Archive for October, 2007

Vacation Restaurant Reviews Part Four

On the second full day of our vacation, we decided that we’d eat at the resort all day since we had paid for breakfast and dinner the previous day and had plans for dinner the next night. After eating breakfast in the room, we first headed to the beach for a few hours. Around noon-ish we headed back to the room for lunch and then retired to the pool for a several hours. While at the pool, the heavenly scent of fried food from the outdoor counter service at the resort, Bleachers, was starting to get to us. So we decided to share an order of chicken fingers and french fries. It was good, just your standard chicken fingers and fries, nothing out of the ordinary, but it did hit the spot.


Since we had lunch and then our chicken fingers and fries “snack” we weren’t hungry again until very late at night. Once again, our only options were room service or The Green Cabin Room (but NOT for those flatbreads…). We ended our evening at The Green Cabin Room where we had some drinks and both had a bacon cheeseburger and fries. Again, your standard burger and fries. Good but not great. The only thing that didn’t appeal to be was the “bun.” Instead of a nice Kaiser roll or sesame seed bun, it was on a piece of focaccia. Just didn’t work for me. I ended up not eating most of the bread.


Next up, two dinners over the next two nights. One very good, one not so much. Mr. Manatee’s in Vero Beach and back to Shutters at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort.



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Vacation Restaurant Reviews Part Three

On our first full day of vacation, we awoke to catch a glimpse of the sunrise from our balcony.


Our plans included to not eat breakfast or lunch out during the week to save some dough but since we hadn’t had a chance to go to the food store yet, we needed some grub for breakfast that morning. For breakfast at the resort, our options were either room service or heading down to Shutters, the table service, casual restaurant on property. Shutters it was….

When we arrived there was only one other table seated besides us, probably because it was so early in the morning, around 8 a.m. or so. The other table seated right across from us happened to be Senator Gravel from Alaska, a Democratic presidential candidate, who had some sort of party at the resort the previous night.

Onto the food…the hubby had Scrambled Eggs, Corned Beef Hash (under the eggs), Potatoes, and an English Muffin. Nothing special but tasty.


I had Scrambled Eggs, Potatoes, and a Croissant. I particularly liked the potatoes because they had peppers and onions mixed in. The croissant was ok, I’ve had better.


By far, this was the best service we had. I believe the waitress’ name was Charlotte. She was super attentive and friendly and didn’t charge my husband for his hot cocoa. When you stay on Disney property, you have the option to buy refillable mugs for about 12 bucks. The resorts will have drink stations where you can fill it up as long as you stay for free, unlimited drinks, hot and cold. Usually they have hot cocoa in the mornings but Vero Beach didn’t and when the waitress saw our mugs, she assumed we filled them with coffee (I did). When the hubby explained his was empty because he thought maybe there would be hot cocoa, she offered it to him for free. Nice!

Good meal, great service, worth a trip if you stay there.

For dinner that evening, I had done my research and had my eye on a few places off property for dinner. We were in the mood for some casual dining that night and heard that the Riverside Cafe was a popular choice among locals.


Located under a bridge, the Riverside Cafe has two rooms, one with just tables and the other with tables, three bars, and live entertainment. We got there after sunset, but apparently, they stop everything to observe sunset.


To start we had some conch fritters and hubby had some clam chowder. The fritters were ok, couldn’t taste much conch, but the sauce served was soooooo incredibly hot that my mouth was on fire! Hubby enjoyed the clam chowder.


For our main entrees, hubby had ribs with mashed potatoes and veggies. He liked everything a lot. I tasted the ribs and I swear they tasted suspiciously fishy to me but he said they didn’t and it was because I was eating fish. The mashed potatoes were heavenly though.


I had fish tacos with a side of black beans and rice. Let’s start with the bad. The black beans and rice were so dry and flavorless I didn’t eat them. The good: the fish tacos were AMAZING!! The fish was a fried flounder and was so incredible tasty I would have been satisfied with just that. And the portions were huge, I had to take one of the tacos back with me (for a yummy lunch the next day).

