Welcome to my food blog! I am your average home cook and I want to share my love of food with the world. I'll divulge my recipes as often as possible. Feel free to comment or to email me at nodessertpodcast@gmail.com! Don' forget to come by often for new posts... I love having you visit me!

September 29, 2011

Picture View - Tortilla Soup

Tortilla Soup - Home Cooked Recipe 13

Since I went to the Mexican restaurant last week I have been in the mood to make some Mexican at home.  I have never made tortilla soup, but found some recipes on the internet for versions of tortilla soup.  (I have also been inspired to make homemade enchilada sauce, and think that I may make it and post the recipe next week.)  I found that in making tortilla soup, it is healthy, spicy, filling, and full of flavor.  Here is my recipe!!!  ***Bonus, this is a crockpot recipe, so it's even more convenient!***

Melissa's Tortilla Soup

2 cans of chicken stock (14.5 ounces each)
1 cup water
1 can RoTel - tomatoes with green chiles (10 ounces)
1 can plain diced tomatoes (14.5 ounces)
1 bag frozen sweet corn (16 ounces - you can use canned if your prefer)
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried cumin
1/2 tsp dried ground coriander
dash of cayenne

1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp granulated garlic

Salt and pepper to taste
1 lb chicken breasts, cooked and diced
6-10 corn tortillas, cut in to strips and fried (or you can use tortilla chips)
*optional - Sour cream
*optional - Monterey jack cheese, shredded
*optional - Cilantro, chopped

Add all ingredients to slow cooker except tortillas, sour cream, cheese, and cilantro.  Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, or on high for 4 to 6 hours.  *To fry tortilla chips, cut in to strips, fry in oil (I use a deep fryer) at 350 degrees for 15 to 30 seconds.  Drain on paper towels, and salt while still warm. 
To serve, ladle soup in to bowls.  Top with tortilla strips.  Garnish with the optional ingredients of sour cream, cheese, and cilantro.  Enjoy!

September 25, 2011

Additional Pictures From Emiliano'z


Queso Fundido with Mushrooms

1st Visit - Camarones al Ajillo

1st Visit - Combo Platter (Beef Enchilada, Cheese Enchilada, Beef Taco)

Happy Hour Margarita

Chips and Salsa

Latest Visit - Combo Platter (Beef Taco, Beef Enchilada, Cheese Enchilada)

Emiliano'z - Restaurant Review 1

While I was going over posts I want to make on this website, I realized I hadn't given any restaurant reviews yet.  This fact, coupled with the knowledge that I didn't make anything new at home this week, led me to the decision that instead of a recipe this week I'll give my opinion on a restaurant.

I have had a really hard time in Orlando finding what I consider to be a good Mexican restaurant.  In the Tampa Bay area, where I lived previous to Orlando, there are two fantastic Mexican restaurants that have spoiled me.  The one in Clearwater, FL is now Los Mayas (formerly Los Mariachis - the place seems exactly the same except for the name change), and the other is Los Mexicanos in Tarpon Springs, FL.  Believe me, I have searched and searched in Orlando for restaurants similar to my favorite Tampa Bay ones, who serve what I consider to be authentic Mexican.  Then about a year ago, I found a good place for Mexican food in the greater Orlando area.  Not actually in Orlando proper, but in Altamonte Springs, a neighboring city. 
Emiliano'z Mexican Restaurant located at 1012 W. State Road 436 in Altamonte Springs, FL is a good place for Mexican cuisine.  They have a website, http://www.emilianoz.com/, but it is currently down for maintenance.  However, you can find their menu online at http://www.restaurant.com
The first thing that grabs you is the decor.  In fact, I was a little nervous walking in my first time that we had gone to a place that was way too expensive for my budget.  I could not have been more wrong!  The prices are extremely comparable to other Mexican restaurants, and their happy hour prices are really good.
While the inside is warm and inviting, with lots of dark wood and tastefully authentic Mexican decorations, there is also an outside seating are that has a beautiful lakeside view.  Let me tell you, sitting outside, sipping a margarita, while looking at the lake is a great way to unwind from a stressful day, or week.  Unfortunately, I was more concerned about taking pictures of the food then I was of the inside decor and outside view.  Next time I go I will make sure I take some of those pictures and add them to the additional pictures post. 
The second thing that grabbed me is their great margarita prices!  I opted for a HUGE house margarita during their happy hour, and it only cost me $3.  On a previous visit, I could swear there was a night where I only paid a dollar for a house margarita during happy hour.  But never mind that, there is also food to talk about!

