Sunday, October 30, 2011

Food Blogger Cookie Swap

To all my fellow food bloggers out there-
If your looking to get into the holiday spirit, you have to sign up for The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap of 2011! 

Only food bloggers can sign up. When you sign up you have to give your url and if you have any food allergies. You are then paired with 3 other food bloggers to swap one dozen cookies with. You can be a food blogger anywhere in the US or Canada! I have already started to research recipes. I will be posting what I decide to make and I will make sure to share with all of you what I receive. 

It's a Be-Witching Time of Year

Scary stories, ghouls, and gobblins. I am terrified of haunted houses and scary movies, but Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. I'm not sure what it is...maybe the trees starting to change, the beginning of the holiday season, or maybe the tricks and the treats. This year I've been making a bit of mischief in the kitchen.

I started by gutting my pumpkin. I love to save the seeds to cook. So when you cut the top off your pumpkin make sure you have a bowl to put your seeds in. Don't worry if you get some pumpkin guts in there to-it adds to the flavor.

Yes, I know I'm wearing xmas pjs- I'm rushing it a little.

This year I decided to use a pair of vampire teeth for the mouth and instead of using a regular candle-use an electric tea light. I was able to get one that changes colors so my pumpkin will flash different colors!

 My dog, Bentley, tried to wear the vampire teeth first, but it just didn't work out for him. He does look pretty scary though!

My next Halloween project was Haunted House Brownies. I know your like what is she talking about, Haunted House Brownies. I found a brownie mix that came with 2 throw away molds of a house. The box contained everything needed to make a scary looking brownie house good enough to sink your fangs into. 
After letting the brownie houses cool I was able to get them onto a plate. Let the decorating begin! Here's how my Haunted Houses turned out!

There's scary ghosts, spiders, and tombstones... what else could scare you away from eating these brownie houses?!?! Until next Halloween, be safe and don't eat to many treats. 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Linvilla Orchards-Media, PA

Nothing says fall like going to an orchard and picking out a pumpkin. As a small child I used to visit Linvilla Orchard in Media, PA every year.  Just recently, I went back with my family and was amazed to see the changes. In 1914, the Linvill family had a dairy farm. They would ship their products to Philadelphia. To make more money they started an orchard and sold produce from the front porch. They became so popular they moved the store into their barn.

Unfortunately, in 2002 they barn (picture above) burnt down. The Linvill family still operated the orchard and has plans in the future to rebuild it.

There are now 2 new buildings that Linvilla Orchards operates out of.

The reason why we go to Linvilla isn't for the pumpkins, but their pies! My mom loves their Apple Carmel Walnut. They offer over 30 types of pies! The one picture I don't have is the pie! But take my word for it-they are great! We've been going to Linvilla Orchard for over 10 years!  They have a small market carrying local produce and ofcourse any seasonal fruit they have. 

The fall is the best time to go and see their pumpkin displays in "PumpkinLand."

Pumpkins just have a spell binding way about them. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Village Whiskey-The 2nd Time Around

On my previous trip to Philly I made a stop at Village Whiskey, but this time I had to stop again! Crazy-I know. I just couldn't get enough of their duck fat fries and wanted to try some other things on their menu that I just couldn't stuff in last time.

As a starter, we had the pickled herb cherry tomatoes. This comes with whipped ricotta, black olive tapenade, and toasted sourdough. What a great way to start a meal. I am not a huge fan of cherry tomatoes. These were way different then expected. The skin was peeled off and they came in a small ball jar. The whipped ricotta was so fresh tasting. I loved spreading the ricotta and then putting a tomato on top.

This time around instead of having a sandwich I had the cobb salad- ROMAINE, AVOCADO, BLACKENED CHICKEN, BACON, BLEU CHEESE. So tasty and very filling. 

I have to compliment the chef-the chicken was tender and had the best taste! I'm not sure what the dressing was, but it was light and complimented all the flavors of the salad. The cherry tomatoes on the salad also had been peeled. 

It was a delightful meal. I was fully satisfied and would return again for a great meal with anyone who would join me. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Morning Glory Diner-Philadelphia

If you're from Jersey or Pennsylvania I think you are pretty much born with the love for diner food in your veins. There's just something special about being able to order breakfast at any time of the day. Growing up in Jersey I always went to the local diner with family and friends. When I was old enough I even worked in a diner. So it brings me to discuss my latest diner find-just mere blocks from South Street in Philly-Sam's Morning Glory-A Finer Diner.  All those years I went to South Street and lived in Philly, I was missing this precious gem. This is a must visit if you are in the Philly area.

We order two coffees and they came in what I would say looks like camping coffee cups. Pretty good diner coffee too!

