Eating & Drinking Through South Beach

♫Party in the city where the heat is on!♫

Just got back from a trip to Miami Beach with H and L! We had some amazing meals while we were there. The first place we ate was the Ago Restaurant at the gorgeous Shore Club Hotel. I had the Basilicious martini…

and the Al Classico with Lobster and Tomato Basil… The homemade pasta was unbelievable!

Next night’s stop was Larios on the Beach, a restaurant by Gloria Estefan, ♫Where the Rhythm’s Gonna Get You!♫ We shared the red sangria…

and each got Cuban Skirt Style Steak with Chimi-Churri Sauce…

and Fried Plantains with White Rice.

They say the steak will be grilled to perfection and it was! I loved the plantains as well. I’d never had them mashed and made into patties before. After tasting those there’s no going back =)

Our last meal out was at Eden. First up was the Forbidden Fruit…

Then instead of the regular restaurant bread they brought us Crostini with Crab Dip (dairy-free!)

Eden’s menu was really cool in that everything on the menu you could get half size or full size, including appetizers. Make your own tapas anyone? I got the Shrimp tacos…

Field Greens…

and a Tuna Tartare that melts in your mouth!

Thanks for ♫bringing the heat♫ South Beach! We’ll be back soon =)

Cake Batter Pancakes

While trying to pick out toppings for our first Pancake Tuesday (Irish Fat Tuesday) L discovered this post! Meet my new favorite food blogger. Jessica loves sprinkles, bacon, and working out. I think we could be friends =D.

Cake batter pancakes sounded really sweet to me, so I decided to use wheat flour and a different glaze. In my efforts to knock back the sugar a bit, the pancakes didn’t really end up tasting like cake batter haha. They were still good pancakes but next time I’m going all in!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup yellow cake mix (I used the vanilla bean one from Trader Joe’s obviously)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (I used almond milk)
  • 3-4 T sprinkles
  • 1/4 cup So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt Plain
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

Directions:

Mix together flour, cake mix, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. In a separate small bowl whisk together eggs, vanilla, and 1 cup milk. Pour the milk mixture into dry ingredients and stir until smooth. Here you may need to add more milk to get the right pancake consistency, not too thick, not too runny. I ended up using 1 1/2 cups milk.

Heat skillet on medium heat. Using the 1/4 measuring cup pour batter into skillet and cook until little bubbles form on top, 2-3 min. Flip and cook 2-3 min more.

Once the pancakes are done, combine yogurt and syrup together in a small bowl to make a glaze. Again, I’d probably go with the one from the original recipe next time.

Marshmallow Peeps Truffle Brownies

A lot of people hate Peeps. I know a guy who is actually afraid of them! I like Peeps, but prefer mine to be hardened and stale by about 2-3 weeks. The crunch is amazing, try it sometime. It’s weird the things you pick up from your family, thanks Dad! Speaking of which these were adapted from Grandmaman’s cookout brownies. =)

Ingredients:

  • 1 box truffle brownie mix (Trader Joe’s are dairy-free!)
  • 14 Marshmallow Peeps, cut in half (I went the decapitation way)
  • 2 T buttery sticks
  • 2 oz. baking chocolate
  • 1 T water
  • 1 T maraschino cherry juice
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar

Mix brownies according to package directions. Bake as directed and 5 minutes before the time is up lay Peeps across the top. Continue baking until the marshmallows are slightly brown. Let cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting melt the butter and chocolate together. Remove from stove and stir in water, cherry juice, and sugar. Mix well and drizzle over/douse brownies =)

A Runner’s Pie

For those of you who don’t know me personally, I run when I haven’t done a ridiculous thing to injure myself sometimes. As a true running nerd I have Runner’s World sent to my inbox everyday. Recently they had a post on building a better pizza, since we all (runners) apparently eat at least one a month (yep a whole one). With some extra sauce saved from the other day’s meatballs I thought ‘Hey why not?’. There were 6 categories on how to improve a pizza’s nutritional qualities.