I have been to Emiliano'z a handful of times.  The great thing about Emiliano'z is that they do carry out, AND they participate in Doorstep Delivery, which is a great service that serves the greater Orlando area, and allows you to get some of your favorite restaurant food, right at home.  So while their restaurant is beautiful and I enjoy dining there, if I don't have a lot of time but am craving some good Mexican cuisine I can take it home with me.
I am sort of boring and get the same thing every time I go there to eat.  It's usually the "make your own combination", where I order a beef enchilada, a cheese enchilada, and a beef taco.  This platter also comes with refried beans and Mexican rice.  With certain places, I am a creature of habit and will consistently order the same dish.  Luckily for me, I normally eat out with companions and people will generally order meals different from mine and I get to taste them most of the time. 
The first time I went, my companion ordered the Camerones al Ajillo.  This is a shrimp dish which has a garlic and chile sauce, and it's served with a Poblano rice and bell peppers and onions.  On another visit my companions had the Quesadilla Rellena with Grilled Chicken.  We have also ordered the Queso Fundido appetizer, which comes with your choice of sausage or mushrooms.  We opted for mushrooms since I generally do not eat sausage. 
The menu also contains several salad and soup items.  The Cancun Salad, with grilled shrimp, peppers, and onions on a bed of romaine, tomatoes, and cucumbers with a choice of dressing sounds really yummy, as does their Tortilla soup.  The menu also has a few vegetarian options, grilled fish, fajitas, burritos, and many more options.
As is standard in most Mexican restaurants, when you are seated you are brought tortilla chips and salsa.  Emiliano'z salsa is made fresh, with chunks of tomato and onion, bright cilantro leaves, and has a spicy kick. 
The thing I enjoy about the enchiladas is the sauce.  And that they use corn tortillas, because I prefer corn tortillas to flour ones.  The enchiladas I order come with a red sauce.  A typical authentic enchilada sauce has at least tomatoes, chiles, onion, cumin, and oregano.  This sauce is well-balanced, with a nice chile flavor, but not overwhelming spice.  The one thing that does disappoint me is that they make their hard taco shells from flour tortillas, which is a nice touch for people who do enjoy flour tortillas, but again, I prefer corn tortillas.  You can get your tacos hard or soft with no problem, in fact, they usually ask you if you haven't specified.
Let me mention some other things that I think make dining at this establishment enjoyable.  The service is dynamite.  I'm never looking around and wondering when my server is coming back, they are attentive without being annoying.  Also, the food comes out FAST.  Granted, I have never been to this restaurant on a weekend evening (usually only during the week for dinner), so things may be a bit slower in their busy times.  However, I'll keep going during the weeknight if it means my service will always be this good.
With good prices, good services, and good food, Emiliano'z is worth the trip when you're in the mood for Mexican in the Orlando area.

September 19, 2011

Additional Pictures From C&S Brisket Bus

Great logo

The owner we spoke to

Cooking our lunch

Packaging our food came in

Two beef and cheddars

Grilled cheese

Close-up Beef N Cheddar

Food Truck Adventures 4 - C&S Brisket Bus

When I was researching all of the food trucks I wanted to try in Orlando, I found that two of them were competing to be on the Food Network for the Great Food Trucks Race.  One was Big Wheel Provisions which I ate at during my first Food Truck Bazaar, and the other was C&S Brisket Bus.  The Brisket Bus was at the Food Truck Bazaar, but I came across Big Wheel first, and the line for C&S was massive.  So I thought I would wait until they were at a lunch location close to me and try them then.
On September 2, 2011 I saw the tweet that C&S would be at the Citgo on University and Metric, the same location I had found The Crooked Spoon at.  unfortunately, since that date, no more food trucks are allowed there so they all have to find a new Friday lunch spot.
I got to the C&S Brisket Bus as soon as it opened.  I was determined not to miss out on the limited items they had.  They had just done the Apopka Food Truck Roundup the night before, and were running low on their supplies.  They did have one item I definitely wanted to try, and that was their Beef N Cheddar. 
They only had few items on their menu.  One was a pot roast, which we did not try, and they also had chopped bbq which we skipped as well, in favor of the Beef N Cheddars. My companion also got a grilled cheese.  They offered a side of fries for $2, but sandwiches were our main focus.
We ended up having a nice conversation with the owner of the truck.  There was only one person ahead of us, and more people did not show up until we had our food.  IT gave us a great opportunity to learn more about the food truck life.  We found out from him that the Maitland Food Pod, which is weekly, only has about 300 to 400 people on average  with 9 trucks or so in service.  But the monthly Apopka Food Truck Roundup had way more people than that, and C&S's line was 50 to 60 people deep at one point, with a 45 minute wait.  That's fairly impressive!  It was interesting and I'd love to have more conversations with food truck owners.
Let's get back to the food.
The grilled cheese looked good, but standard.  I had one bite, and it was simple yet tasty.  Just bread, butter, and cheese.  Our beef and cheddars on the other hand were pretty great!  The beef was moist and tender, and had a very savory beefy flavor.  I like beef that tastes like beef.  This fit the bill.  The bun was soft and easy to eat, which I happen to like in my bread.  There was also delicious sauteed onions and melty, sharp cheddar cheese.  It was a great choice.  This sandwich has my stamp of approval!
The prices were fairly good.  The chopped bbq was either $5 or $6.  The pot roast was $8, the grilled cheese was $5, and our beef and cheddars were $9. 
Visit them when you get a chance!  They cook their meat right, and it's a great place for people who like brisket done right.  Unfortunately their website http://brisketbus.com is down at the moment.  When I visited the site it said it's been down since September 9, 2011.  Hopefully they will have it up soon.  But they do have a twitter and a facebook, so follow them and show your food truck love!

