best grouper sandwich in the universe

I hate that I am neglecting my baby blog. Its such a shame! But an even bigger shame is neglecting my appetite… and not getting my share of yummy eats around here!! I need a raise, WHOLE FOODS. I know you’re making millions, but giving it all away to third world countries. Ugh. Just the more reason to branch out…. and work for ME…. NUMBER ONE. That disgruntled employee was onto something…. he may have gone about it pretty ridiculous but he had some points…….just sayin’. 🙂

Hubby and I went back to South Florida to take care of some biz… but while there we went to Clearwater Beach. So nice! Our favorite brother-in-law took us to his number one spot in his old stomping grounds: Frenchy’s Saltwater Cafe. Having his share of libations that afternoon, it must be said he was a tad inebriated… nonetheless I still think he would’ve been just as adamant about us enjoying our meal sober. He was so clearly bothered by the fact that I might NOT enjoy my grouper sandwich… because I am hard to please in the food department. Let’s just get one thing straightened out.. I know what I like HOWEVER, I am always apt to try everything and anything at least once. I think to be a critic is not to judge before experiencing. So after many minutes of building up the most amazing grouper sandwich in the entire universe that we would ever sink our teeth in, we finally ate what I think is one of the yummiest grouper sandwiches I’ve had. So there. Hubby and I shared the SUPER GROUPER sandwich, blackened:

Frenchy's Saltwater Cafe Clearwater Beach FloridaA larger portion of their original grouper sandwich. The only complaint (of course, right?) I do have is that it really wasn’t that much bigger than the originals our table mates had. If I am going to get something super sized….. lay it on me!

I miss Florida for the beach and seafood. I don’t even want to think about eating seafood here in this landlocked arena of barbecue. If anyone out here in middle Tennessee has a recommendation… lay it on me!

Until next time..

enjoy your grouper sandwiches, Floridians! 🙂
C

piece of cakes

I have been…. not blogging. But! I have been so busy decorating cakes at my day job.. and its all good. We are broke and not eating anything interesting… but I promise myself to start cooking soon. There are some fine eateries within minutes of us. One, I went to with a friend and ate there when I was in town for work: Blue Coast Burrito. And they give WF employees (whose name is Caroline S.) a 10% discount. Whaaaaaaat? Hollaaaa. Tell them I sent you. 😉 Ok, and those who live in Nashville or have….Zaxby’s anyone? This whole chicken fingers craze here?! What is UP with this!? It’s soooo….southern? Ha. I don’t even know! It’s kinda amazing!

So, I am pretty thankful this time around I am able to do more decorating – something I know I am good at and I can only get better doing. And the fact of the matter is, I really genuinely love doing it. Seriously, guys, I draw on cakes. Psh. Please. Does it get anymore Simon. It’s all a stepping stone…. 🙂 Hopefully soon I can get organized enough in my self to start something on my own. That isn’t an official statement… don’t hold me to it just yet.

But if anyone is interested out there in Nashvegasland… I can make cake… and decorate…. So if you like homemade buttercream and you want a cake… holla at me! 😉 I am for hire!

Here’s a few recent creations:

There’s a vineyard (whaaaaaaaaaaat) like 15 minutes from our place. Yes, Arrington Vineyards is owned by Kix Brooks of Brooks & Dunn and 2 other wine nerds and businessmen. I am documenting this on the blog so I hold myself to getting around to visiting the place. They have hot air balloon rides. Amazing.
Next best thing to living (& probably starving) in Napa. I’ll take it!

Other than that, Nashvegas is treating us well. As well as it can be. Considering we are sleeping on a borrowed air mattress. 😛 Ahh to be in love (with no shame) and living the dream!

enjoy your meals and contact me if you want a cake!

C

persian persuasion

The one interesting thing about moving around so much is the spectrum of people you meet. It’s not like we meet the same lot of people over and over again. For instance, in Nashville folk were uber friendly, Chicago people were a little scruffier but nice once you got to know them – like they were trying to act like New Yorkers but deep down they couldn’t fight the urge to be the sweet people they are – and South Florida? Um?…it is very international… and mostly on the elderly end.