  1. Use whole wheat dough (not so revolutionary) and substitute flax seed meal or wheat germ instead of the flour or corn meal you might normally use rolling out the dough (have both stocked in my kitchen, awesome!).
  2. Use marinara sauce which is “rich in lycopene, a cancer-fighting antioxidant.” Homemade is better (also kind of a no-brainer).
  3. The third one is about cheese, which isn’t really negotiable for me. Vegan Gourmet it is!!
  4. Choose lean protein. (Hopefully the meat in the sauce counts?)
  5. “PILE ON VEGETABLES” I will take any opportunity to eat vegetables on something rather than on their own. Modeled mine after this Green Pizza.
  6. “Give your pizza extra pizzazz.” HA. I wasn’t really feeling the chopped nuts they suggested but I did sprinkle on some minced onions and garlic.

Serves 4.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. whole-wheat pizza dough
  • 3 T wheat germ
  • 2 cups broccoli, chopped
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 5 oz. bag baby arugula
  • 1 cup prepared marinara sauce
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese alternative (Vegan Gourmet!), shredded
  • salt, pepper, garlic, dried minced onions to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450F and place rack in the lowest position. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray. Roll out dough on a surface sprinkled with the wheat germ (I usually just do it in the pan to create less mess, but then the extra germ burns… you win some you lose some). Transfer dough to baking sheet and bake until lightly crisp, 8-10 min.

While the dough is firming up, heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Cook broccoli in the water for 3 min or until tender. Stir in arugula and cook until slightly wilted, 1-2 min.

Once dough is ready, spread sauce evenly over crust. Sprinkle half of the cheese over the dough. Distribute broccoli/arugula mixture. Top with remaining cheese. Season with salt, pepper, garlic, onions or whatever else comes to mind. Bake until crust is golden and cheese is melted, 10 min.

Creamy Asparagus Soup with Bacon and Homemade Croutons

Spring is finally here! *knock on wood* While cruising around my local farm stand, Wilson Farm, I spotted the freshest looking asparagus I had ever seen! All of the fruit and vegetables here are amazing. Still a little on my soup kick, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it.

Adding bacon to the soup is definitely the way to go. I love how the smokiness of the bacon cuts into the healthy taste of asparagus haha.
Recipe adapted from Whole Foods and Shape.com
Serves 4.

Soup:

  • 1 TB buttery substitute
  • 1/2 cup frozen chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 medium potato, cut into 1 in. pieces
  • 1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1 in. pieces
  • 1 cup silken tofu
  • 2 TB chives, chopped
  • 8 slices cooked bacon

Croutons:

  • 3 whole grain dinner rolls, cut into 3/4 in. cubes (can really use any bread you have)
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp rosemary

Melt butter in a medium pot over medium low heat. Add onions and garlic until onions are tender and garlic is fragrant, 5-7 min. Add in broth and potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat back to medium low, add in asparagus and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 min. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

While the soup is cooling you have the perfect amount of time to make the croutons. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray large baking sheet with cooking spray. Toss all the ingredients together in a large bowl and then spread out on the baking sheet. Bake until golden brown and crisp, 10-15 min.

The soup should be cool enough to puree now. Add in the tofu. Using an immersion blender (can also use a regular blender if done in batches) puree the vegetables in broth until smooth. On medium high heat bring soup back to a boil. Soup is done!

Ladle the soup into 4 bowls and divide the croutons among them. Crumble 2 slices of bacon over each. As a final touch sprinkle the chives on top.

Grandmaman’s Meatballs

The first time I saw my Grandmaman’s recipe for meatballs I thought “3 pounds of beef?! Who is going to eat 3 pounds of meat?!” (forgetting she often cooked for 15 of us =) Then I went and added a pound of pepperoni haha (something I learned from L’s mom that is a nice addition)… I’m going to Miami in a month and am on a diet I swear. I decided to make meatball subs with some rolls from Dag’s (being from A*town, where else would I get rolls really?) and some “mozzarella”.
Serves an army.