September 15, 2011

Picture View - Spicy Salt And Pepper Shrimp

Ingredients for Spicy Salt And Pepper Shrimp

Shrimp in cornstarch

Searing shrimp

Shrimp before being seasoned

Spicy Salt And Pepper Shrimp

Spicy Salt And Pepper Shrimp - Home Cooked Recipe 12

I received a wonderful gift for my birthday.  My friends Candi and Gary got me a cookbook from the Williams-Sonoma line of books titled Food Made Fast.  The particular book they gifted me was the Asian one in the Food Made Fast line.  First of all, the book is my favorite color (blue), so that alone was a treat.  I always read cookbooks cover to cover, and this one was no exception.  It contains many recipes, and they are all done in 15, 20, or 30 minutes.  There are great pictures, and easy-to-follow recipes.  They have several other books in the Food Made Fast line that I hope to get one day. 
I had some shrimp on hand, so I decided to look for Asian recipes that had shrimp in them.  I didn't think I'd ever had salt and pepper shrimp, and the recipe for Spicy Salt And Pepper Shrimp sounded good.  This recipe comes directly from their cookbook. 

Spicy Salt-And-Pepper Shrimp

1/4 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp five spice powder (I use Hokan, easily available in your local supermarket)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 tbs corn or peanut oil (I use vegetable oil, which I always have on hand)
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 and 1/2 lbs of shrimp, peeled and deveined
2tbs ginger, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced (I did not have a jalapeno so I used some shichimi)
2 tbs mirin

Make the spice mixture
Combine the sugar, five spice, salt, and pepper in a bowl.  Set aside.

Sear the shrimp
Warm a wok over high heat until very hot then pour in 2 tbs oil.
Meanwhile, spread the cornstarch on a plate.  Quickly pat the shrimp dry with paper towels and dip in the cornstarch, coating both sides and shaking off the excess.  Add the shrimp to the wok in a single layer and sear, turning once, just until opaque throughout, about 1 minute per side.  Transfer the shrimp to a bowl.

Finish the dish
Return the wok to high heat and pour in the remaining 2 Tbs. oil. Add the ginger, garlic and chili and stir-fry until fragrant, about 5 seconds. Add the spice mixture and mirin, quickly return the shrimp to the wok, and stir-fry until the shrimp are coated with the spice mixture and are heated through, 15 to 20 seconds. Transfer the shrimp to a platter and serve with the dipping sauce (see note above). Serves 4. 


September 14, 2011

Additional Pictures From The Korean BBQ Taco Box

My Taco Box food in it's smiley face bag

Beef (bulgogi) taco box

Taco adorned by fried cheese, fried tofu, and egg omelet roll
Chicken wing and salad

Menu with pictures

Parked at Colonial and Alafaya (Box II)