Desserts left little to be desired. Hubby had key lime pie, his favorite. Neither of us liked it all that much. It had an overwhelming taste of condensed milk. I had a chocolate peanut butter pie that tasted like it had been in the fridge uncovered for several days. Not good.


The service here was the worst we experienced all trip. Our waitress, young and inexperienced, was impossible to get to the table, kept forgetting things, brought us our check without even asking if we wanted dessert and when she finally did bring the check back after we gave her our credit card, she never rung it up. If we were jerks we could have walked right out at that point. When we called her back and said we don’t think you actually rung this up, she was just completely confused.

The food ranged from sub-par to excellent, the atmosphere was fun (had a two guy cover band that were pretty decent), and the service forgettable. I’d definitely go back for those fish tacos but get dessert elsewhere.

Next up, a casual lunch and dinner at the resort.

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Vacation Restaurant Reviews Part Two

After having a very large lunch at Cracker Barrel, we were stuffed. It took us another hour or so to get to our resort from Cracker Barrel and by then not only were we stuffed but we were exhausted. After checking in, unpacking and exploring a bit, we started to get hungry again very late at night. The only dining options at the resort that late at night were at The Green Cabin Room, a small bar with live entertainment and a small menu.

After ordering the drinks we decided to go with the whole-wheat flatbreads. The husband ordered the Grilled Steak, Roasted Shallots and Maytag Blue Cheese flatbread. He liked it but didn’t love it. I took a bite and the cheese was so overpowering, I couldn’t taste anything else. But my opinion isn’t really valid because I don’t even like blue cheese.


I ordered the Fresh Mozzarella, Tomato, Candied (?) Garlic and Torn Basil flatbread. I think it would have been decent without the garlic. There was a ridiculous amount of garlic on it. It was so bad that I had to force myself to swallow one of the last bites as it was just pure garlic. I honestly thought I was going to be sick.


For dessert, we shared a Key Lime Tart. My husband, who LOVES anything tart, really enjoyed it. I thought it was ok, too limey for me. Not enough sweetness.


Needless to say, we did not order flatbreads from here again. The service was fine and the atmosphere cozy, but those flatbreads were just not good.

Next up, breakfast at Shutters at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort and dinner at the Riverside Cafe, a local haunt in Vero Beach.

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Vacation Restaurant Reviews Part One

Hi everyone! I am just catching up with my sleep and unpacking after a week long vacation that ended in the wee hours of Saturday morning. We headed down to Vero Beach, Florida last Saturday and came home Friday night. Our flight was scheduled for 6:55 p.m. out of Orlando to Newark but was delayed til almost midnight due to the weather back here. We didn’t get to bed til after 3 p.m. that night so it’s been a rough weekend!

Back to the vacation! We started off with a few days at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort on the East coast of Florida and ended with two days at WDW staying at Disney’s Pop Century. A LOT of food was eaten and lucky for you I have pics! We flew into Orlando, which is a two hour drive to Vero Beach. We had an 11:00 a.m. flight Saturday morning and because flying makes me nervous I had eaten any breakfast. I did have some chips on the flight though. By the time we landed, got our luggage and our rental car, it was after 3. As we were driving the first hour to Vero Beach there was nothing and we were both starving. Soon enough, we saw signs for Cracker Barrel. I’ve only eaten at this place twice and liked it both times. Good, country cooking. Not great, but good. The husband had never eaten there. Since it was the first place we saw we went.

My husband had the Chicken ‘n’ Dumplings with corn and mashed potatoes.dsc03561_jpg-03.jpg

I had the Fall special, which was chicken and apples topped with Ritz crackers and cheese. Sounds crazy and almost gross but it was good. I had mac and cheese and mashed potatoes as a side.dsc03560_jpg-02.jpg

We both liked our meals but agreed it’s good but not great. Very heavy and filling. I would go back even though I’m not a huge fan of chain restaurants.

Next up, The Green Cabin Room at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort for a late night dinner on our first night….

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Top Chef Siting!!

