Wednesday, August 29

(not so) Famous Roasted Salsa

I am an admitted salsa snob. I want it to be tasty, spicy, and have a depth of flavor. 

Never having written down my salsa recipe- I find this difficult. I usually just estimate the amount of pepper/onions by the amount of tomatoes that I have on hand. (This will make about 2-3 cups of salsa.) 

 5 tomatoes
1/2 large onion
1 poblano pepper
1 habanero pepper***
3 garlic cloves
1 lime
1/4 to 1/3 cup cilantro
kosher salt to taste
olive oil

Cut your tomatoes in half, slice the onion in 1 inch pieces, leave the garlic cloves whole in their skin, and toss of all it, including the pepper(s) of your choice, in about a teaspoon of olive oil. Just enough to coat and sprinkle with kosher salt. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes at 400 degrees or until soften and fragrant. When finished, take the pan out of the oven and walk away for 30 minutes. Do some chores... 

I find that it is best to finish this salsa once the ingredients have cooled to room temperature.

Get out that food processor (to be known as the FP from here on out) and toss in the tomatoes, onions and cilantro. Extract the roasted garlic from its skin, sprinkle with a tiny pinch of salt, and squeeze your lime juice into the bowl. Cut open your peppers, remove the stem and seeds. SMELL IT; from here you should be able to tell about how hot each pepper is and get a starting point of how much you would like to use initially. Remember: you can always add more of any of the ingredients but once its in there you'll never be able to remove it. 

Here is where the fun begins. Pulse the FP until the mixture is chunky but the slightly thicker than your ideal salsa consistency. Get out your chip and taste it. Does it need more salt? More lime, cilantro? Maybe its not spicy enough. Here is where you can add your second batch of hotness if you only used a partial or one pepper. Pulse until desired consistency. Taste again. Maybe taste one more time just to be sure.  Refrigerate until ready to serve and then just scoop into a bowl and drizzle the tiniest bit of olive oil on the top. Enjoy! 

***Please be careful and use only the pepper that you are comfortable consuming. 

Monday, August 27

Brewburger knows Sunday Funday!

What is better than having FUN on a Sunday?
 Doing it for cheap.

A few weeks ago I noticed a restaurant on Westshore I hadn't seen before;  then I spotted THE SIGN- $2 beers ALL day Sunday. This of course piqued my interest. 

I did a little research and found... not really too much. In April they opened here in Tampa, the predecessor in St. Pete at the start of the new year, each have a facebook page and limited reviews via yelp/urbanspoon and the website is constantly under construction. As frustrating as I find it not to get all of the information that I want (including the menu and prices) before I go to a new establishment, we went anyways- the very next Sunday. If all else fails it's just $2 beers, right?

In the last three weeks, we have been twice! This establishment has a good sized covered patio, fans that lightly mist, a large flat panel TV, allows dogs... The music is a good mix, but relies mostly on classic rock'n roll, the kind you want to sit back and enjoy.

It turns out that Brewburgers lives up to the name where the brews are concerned. For $2 a drink, I was expecting Bud/Bud Light or Miller Light. I was pleasantly surprised. The two dollar offer also includes craft/import beers: Shock Top, Yuengling, Palm, Ace Pear Cider, Strongbow Cider, New Castle, Guinness,  Stella Artois, Spaten Optimator, Tucher Hefewiess, Franziskaner, Kronenbourg 1664 and Cigar City's Jai alai.

For those needing a cheap meal on a Tuesday night, Brewburgers also has a burger special. All burgers are $2, which is about a $2 discount and only includes the burger itself.

I would like to state right here that Brewburgers is not a gastro pub; the food is not amazing. The burgers are slightly on the smaller side and greasy, the fries are curly and crispy, the boneless wings are nuggets of tiny fried chicken in a weak buffalo sauce, the fried green tomatoes are hockey pucks (probably purchased frozen and fried per order), the salad is fresh but not memorable.