Working retail, especially in a “high-end” grocer (loosely quoted), there’s the weirdos who come in for their hemp bread and patchouli, but aside from that, people from different cultures. I’ve gotten to know a wonderful Persian woman, who happens to be vegetarian and a master cook. Perfect that she works at a grocery store that more or less caters to alternative diets, she shops for her vegetables and vegan cheese, which she says is really good.

She has owned her own Persian restaurant, written a cookbook and now… makes food for me. How did I get so lucky?

I went to her house for lunch and left not only tipsy from her wine, but so tummy happy from her food I could’ve floated home.

Samosas, spinach-stuffed filo, saffron rice, tabouli (or tabbouleh)…. she is brilliant.



And for dessert? Not only fresh fruit but rosewater ice cream with pistachios. Perfection.

…of course, she brings me her nothing less than fabulous hummus and falafel paste and tells me how to make the falafel. “Little bit of oil in the pan, roll it up like a golf ball and poke your finger through the middle.” Done.

The woman is exquisite!

..enjoy your Persian meals!

C

 

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baby’s first cake

Somehow out of this whole journey of culinary school, working in a bakery, now working retail and pretending its a bakery, I have developed some cake decorating skillz.

Actually, when I worked for the amazing Cakes Plus in Chicago, I liked decorating. It was like…wha’?..I get to draw on cake with colored icing and get paid? Not that cake decorating sets you up financially, but it is a creative outlet – which I desperately need in my life. Nor is it the most glamorous job, however you see it on t.v. Food coloring-stained pants, shirts, aprons….hair forever in a tizzy. Not cute.

Well, I more or less forced my cake onto our friend’s baby’s 1st birthday party.

I went to Michael’s to get fondant. I KNOW. I was determined to fight my outright disgust and just try it out. Well, little did I know what I was up against as far as price. Our little budget was not ready for fondant. 86 that. So real buttercream I made.

And…by the by.. having the patience, talent and steady hand to draw something on a cake..in my biased opinion..is more endearing. 😉 No offense to those crazy, perfectly intricate hand-crafted designs from fondant/gum paste. Better artists than me.

I was up waaaaay past my bedtime mixing butter and sugar and making marble cakes and Shayne making cupcakes. But alas, Saturday morning I sat down with my wheat bagel globbed with cream cheese, bags, tips, colored icing and did my thing… as Shayne did his. 🙂


Cream 3 cups powdered sugar with one cup butter for 3 minutes in a stand mixer with whisk attachment, add 1-2 tablespoons whipping cream and one tablespoon vanilla extract (clear). Voila.



I love doing this stuff!


You can almost make out my sketch…. 🙂


Considering the guy has no pastry experience, hubby did a dang good job on these cupcakes! (Ok, the pink ones I totally did… I was trying to do the Magnolia swirl).

All considering, I think Miss Cari liked her very hot pink cake. And really, that’s the only opinion that matters.


…enjoy your birthday cakes!

C

drive thru ‘za

Can you believe it……..I am actually posting from my phone. I need to, obviously, number one…get out more. But number two, blog more.
Thank you WordPress App!!! 🙂

So, we’ve been on this suffocating budget and all…stretching leftovers to their limits and stopping for steals and deals.
Here’s how we scored tonights dinner and possibly, tomorrow night’s too, for under $6. (Hey, I never said all featured cmyfood was going to be glamorous….)

After doing our laundry at the washateria, driving along Boynton Beach Blvd. we spotted a drive thru.
The pizza drive thru.
Really?!

I have seen this before…many moons ago in my hometown in Texas.

Mr. Gatti’s….anyone…anyone?….

Could we possibly forgive ourselves for passing up a large pepperoni pizza for $4.99!?

I know…… I saw the little grecian guy, “pizza, pizza” and we were hopeful it would be a step up from Caesar’s.

image
$4.99, I’ll take it!