So this post is semi-food related….. but funny….Ok, before I tell you who I saw, let me explain my celebrity-itis. I’ve haven’t met all that many celebrities in my life, but every time I have it’s been disastrous. I’m not talking I’m one of those people who freak out when they see a celebrity begging for a photo and/or autograph. In fact, the complete opposite happens to me. I completely freeze up. Blubbering idiot, or actually mute idiot. Cases in point:

Case #1 Janeane Garofolo – I go to see her comedy show in 1999 in NYC. Myself, hubby, and my best friend Sue and her hubby all decide to linger after the show because it was crowded. As we leave we see Janeane in the crowd giving autographs. I get her autograph but can’t even utter a thank you. All I can do is stare and think, wow, she’s shorter than me (I’m five feet nuttin’). Say how funny she is! Say anything dummy!

Case #2 Paula Deen – Miss Stick of Butter is at a gourmet food show in NJ I attend. I know she’s going to be there, in fact, SHE’S why I’m there. She walks right by me on her way up the stage, saying hello to everyone. I could touch her I’m so close. Again, I can’t even say hello, nothing. Just stare at her like a freak with a big, stupid grin on my face.

Case #3 – Harry Connick Jr. – This by far has been the most disappointing celebrity experience of my life. I have loved HC since I was in high school, have seen him in concert numerous times, front row center for his Broadway debut in Pajama Game, have been a member of his fan club for years (yes, dork) – I heart him. So after seeing him in Pajama Game, I get a tip he signs autographs after the show at the side stage door. I go with my mom and mom-in-law and there he is in his glory. When he gets to me, I hand him my playbill and stare and stare and stare and say nothing. Meanwhile the two moms are hitting me and muttering under their breath to say something. I’ve been waiting for this moment for over 15 years and I blow it. After bragging for weeks to my husband how I’m going to ask for a hug.

So as you can see I clam up when I see celebrities I like/love. Now I’m a HUGE fan of Top Chef since the very beginning. Last season, my favorite chef was Sam Talbot. I think, but am not sure, but he came in third or fourth. I know he has two restaurants in NYC currently. So I’m at Newark Airport Saturday waiting for my flight for my vacation to Florida and am looking around the book shop.

And. There. He. Is.

I start to panic but I have to say something so when he’s a few feet away I whisper, “Excuse, aren’t you Sam?” He quickly whispers back “Yes.” Then he either winked or had something in his eye and walked away. Again, I blew it. Why didn’t I ask him for a picture or autograph or tell him he should have won Top Chef?! Doh! Another moment lost. Dang it. However, I will say, he either was in a hurry or didn’t want to be recognized and didn’t seem approachable. So Sam Talbot, if you are reading this….the five foot nuttin chic at Newark Airport Saturday hearts you and is a fan. A freak of a fan, but still a fan.

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Chicken with “Roasted” Red Pepper Sauce


What’s a girl to do when she defrosts some chicken breasts but has no idea what to do with them? On one of those rare occasions I have no recipe planned for dinner, I often have every cookbook spread out on my dining room table trying to find a recipe with what I have on hand. I really need to get some “go-to” recipes like my mom always had – breaded chicken cutlets, cavatelli and broccoli, meatloaf, etc.

After plowing through some cookbooks with no success, I headed to the web and tried Cooking Light’s website. After browsing a ton of chicken recipes based on the highest reviews, I settled on Chicken with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce from the April 2003 issue. I had (or at least I thought I had) all of the ingredients and thought it would be great with some whole wheat spaghetti.

Once I had the chicken already cooking in the pan and the spaghetti water boiling and I was about to add the “roasted” red peppers to my food processor, I noticed something was off. My peppers were in fact, not roasted, just sweet. Oh, well, at that point, I’m in too deep so I continued making the recipe. I made this with four chicken breasts cut into pieces and actually doubled the sauce since I knew I’d be serving it over spaghetti. Despite my peppers not being roasted, this came out pretty good! Both my husband and I enjoyed it and I would definitely make it again. I would, however, try it with roasted red peppers as I’d imagine it gives it more of a smoky flavor. Overall, this was super quick and easy, and surprisingly tasty!

Overall rating: 3.5 stars

*On a separate note, my apologies for the bad picture. I sense my photography skills have gotten *worse* over the year instead of better!

Chicken with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Serve this entrée over orzo.