Food Truck Adventures 3 - Korean BBQ Taco Box

***A quick note, on Thurs 9/15/11 the Korean BBQ Taco Box will appear on Fox 35 News in Orlando during the 8am show.  Check them out!
It sounds completely bizarre.  Korean food, BBQ, and tacos all mashed together?  Crazy sounding but absolutely delicious, as I found out when I visited the Korean BBQ Taco Box II when it was parked at the corner of Alafaya and Colonial one Friday afternoon. 
This truck is unique not only because of it's culinary exploits, but also because there are FOUR of these trucks. Most of the food trucks I've noticed are 1 truck.  However, as they get more ambitious, and more popular, the Korean BBQ truck expands it's number of trucks.  This is great for a few reasons.  They serve they same food, so you're getting the same product.  But there are different chefs on each truck, so it's interesting to see if there's a difference in the quality of food.  This also means the trucks can be in different locations at the same time, and that's wonderful for people who are spread throughout Orlando, but want a fix of their favorite food truck.  Another advantage to the multiple trucks is that they can be at a Food Truck event, such as the Oviedo Food Truck Bazaar, yet still serve customers who can't make it to the event in other locations.
Now let's talk about the FOOD!
The menu has so many items it could make your head spin.  There are short ribs (galbi), beef (bulgogi), pork and chicken.  You can get the meats in a box with rice, they can be subs, or you can get the meats in tacos.  There are appetizers such as fried cheese rolls, or chicken wings.  The menu comes with pictures, so you can see what your pick will look like. Also, the menu has good descriptions, which is important when deciding what to pick. 
I'm a big beef fan, so I knew that was going to be my meat of choice.  There beef is labeled bulgogi.  Bulgogi means "fire meat" in Korean.  This does not mean it's spicy necessarily, it just means that it's cooked over a flame.  While I think in this instance the beef is cooked on a flat top, it's marinated in a traditional Korean style that has a lot of flavor.
And I was at the Korean BBQ Taco Box, so I chose to have my meat in a taco.  The taco was a large flour tortilla filled with the bulgogi (beef) and lettuce.  My box also included a 2 fried cheese rolls, salad with ginger dressing, a chicken wing, fried tofu, and an egg omelet roll.  The salad was standard, just some iceberg lettuce with a ginger dressing, similar to what you get at a Japanese steakhouse.  The chicken wing had a delicious coating and sauce.  It was sweet and spicy at the same time.  You could see the flakes of red pepper, which definitely indicates some kind of heat involved.  The tofu was breaded and fried, and was topped with a yummy teriyaki sauce .The fried cheese rolls were interesting (and tasty!), and topped with a special sauce.  I wish I could describe the sauce better, but it was creamy and nicely spiced. 
Now about my taco.  The meat was delectable!  Tender, great flavor, a little saucy.  In retrospect, I should have just gotten the beef with the rice, because I really am not a huge fan of flour tortillas and I definitely do not like warm lettuce.  Warm lettuce is one of my pet peeves, and I usually order my tacos and sandwiches without it.  That being said, I would absolutely get the beef again. 
If you're not a beef fan, you can also have galbi, which is marinated pork short ribs, or you could go for their spicy pork.  If you're a chicken fan, you can get it in the forms of their spicy wings, chicken teriyaki (but only if you order the rice box version), or in the taco and sub it's marinated pieces of chicken thigh. 
The prices at the Korean BBQ Taco Box were some of the best I've seen from the food trucks.  All the food I purchased was only $5.99.  And it was a lot of food!  All the items on their menu are either $5.99 or $6.99, so you really can't go wrong.  If you would like to check out their menu, or see what they're about, visit http://kbbqbox.com.
I will doubtlessly be back to the Korean BBQ Taco Box. The food was good, affordable, and they have several locations they can be found at everyday.  These are hard working people who are making excellent food truck cuisine.  If you're in Orlando, get out there and try them!  They can easily be found on Twitter and Facebook, and they do a great job of updating their Twitter every day with their locations.

September 8, 2011

Picture View - Homemade Croutons

Bonus Recipe! Homemade Croutons

Who doesn't love croutons?!?  Not many people that I know don't like them.  And I found a much tastier (and much cheaper!) way to have them as opposed to buying them at a supermarket.  They were easy, quick, and got rave reviews from the people I live with them.  Try them today!

Homemade Croutons

1 loaf day-old french bread, cubed
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tbs melted butter
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp granulated garlic
2tbs dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp cayenne
Salt & Pepper

Combine all ingredients except bread.  Place bread cubes in a bowl, pour oil mixture on and toss well.  Make sure all cubes are seasoned.  Arrange in a single layer on a cooling rack placed on a baking sheet.  Bake at 300 degrees for 15 minutes.  Allow to cool, store in an airtight container.  They will last in your pantry for a month.  You can also freeze them for up to 6 months.  Serve with soup or salad, or as a snack.  Enjoy!