Let's get down to the grub. I did a little research before going to eat here to see what their most popular items were. My mom ended up ordering the Monkey French Toast: challah French toast stuffed with caramelized bananas & mangoes,topped with caramel sauce and whipped cream 
This was some really great french toast. Yes I had a bite or 3. Neither my mom or I eat french toast that often, but this I could eat everyday. The fruit inside really made it. My mom really enjoyed the caramelized bananas. 
I, on the other hand ordered the Foccacia Breakfast Sandwich: with a fried egg and cheese, and bacon served with potatoes.
I was expecting this sandwich to be really heavy like a normal breakfast sandwich. This was light and fluffy. The bread was fresh! What does pretty much everyone use on their potatoes? Ketchup! Well Morning Glory makes their own homemade ketchup!!!! 

Crazy I know. I was in shock too. Fresh, homemade ketchup. I'm in love with this place. 

Morning Glory is pretty small so the earlier you get there the better. Where I was taking the picture from is pretty much the back of the diner. Morning Glory is a must eat for a great meal that will get you going for the day. Eat on!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Prickly Pear-Where Orlando Meets The American Frontier

Prickly Pear is just one of many restaurants owned and operated by Funky Monkey Incorporated. The two owners started small and now there are 6 different places! Most recently some of my friends joined me on my venture to Prickly Pear in the Eola Sactuary, which is very close to Lake Eola.

I'll be honest, I didn't really know what to expect when I read a tagline that said," Where Orlando meets The American Frontier." Are we talking saloon? Burgers? BBQ? What did people really eat back then? Roadkill? Then From the website it states, "Fresh American Cusine."

After a bit of trouble finding the place, I gave in and called the restaurant. After being passed around a bit and the employees asking a man on the street where was Pine Street, (which is the street they are off of) they got me there. To avoid parking frustration-it's only 5 dollars for valet. Wondering down the street, make sure you look up at the black awnings, that's where you will find the name of the restaurant-there's no other signs or name on the actually building.

 Finally- I make it there, so I'm not in the best of moods, but I'm happy to be with friends and to sit down and enjoy a good meal. The decor is modern meets western. Every table has a small cactus as a center piece and glasses are small mason jars. This isn't finger lickin' food, think more sophisticated.

Our waiter presents us with menus and opens to the wine page. Pretty expensive. What no other drinks or drink menu? Not that I don't love wine, because I do. After the waiter came back we asked about a drink menu (because the table next to us had one) and at first he said no, well what about mixed drinks, or beers, we pressed him. He told us to wait one moment and came back with a drink menu for us! That was a bit frustrating. There is a happy hour everyday from 5-7. $5 wines and beers.

Ok-so then we got into what we should order. For an appetizer we decided on the duck quesadilla. For one of the people in our party-it was their first time trying duck, which is always exciting.

House hickory smoked duck, jack cheese, crema, buttered tortilla, cranberry
 and pear chutney

I loved this duck quesadilla! The duck was cooked just right, not overly greasy! The cheeses were really creamy and believe it or not I loved the cranberry chutney with it. My guests were not to sure about it-not your typical quesadilla!!

For my entree I decided on the Bison Burger:
Blue cheese, caramelized onions, balsamic, green leaf lettuce, tomato

I don't think I could tell the difference between Bison or Beef, but it was a pretty tasty burger. The balsamic and blue cheese goes well together. It's a large, messy burger. The fries tasted like they had old bay seasoning on them, which I really love. 

My friends tried the Bulls Eye Burger-
Angus burger, smoked cheddar cheese, bacon, serrano mayonnaise, BBQ onions, mix lettuces

There were no complaints and no left over on these burgers either! I couldn't even sneak a bite so they must have been pretty darn good too!

Now comes the headache (again)-it's time to leave and we wanted to split the bill. I thought it was pretty simple -2 bills, 4 burgers, and split the appetizer. My friend Jordan ended up with the whole appetizer and my bison burger. After I asked the waiter to fix the error, it came back and still had my bison burger on her bill. Luckily we had enough cash to give her as I didn't want to have more of an issue. I bid my farewell to my friends and waited to get my car from valet. I thought I had won the lotto at first, when the car pulled up and it was a new black BMW. I shook my head no and the young valet went to research for my car. Finally, my red talon was retrieved. Overall, Prickly Pear was a great meal, just make sure you bring along some tylenol to go with your meal.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bahama Breeze-Yes another chain Restaurant

Ok-you're probably thinking I've lost it right about now, seeing me review another chain restaurant, but I promise you will be just as surprised as I was. I usually stray away from the chains, recently I've found some pretty good meals that will more than satisfy your taste buds (plus I had a $10 off coupon). Bahama Breeze here I come!

