Wednesday, June 30, 2010

10 Egg Omelet at The Peppermill

On our last morning in Sin City earlier this year, we wanted to try a very Vegas style diner.  The Peppermill fit the bill.  It's located near the Riviera, towards downtown.  I had no idea how large the portions would be though.  It was pretty frightening.

Since we all partied pretty late the night before, I figured there was no better way to kick off the brunch than to order a mimosa. 

Did I mention that this place has extremely large portions?  The plate above has a ten egg omelet.  Say what?  That's right, TEN eggs in one omelet.  I couldn't believe someone could eat that alone, but the waitstaff swore they witnessed it themselves.  Ewwww.  Mr. J and I shared one and still finished only half of the plate.  I like my omelets nice and simple and this one had veggies in it.  It was pretty good.  The stuff next to the omelet wasn't worth more than a bite or two.

Someone at the table ordered French toast with a side of bacon.  We ended up splitting most of it since it was so darn big.  Do you see that hunk of butter on that plate?  Oiy!  Everything was good and greasy, which is what we all needed to get on the plane that afternoon (yeah, right).

My favorite part about this restaurant?  Multicolored sugar :-) 

I am still new as this restaurant reviewing thing, so please forgive the weird pictures while I work on consistency and clarity.  Even a professional photographer mentioned how different my point and shoot camera takes two pictures in a row in the same spot and the same lighting. 

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sizzlin' Flatbread at a...Steakhouse?

Smith and Wollensky is an old favorite of ours back in NYC.  Mr. J and one of his best friends LOVE the burgers here.  Juicy, succulent, flavorful.  Needless to say, we had to make sure we stopped by the Las Vegas location while we were in town to celebrate hub's 30th.

The Vegas location has excellent outdoor seating.  The people watching factor was through the roof and quite entertaining, which made our lunch last for hours. 

This is the infamous burger.  Absolutely worth every bite!  

Since we had reservations at a steakhouse later that evening, I wanted to be the odd man out and ordered a flatbread.  This was one of the best I've ever had!  It was unexpectedly spicy, which was a pleasant surprise.  At our table, this plank was cleared out in no time.

Of course, no meal at this steakhouse would ever be complete without my requisite order of fries.  They were nice and crispy, just the way I like it!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Strip, er, Steak...

Mr. J turned the big 3-0 this year and I wanted to celebrate it in a fun way. We met up with a great group of friends for a long weekend in Las Vegas.  For his birthday dinner, we ate at STRIPSTEAK in Mandalay Bay.  Weezermonkey mentioned that the restaurant was great for group dining.  Even better, she mentioned that she was able to use a gift certificate from  When I purchased the gift certificates, I caught the 70% off sale.  That allowed me to purchase $200 worth of gift certificates for $24!  Of course, STRIPSTEAK is the only place that allows you to use more than one of the gift certificates at a time.  Let me tell you, all 8 of us had a blast with the Michael Mina menu. 

I consider myself a french fry connoisseur and was over the moon to see these come out first and foremost (i.e. before ordering anything).

Fresh, warm focaccia arrived next and it was covered with buttery, garlicky goodness.

Most people ordered from the prix fixe menu ($55 for a 3 course meal).  My first course was the Maryland Blue Crab Chowder.  It wasn't as thick as I expected, but it was still very good.

Pictured above is my bone-in ribeye, medium. It was succulent and so worth the extra fat. Seriously. Plus, the kitchen did a great job cooking my ribeye at the right temperature. Please note that the bone-in ribeye was an addtional $10 when ordered from the prix fixe menu ($65). 

The 18 ounce steak above came with three very small side dishes of truffled mac and cheese, and the veggies pictured below.  These sides were teeny tiny and the contrast to the size of the main entree made me giggle.

I wish I took a side by side picture of the steak and the sides.  I believe the mac and cheese and the veggies were literal spoonfuls.

Last but not least, was the dessert: Root beer float with sassafras ice cream and chocolate chip cookies.  I never liked root beer but I fell in love with it just this one time.  The float gave me a refreshing, tingly feeling in my mouth. 

The birthday boy, enjoying his pretty looking dessert.  Right before we left the restaurant, each of us received complimentary caramel and chocolate popcorn.  LOVED them so much that I ate them before I was able to take a picture.  Hehe.

Happy 30th birthday Mr. J!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Mocha and Macarons, Bouchon Style

While we were in Vegas for Mr. J's 30th birthday weekend, I promised the birthday boy that I would grab coffee from anywhere except Starbucks.  There were too many coffee shops in Sin City that we can't find in Tampa, so I wanted to make sure I tried a few of them while there.

