Urban Bike Tour of Tampa 
  • Visit the Dali Museum 
  • Rock in the Park (when it gets cooler) 
  • Camping
  • Attend a Hockey game before the season ends
  • 1st Friday in St. Pete

A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken.  ~James Dent

Tuesday, July 10

Healthy Peanut Butter Cookies?

Who doesn't love a REALLY good Peanut Butter Cookie? Cookies in general are one of my weaknesses.  I have used a low-cal, sugar-free, healthier ingredient as much as possible... of course I haven't found a substitute for butter yet. 

Here is my slimmed down version:
1 cup Jiffy Reduced Fat Creamy Peanut Butter
1/2 cups Butter
1/2 cups Splenda, Sugar
1/2 cups Splenda, Brown Sugar
1/4 cups Egg Beaters
3 tablespoons Skim Milk
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
3/4 cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1/2 cups All-purpose Flour
3/4 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoons Salt, Table

 Preheat oven to 375
In a large bowl, cream together the peanut butter, butter, Splenda, and brown sugar until well blended. Beat in the egg, milk, and vanilla one at a time. Combine both flours, baking powder, and salt; stir into creamed mixture.

I find it easiest to get consistently perfect
 sized cookies by using a 2' ice cream scoop.
Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into balls. Place cookies 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Press each ball once with fork tines, then do a cross hatch.. (If desired sprinkle regular white sugar or top with a few mini Chocolate chips- this will of course change nutrition content- but well worth it.)
Here is the progression: Scoop, Roll, Press
with fork in one direction and then the other. 
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are lightly browned.