After chit-chatting with the uber friendly drive thru attendant, Georgio’s Drive Thru pizza has been open 4 weeks, celebrates franchise openings nationwide and apparently enjoys giving away free pie…’cuz here’s our freebie:

image

Now, I cant exactly vouch for how you’re going to feel afterward buuuuuut……
Not too shabby for dinner under $6. Not to mention, dinner for tomorrow for us freegans.

Enjoy your cheap meals…

opa!

In the ugly midst of our money hoarding, we took a much needed date night and ventured out in Royal Palm Beach for some Greek fare at I’m Greek Today. I love hummus. (and yes, that’s what the restaurant is called).

The menu was peppered with Greek jargon… but old favorites like moussaka, falafel and hummus stuck out. So there we sat, investigating the menu outside the tiny restaurant where inside mounted flat screens played a slideshow of Greece countryside and ancient cities. Quite comical.

It wasn’t spectacular but it wasn’t bad. Since watching Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, I’ve become an even pickier critic. I think to myself, What Would Gordon Ramsay Say? And we sit there and in ignorant mockery, fake sloppy English accents and call everything “crap.”

He would’ve said my beef skewers were “crap” and too tough, and the salad they lay upon is at best limp. Shayne’s falafel would’ve been too soft, no crispy outside. There was the fact that we hadn’t been out to dinner in awhile… I was hungry for decent food other than tired soup and grilled cheese.

And here you have it:


tzatziki:


hummus:


salad and french fries…I know?… guess that’s how they do it in Greece…

As if that wasn’t enough, right next door a cupcakery!! Behold the cuteness, Cupcake Cottage.

http://www.cupcakecottage.net/


minis!


enjoy your Greek meals and mini cupcakes…

C

 

dedicated to J.Henderson

feliz año nuevo

Happy 2011!
I love the part in Forrest Gump when Forrest and Lt. Dan are in a bar in NYC and the girls come up to them and the one says (in her dirty NY accent), “Don’t ya just love New Years… you get to start all over. Everybody gets a second chance.”

My humble little blog was good to me in 2010… lots of adventures were had. Hopefully 2011 boasts many more foodie funsies. I mean, looking back.. cmyfood did lots of traveling… Los Angeles, Texas, Napa Valley, Puerto Rico, Miami, The BahamasSan Francisco, New York City…  we were lucky.
I’m hoping 2011 will bring more eats in the way of international fare. But, unless I win the lottery….
One resolution is definitely to get out here in SoFlo and dig into the dining scene.
So, to start things off I am reporting about a restaurant my hubby and I just discovered in our neighborhood. I think I had heard of this place before in passing convo but we found it on our phones, looking up local mexican food restaurants in the Yelp app. Oh my god, smart phones for a food fiend like myself is a revelation. And to make matters even better – our new GPS tells us points of interest in proximity to our location… including food… by type of cuisine!
Ridiculous.
So anyway, the place: Margaritas. I’m sure lots and lots of people go here but there was hardly a butt in the dining room when we went. 

pineapple orange margarita @ Margaritas in Boynton Beach

Just some highlights: an all you can DRINK brunch (sound familiar?), add $9.95 to any entree. Happy hour 4-7 & 10-close, $1 tacos and drinks. Not only are the margaritas refreshing, the tacos are zesty. They have chile con queso on the menu and its actually yellow cheese. And avocado chips! We didnt try these but I was very intrigued, they caught my attention and will be had upon our next visit.

Its been quite the task finding a quality tex-mex joint, considering I’m from Texas and all I ate growing up was sloppy plates of enchiladas and queso dip. But, Margaritas is my new fave in SoFlo.

Enjoy your meals in 2011!

florida cream cake

Besides red velvet, my favorite cake ever is the Boston Cream Pie. You know, I have no idea why it is called “pie” and not cake. Weird Bostonian lingo?

Anyway, I remember having my 18th birthday in the college dorms and my roommate surprised me with a BCP after falling in love with her mom’s cream pie she made for us when we went to visit her house and family a few weeks prior. 