We were staying at the Trump Hotel and were planning to meet the rest of our crew at the Planet Hollywood Casino.  So, on our first morning, we left the room and marched down the Strip.  We decided to try and locate a coffee shop in the Venetian.  The stars were aligned that day since we literally walked right into Bouchon Bakery.  ZOMG.  It was a dream come true for this sweet tooth junkie!

I ordered a large mocha and a chocolate macaron.  What a way to start the day!

One day, when Mr. J finally likes the idea of a tasting menu, we will head to the main restaurant.  For now, I am glad I was lucky enough to come across the bakery.

I am embarrassed to say that I thought I've been eating macaroons but they are actually macarons.  There is a difference!

Here's a macaroon:

I love these macarons:

Thank you SunRocks for clarifying and providing the pics above!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Happy 30th Mr. J!

Today is Mr. J's 30th birthday.  It just so happened that his parents are in town for a visit, both for his birthday as well as a friend's wedding this weekend.  Anyway, Mr. J asked his mom if she could create his favorite home cooked meal and then requested that I make his favorite red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting.

So, in honor of Mr. J's special day, I made Cake Man Raven's famous recipe.  Cake Man Raven has a super famous bakery on Fulton Street in Brooklyn.  We used to LOVE stopping by his shop to grab a large piece of his red velvet cake.  Delicious!

Vegetable oil for the pans
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine salt
1 teaspoon cocoa powder (I used 2 teaspoons)
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons red food coloring (1 ounce)
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Crushed pecans, for garnish (optional)

For frosting (use more for multi-layer cake):
1 pound cream cheese, softened
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter (1 cup), softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil and flour 3 (9 by 1 1/2-inch round) cake pans.  In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In another large bowl, whisk together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla.

Using a standing mixer, mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined and a smooth batter is formed.  Divide the cake batter evenly among the prepared cake pans. Place the pans in the oven evenly spaced apart. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through the cooking, until the cake pulls away from the side of the pans, and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

Remove the cakes from the oven and run a knife around the edges to loosen them from the sides of the pans. One at a time, invert the cakes onto a plate and then re-invert them onto a cooling rack, rounded-sides up. Let cool completely.

For Frosting:
In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand-held electric mixer in a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, sugar, and butter on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to high, and mix until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. (Occasionally turn the mixer off, and scrape the down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.)

Reduce the speed of the mixer to low. Add the vanilla, raise the speed to high and mix briefly until fluffy (scrape down the bowl occasionally). Store in the refrigerator until somewhat stiff, before using. May be stored in the refrigerator for 3 days.


Man, check out all of the candles on Mr. J's cake!  I love the fact that his parents shocked him with a greatly timed kiss.  Too cute.

Happy Birthday dear hubby!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Crispy Rice Cupcakes

I found this recipe in Paula Deen's latest issue of Best Desserts.  Mr. J's 'rents were coming to town in the afternoon and I thought I would make some treats.  I liked them but Mr. J said they were just ok.  He's not a big fan of rice crispy treats in general though.  Hopefully you like them!

6 tablespoons butter
2 (10.5 oz) packages of mini marshmallows OR 2 (7 oz) jars of marshmallow crème
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 (12 oz) box crispy rice cereal
3 (2 oz) bottles of multicolored sprinkles (I only bought 2)
1 (16 oz) package of chocolate flavored candy coating, melted

Spray 18 muffin cups w/ nonstick cooking spray. 

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium low heat.  Add marshmallows and cook, stirring constantly, until melted and smooth.  Remove from heat; stir in peanut butter and vanilla.

Add cereal and 2 bottles of sprinkles, stirring gently until combined. 

Using greased hands, press mixture evenly into prepared muffin cups, mounding mixture into a cupcake shape. I hate getting my hands dirty, even when I bake. So, I used two large serving spoons to scoop the mix into 2 muffin pans and 1 mini muffin pan.

Cool for at least 1 hour. Remove cupcakes from pans.

Dip tops of cupcakes in melted candy coating immediately top with remaining sprinkles. I was too lazy to coat the treats in chocolate this time.

Substitutions: For a salty-sweet combination, sprinkle finely crushed potato chips or chopped roasted peanuts over Crispy Rice Cupcakes instead of colored sprinkles.

How do you like to eat your rice crispy treat?