First, lets start with this delicious drink-the Bahama rita! The picture is what sold me, but when I received a drink in front of me that actually looked like the picture and tasted even better I was really impressed.

For an appetizer we ordered the shrimp and lobster quesadilla. You can actually see the chunks of lobster and shrimp. It's a pretty filling appetizer so make sure you save room.

For my entree I had the grilled tilapia tostada-3 cheeses melted on the flatbread, bed of greens, avocado, a tropical vinaigrette dressing, and grilled tilapia. So yummy and filling. It is perfect when the weather is hot and your hungry, but the heat is holding you down from eating a huge heavy meal.  The flavors just blend together so nicely, savory and sweet.

Nick had the mahi-mahi, a selection from the fresh fish menu, served with a choice of one side. He picked the garlic mashed potatoes. Vegetable for that evening was green beans. I didn't sample his meal as I was stuffing my face, but as usual he finished his plate, so from a man's viewpoint-it was good.

Until my next dining venture, stay hungry!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Flemings Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar- Sarasota

If your looking for a great cut of steak, one word, Flemings. Flemings, is a well known chain that has 64 locations serving mainly steak and seafood. The first location was in Newport Beach, California. My Flemings experience took place in Sarasota, FL. I was lucky enough to join some of Sarasota's finest foodies to try out the 5 for $6 till 7 and some other specialities occurring at Flemings.

The operating partner, Dean Defebo, presented us the recent changes flemings had made- Food now appears at the beginning of the menu, not hidden behind the drinks, there are small plates that Flemings is now offering, a memorable meal special, and new drinks! Let the excitement of the night begin!

First, I was presented with the Stiletto martini! For the month of October this drink has been chosen to support The Avon Breast Cancer Crusade and 100% proceeds go to raise funds for the charity. An added bonus-this drink is only 99 calories-I will drink to the charity and less calories! This wonderful martini is made with gin, blackberries, sugar free monin, lime juice, and diet ginger ale!

Moving on to the small plates-These dishes can be shared as an appetizer or maybe you are not looking for that huge cut of meat, but would prefer to try a few small dishes-these are the perfect remedy.

First small plate-Wicked Cajun Barbecue Shrimp. Be prepared for that cajun heat, but it's not over bearing. These shrimp were really tasty and the avocado salad was a nice touch.

Who doesn't love fried food-gulity pleasure! You can fry almost anything. The next thing in front of me was lobster tempura. This used to be an appetizer-now a small plate. This lobster just melted in my mouth.

Seared ahi tuna was the next dish. Honestly this is only the second time I've tried tuna. It doesn't have a fish taste at all. Here at Flemings they coat the tuna in black pepper so it has a bite to it, but tastes extremely fresh. It is served alongside freshly made fried wontons!

After tuna came the scallops which were seasoned perfectly. I could have ate the whole plate, maybe you might want to keep this plate for yourself.

The next small plate, New Zealand lamb chops was modified from an entree. This was so tender. My mouth is watering just thinking about the food.

Now its time for the meats-silced filet mignon served over a risotto. This dish would make any Italian mother proud. The risotto had a great taste to compliment the filet mignon. 

Last, but not least, filet mignon skewers served with a hollandaise sauce. I think this was one of Nick's favorites. The meat was so tender, cooked to perfection.

The next thing I was able to sample was the memorable meal-served for one (49.50) or two people (99). It's a complete meal served with:
Spinach Salad
warm maple-cured bacon dressing, red onion julienne, gala apples and goat cheese crumbles
Beef Flemington & Shrimp Scampi 
filet mignon baked in a light pastry crust with mushroom duxelle, served with sautéed jumbo shrimp, oven roasted tomatoes and lemon garlic butter
(Each guest will receive this entrée)
Roasted Vegetable Trio
baby carrots, broccoli and curried cauliflower lightly tossed in a kalamata olive vinaigrette
White Chocolate Bread Pudding 
with bourbon crème anglaise and vanilla bean ice cream

I was only able to sample a small piece of the meal, but you can bet I wanted more. For the quality of food Flemings cooks this is for sure to be a memorable meal at such a low price. 

One last thing I have to mention is the new 46 diamonds wine that has just been released. I am usually not a huge red wine person, but this without a doubt is something you must try if you go to Flemings. This year Flemings partner is Salvatore Ferragamo of II Borro. 

My dinning experience at Flemings Sarasota was a memorable meal, enjoying new plates, making new friends, and with wonderful service. I highly recommend looking for a Flemings location near you.