Well, I’ve never made one, so having a dinner party at a friend’s house was my excuse to make my version of the cream pie I’ve had in my mental file cabinet for awhile now. I dont know about you but I love the dark chocolate and orange combo. That’s kinda how this came to life.
Florida Cream Pie!
My whole thinking behind this was to infuse every aspect of a traditional BCP with citrus elements. OK, I did take the short cut with a cake mix and prepared pastry cream, but I made the ganache myself.  Not gonna lie, I don’t make too many cakes from scratch because I feel like I can make a cake taste damn good with a box mix. I had about 4 or 5 citrus fruits (grapefruits, tangerines and oranges) on hand, just so I had enough zest and juice. I used the juices and zest interchangeably throughout making this. It was a little rando.
In addition to a dash of cinnamon, a tablespoon of creme fraiche and a tablespoon each fresh squeezed citrus juices, I added their zest to the cake mix. After the 9” cakes baked and cooled, I squeezed the juice of half a grapefruit over both cakes so the yummy juice could soak in. I bought pastry cream at work and added a teaspoon of almond extract, more zest and juice of the fruits and about a tablespoon of whipped topping. 


I bought a 1/2 pound block of high quality, dark chocolate and grated it, while heating up 7 oz. heavy cream on the stove with a dash of cinnamon, orange zest, teaspoon of almond extract and a splash of orange juice. Just before the cream came to a boil, I poured it over the chocolate and whisked until the chocolate was melted and smooth.
The cake was assembled and left in the fridge to set. After about 4 hours, the silky smooth blanket of ganache was poured on top. 


The cake did a little tilt as the night wore on. But, tasted good nonetheless! 

Enjoy!

tortilla soup

I’m still here! And cooking! I really will literally quit my day job and become a full-time writer. 2011, you know what’s up.
So, a fun thing for me to do is replicate dishes from movies. Ratatouille from ‘Ratatouille’, Thomas Keller’s sandwich from ‘Spanglish’ and…soup.
Well, I really love the movie “Tortilla Soup.” My husband rented it for me awhile back… back when we weren’t the Stephenson’s yet… and when I was dipping my toes into this whole cooking thing. He said I would really like all the food in the film. Lucky me, I found it for sale at Blockbuster a couple weeks ago – they have those 5 for $20 tables, you know. We have an addiction to those tables. But, seriously, sometimes you do find a few good ones. 🙂
Anyway, since watching it again I’ve had this itch to make tortilla soup.
Finally!:
Chicken, Tortilla & Cerveza Soup

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 jalapenos, diced (with seeds)
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups beer (I used Corona Light)
1 (14.5 oz) can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 (14.5 oz) can black beans, drained
1 (14.5 oz) can corn, drained
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
juice of 2 limes
s+p
handful of chopped cilantro
1 avocado, pitted + diced
tortilla chips

In a large saucepan/stockpot, heat the oil on medium. Add in the diced onion, season and let sweat for 2 minutes.
Once the onion is tender, add the jalapenos and garlic. Season with salt + pepper (1.5 tablespoon of each). Stir and let cook for 2 more minutes. Pour the broth, beer, tomatoes, tomato paste, beans and corn into the pot and bring to a roaring boil. (If you like, season again with salt + pepper, only about a teaspoon of each this time). Once it starts to boil, lower the heat to a mild simmer and add the chicken breasts. Cook for approx. 20 minutes, until chicken is done. When the chicken is done, remove it and shred on a cutting board using a fork (or your fingers — once it’s cooled!). Add the shredded chicken back to the pot along with the lime juice and cilantro; stir.
Serve piping hot! with diced avocado and tortilla chips. 

It was a record breaking dinner, I think we finished our bowls in under 2 minutes. Other comments: I think the beer was fantastico! It was a last minute decision. OK, confession, I didn’t buy enough chicken broth. I panicked, looked in the fridge and grabbed the 2 month old Corona we had and in it went. I am a firm believer in improvisation. When I can, I will. When I can’t, I still do.
¡Buen provecho!