Best $5 Burger in Town

Not sure if my readers are noticing a trend already, but Mr. J and I LOVE to eat.  We also love to hunt down great deals.  One of our best finds in Tampa is the $5 burger from Malio's Prime Steakhouse.  This sucker is massive.  The best part?  Malio's has other great food selections for happy hour to accompany this juicy burger.  All prices I mention are for happy hour only, which runs frmo 3pm-7pm.

I've had this burger so many times in the last year, and it tastes just as good each and every time.  The service is also amazing.  If you come during happy hour, you will more than likely get to meet Malio himself.  Love him!

We went with Mr. J's parents for happy hour today.  Each of us had a burger along with the tower of onion rings ($5).  Battered, yummy.  'Nuf said.

This one is for Wan, who is a fellow bacon lover.  This is the only menu I've seen so far that offers bacon as an appetizer.  That's right, bacon ($5)!!!!!!

The in-laws had Theresa-style shrimp, which is lightly battered with some seasoning and some sort of sauce ($5).

Mr. J was craving fries, so we ordered some ($9).  Alas, these weren't on the happy hour menu but the order was large enough for 4 people.  Totally worth it.

Momma and Poppa J, who are both newly retired and visiting us for a week.  Yay!!!!!

So, where have you seen bacon as an appetizer?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Raider of the Outlet Malls

It's no secret to most people who know me that I love love love outlet malls.  I am not a fashionista (giggle) so I don't care if I am buying last season's styles.  All I really care about is that I buy last season's styles at discount prices.

While Mr. J and I lived in NYC, we made quarterly trips to the Woodbury Common Premium Outlets in Central Valley, NY.  I forget who actually told me about the place, but oh em gee, it is this frugal girl's dream come true.  I mean, how can you not love a mall that has Gucci, Ferragamo, Fendi, Chanel, and Jimmy Choo at discount prices?  ::swoon::  Since we discovered this place, we started a love affair with all outlet malls.  Although I hear only one other outlet mall in the country (I believe somewhere in southern California) can top Woodbury Common's selection of stores, I still find some great designer names at the ones located near us in Florida.  There are three outlet malls within an hour of Tampa, so I am grateful that I get to raid them all every so often.

Yesterday, Mr. J and I went to the Prime Outlets in Ellenton.  He plays in a hockey league at an ice rink that is located right next to these outlets, actually.  This particular outlet mall is always the last on my list preferred shopping destinations.  However, I try to stop by every so often just in case there are some bargains to be had.  This weekend, I scored some great ones!

I went to the outlets looking for a dress to wear at our friends' wedding next weekend.  Long story short, but I basically changed my mind on what I was planning to wear so I spent Thursday and Friday frantically trying on dresses everywhere.  I had no luck at any of my usual places, especially since I only wanted to spend $50 on the dress.  Thankfully, I found this beauty at the J. Crew outlet store.  It was already on sale for $59.99 plus an additional 20% off because it was on the clearance rack.  Yay!

Check out the necklace.  I found it out Charlotte Russe for $6.99.  I was hoping that I would find a matching bracelet, but no.  Mr. J asked me if my outfit was "dressy" enough for the wedding.  I think so, but now he has me second guessing myself.  It's not black tie, or even black tie optional so I think this dress is perfect for an evening reception in a ballroom at a golf resort.  I am planning on wearing my black peep toe pumps with a black clutch.  Thoughts?  Should I wear red pumps with a red clutch instead?  Or some other color?

My other find from J. Crew this weekend was this shirt, which was $20 after the extra 20% off.

Nothing Beats $3 Sangrias

I love deals and make it a point to search for the best ones wherever I go.  Well, I seem to be the queen of happy hour deals around town.  Compared to NYC, Tampa dining is a steal.  The happy hour specials I've run into makes me even more giddy with joy.

The other day, a friend and I met at Ceviche Tapas Bar & Restaurant.  This place is legendary in the area, but no one can top the $3.00 sangrias (red or white, your choice).  Seriously, I was swooning with happiness when I saw the menu at the bar.  There are a ton of yummy tapas selections for the happy hour specials, but my favorite is the fried calamari.  Next to that is the pappas bravas, which are basically fried potatoes.  The best part?  The prices are around $3.50 - $5.00.

If you come here after happy hour, stay for the flemenco dancing.  See the stage pictured above?  There's live music played there frequently.  My friend even told me that every Thursday is reggae night.  Fun!

Not bad for a tapas portion, right?  I apologize for the crappy pictures above.  Alas, I took them after I started on the sangria.  I promise to take better ones next time ;-)

What's the best happy hour special in your town?