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 (7-ounce) bottle roasted red bell peppers, drained
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated Parmesan cheese
Parsley sprigs (optional)
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with Italian seasoning, salt, and black pepper. Add chicken to pan, and cook 3 minutes on each side. While chicken cooks, place broth, vinegar, and bell peppers in a food processor; process until smooth. Add bell pepper mixture to pan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 3 minutes. Uncover and simmer 3 minutes or until chicken is done. Sprinkle servings evenly with cheese. Garnish with parsley, if desired.Yield:  4 servings (serving size: 1 chicken breast half, 3 tablespoons sauce, and 1 tablespoon cheese)CALORIES 261 (26% from fat); FAT 7.5g (sat 2.2g,mono 3.6g,poly 0.9g); PROTEIN 42.7g; CHOLESTEROL 103mg; CALCIUM 116mg; SODIUM 528mg; FIBER 0.4g; IRON 1.7mg; CARBOHYDRATE 3.1g
Cooking Light, APRIL 2003

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Blog or Bust #3! It’s Chili Time!!


Another great food blog I read, The Clumsy Cook, is hosting a blogging event with a Fall food theme. In honor of her event, Blog or Bust #3!, I’ve made some chili.

Chili is one of the meals I tend to start making in the Fall and will make it quite a few times throughout the season and in Winter. I’ve made many different versions of chili over the years – mild, spicy, green, ground turkey, ground beef, vegetarian, etc. so I’m no stranger to this one-pot wonder. I tried a new recipe this time, but I must say, after going back and looking it over, man did I ever deviate from this recipe….

For this chili, I used a recipe I found in the September 2007 issue of Cooking Light, Chunky Two-Bean and Beef Chili. This was different than most chili’s I make because instead of ground beef, the recipe called for big hunks of beef stew meat. Now for the many, many alterations to this recipe. First, I did not use green peppers because the one I had went bad. Instead, I used a red pepper that was still in good shape. Although, I do prefer green. I did NOT use jalapeno peppers either. NO way I can handle that spiciness. I instead used mild green chiles in a can. I think they are Old El Paso brand found near the taco stuff. I also did not use ancho chile powder, again too much spice. Same reason I did not use hot chili beans. I substitued black beans for the hot chili beans, but still used the red kidney beans.

Despite my many changes to the recipe it was quite good. Not too spicy, just a little kick, perfect for me. The cinnamon added an interesting taste to the chili, in a good way. I served it with some sour cream (light), shredded cheddar (fat-free), and diced avocado. It really hit the spot. It’s a keeper.

Overall rating: 4 stars

Chunky Two-Bean and Beef Chili

Best Chili/Stew. Nothing hits the spot on a blustery cold day like a pot of hot chili. This recipe is a favorite because we love the chunks of meat, subtle spicy heat from the jalapeño peppers, and depth of flavor from the red wine. Reduce the ground red pepper by half if you prefer a milder version. –Recipe by Krista Ackerbloom Montgomery (March 2005)

1 tablespoon canola oil, divided
Cooking spray
1 1/2 pounds beef stew meat
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
2 teaspoons finely chopped jalapeño pepper
2/3 cup cabernet sauvignon or dry red wine
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons ancho chile powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, undrained and chopped
1 (15-ounce) can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15-ounce) can hot chili beans
Reduced-fat sour cream (optional)
Heat 1 teaspoon canola oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle beef with salt. Add half of beef to pan; sauté 8 minutes or until browned. Remove from pan. Repeat procedure with remaining beef. Add remaining 2 teaspoons oil, onion, and bell pepper to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Add garlic and jalapeño; sauté 1 minute. Add wine, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Return beef to pan. Stir in sugar and remaining ingredients except sour cream; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 1/2 hours or until beef is tender, stirring occasionally. Garnish with sour cream, if desired.Yield:  6 servings (serving size: about 1 1/3 cups)CALORIES 390 (26% from fat); FAT 11.4g (sat 3.2g,mono 4.8g,poly 1.1g); PROTEIN 31.3g; CHOLESTEROL 71mg; CALCIUM 94mg; SODIUM 825mg; FIBER 10.1g; IRON 5mg; CARBOHYDRATE 37.5g Cooking Light, SEPTEMBER 2007


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