Ingredients:

Meat:

  • 3 lbs. lean ground beef
  • 3 slices whole wheat bread (I was advised against it, but I really don’t do white bread)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 lb. stick of pepperoni, cut into pieces about 1 cm big

Sauce:

  • 4 TB olive oil
  • 4 cups frozen chopped onions (Secret that’s not so secret, I am super lazy. Also chopping fresh onions makes me cry, and not just tear up, we’re talking balling here.)
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp each oregano, basil, & thyme
  • 2 28 oz. cans of crushed tomatoes
  • 28 oz. chicken broth
  • 28 oz. water
  • 2 6 oz. cans of tomato paste
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • celtic sea salt & pepper to taste
  • 16 oz. baby bella mushrooms, sliced

In a large mixing bowl, soak the 3 slices of bread in water for 15 min. Using your hands squeeze and discard all of the water from the bread. Add in ground meat and eggs. Using your hands again, mix well and form meat into balls. I thought about how you’d possibly do this without using your hands and realized while you could maybe get away with a mixing spoon… there’s just no better way. Over the weekend I heard a story about a guy who would only eat his wife’s and mom’s meatballs. Perhaps this is why haha. Set meatballs aside.

In a large stockpot (dutch oven is too small… someone found out the hard way and had to use 2 of them!) heat oil and add onions and garlic. Sauté until soft and golden. Add in spices and mix well. Next add in tomatoes, paste, broth, water and sugar. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Add meatballs and pepperoni to the sauce and continue to simmer for 1 hour. Add in mushrooms 15 minutes before the end of cooking.

I broke out the meatballs and sauce into 3 batches. One for now, one to freeze, and one for some lucky person who lives nearby. Maybe I’ll ask Grandmaman to do a taste test =)

Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes

These are some of my favorite cupcakes to make. Top 5 definitely. My buddy G was throwing a farewell party and specifically requested that I bring a batch. How could I refuse! The cakes are modeled after a “Black and Tan”, typically a drink made from a pale ale and a dark stout. Hello Sam Adams and Guinness! Half of them are frosted with an ale glaze and the other half with a Bailey’s buttercream.
Yields 48 cupcakes.

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:

  • 2 cups Guinness
  • 2 cups Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
  • 1 3/4 cups cocoa powder, separated
  • 4 cups flour
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 TB baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp celtic sea salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups Better Than Sour Cream

Pale Ale Glaze:

  • 1/4 cup Buttery Stick
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 TB pale ale, any type

Bailey’s(not dairy-free fyi) Buttercream:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 3 1/2 confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsps vanilla extract
  • 1/4 + 2 TB Bailey’s Irish Cream

Preheat oven to 350F. Line cupcake pan with wrappers.

Bring Guinness and butter to simmer in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat and whisk in 1 1/2 cups cocoa powder until smooth. Let cool slightly.

Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Beat eggs and sour cream together in another large bowl. Add in sugar and beat until fluffy. Alternate adding Guinness/chocolate mixture and dry ingredients until completely combined. Fill cups 2/3’s full and bake 25 minutes or until tester comes out clean.

For the Pale Ale Glaze beat butter and shortening until fluffy. Add in sugar, vanilla, and ale. Beat until well combined. If the frosting looks normal, you haven’t added in enough beer! It should look bubbly and almost separating. Sounds weird, but it tastes so much better this way… trust me =)

For the Bailey’s Buttercream follow the same steps as above. Since Bailey’s isn’t carbonated this will look like normal frosting. Beat for about 5 minutes to make sure it’s nice and fluffy.

Like I mentioned above, half of the cupcakes were glazed and half were frosted. They both taste amazing… well… so I hear since I can’t have Bailey’s haha. After frosting or glazing, sprinkle remaining cocoa powder on top for decoration.

Sláinte!