*BUT the atmosphere is relaxing, the waitstaff is nice and the BEERS are CHEAP.
Plus its minutes from my house. See you there next Sunday?

Parking: Easy and Free
Price: Cheap! Items range from $2-$12, a meal for two under $25 w/ drinks.
Food: its a bar burger... greasy and inexpensive
Service: Nice & Relaxed.
Website:  <-- doesn't EVER work

  *on Sunday 

Wednesday, August 15

In a Pickle?

I don't eat a lot of pickles at home so I almost never have a jar hanging out in the fridge. The good news is that I almost always have a fresh cucumber. Problem Solved. 

Garlic Pickles 
1 large cucumber, peeled and sliced thinly
1/4 cup white vinegar
3 tablespoons chopped onion1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 cloves garlic, minced

Place the cucumber slices in a medium bowl. Heat 3/4 cup water in a small saucepan with the vinegar, onions, salt, sugar, red pepper flakes and garlic, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil 1 to 2 minutes, stirring. Remove from the heat and pour over the cucumbers and stir to coat the slices well. Place in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes and serve. (recipe from Melissa d'Arabian via Food Network )

Slap these pickles on your homemade Tampa Cuban and you got yourself one heck of a sandwich! Your friends and family should be impressed! 
(unless you have a husband like mine who devours sandwiches and doesn't really think about what he is eating...)

Thursday, August 9

Chicky Chick Peas

Its hard to have great snacks around the house that are not only finger food but figure friendly. Chickpeas are in the legume family. They are high in protein and fiber plus they can be used in salads, stews, hummus.... Why can't they be roasted?

beans, beans good for your heart...
I suggest having this snack when you would usually have popcorn, potato chips or the like. 

Simple Roasted Chickpeas
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (or other coarse salt like kosher salt)
Preheat oven to 400˚ F. Drain and rinse chickpeas. Spread the chickpeas on paper towels and soak up the water until thoroughly dryPlace the dried chickpeas in a medium bowl. Drizzle in the olive oil and toss gently with a large spoon. Sprinkle with sea salt. Toss again. Spread chickpeas on baking sheet in a single layer. Bake 30 – 40 minutes, stirring halfway through, until golden brown and crunchy. Add additional sea salt if needed. Serve.

Usually I make one batch, split it into two snack sized Ziploc bags and eat this as an afternoon snack instead of chips from the vending machine or leftover bagels in the break room. The best part is that you can never get bored because you can flavor them different each time.

Suggested Roasted Chickpea flavors:
Cilantro & Lime
Rosemary & Roasted Garlic
Your Favorite Cajun Seasoning
Lemon Pepper
Cinnamon & Sugar
Curry & Red pepper 
Jalapeno & Cumin 
Old Bay...

Rosemary & Sea Salt
 Get creative and experiment! 

Saturday, August 4

Dine Tampa Bay 2012!

It's here! Tampa Bay's Restaurant Week 2012 started August 3rd and goes through August 17 (which is actually 15 days).

Many well known restaurants, pricey and non-pricey alike, are participating: 717, Mise En Place, Datz, 400 Beach, Side Bern's- just to name a few. This is the perfect time to go to that restaurant that you have been wanting to try! Throughout my "research" (which includes trying to find the best deals and putting a plan together of how I can convince my husband to go to as many of these establishments as possible) I discovered some of these prix fixe menus are better deals than others... Check out the menu before you go! Dine Tampa Bay

Here is how I ranked some the deals I ran across.
No Beuno
 Donatello, Sono Cafe, The V- Crave Sushi
 Red Mesa fair, 400 Beach, Datz, Catch Twenty Three, Seasons 52
717, Mise En Place

For me, I have been wanting to give Wimauma (it's relativity new) a try for a few months now and have never made it to Side Bern's... also I would be completely happy to dine at any of the establishments in the good to great categories above.

Don't miss your chance; Happy Dinning Tampa!