Tag Archives: cafe

Chez Carey! Healthy Pad Thai recipe

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I believe I have come up with a TOTAL winner. I LOVE Pad Thai, but the calories and fat in a normal serving make it very hard for me to justify- especially with an upcoming wedding and a commitment to stay on track with Weight Watchers allowances.

I’m a BIG fan of PB2 by Bell Plantations http://www.bellplantation.com/. It’s basically powdered peanut butter than you can reconstitute with water. It removes all of the oils and fats and you’re left with very peanut buttery tasting yumminess for very few calories. I have used it in as regular peanut butter, but haven’t really done a lot of cooking or experimenting with it yet, except for mixing it in with frozen bananas to make pb/banana ice cream, or making awesome smoothies with it. I had been looking at recipes on their website for inspiration and after reading a few of their Thai Noodles recipes, decided to take that idea and run with it….and my experiment was a major success. It will definitely be repeated soon. As always, my recipes are just loose guidelines since I don’t really measure anything out…Interpret and adjust it however you’d like.

Here’s the concept!

Ingredients:

For the sauce:

PB2 (about 6 Tablespoons)

Sesame Oil

Sriracha sauce

Hot water

Brown rice vinegar

Ginger

Garlic

Cilantro

Bragg’s Amino Acids (or light soy sauce if you don’t have Bragg’s)

Honey

Mix all of that up in a bowl or measuring cup and keep adding hot water in tiny bits until you get to the consistency you want. It should be semi-thick so it will coat the noodles.

Meanwhile, stir fry the following in a wok with a little coconut oil. (I julienned all of the veggies, but you don’t really have to. It just looks prettier that way.)

Carrots

Baby Corn

Scallions

red peppers

Shiitake mushrooms

Shrimp

And then throw in a bag of WELL- RINSED and lightly boiled (for 1 minute) kelp noodles like these: http://www.kelpnoodles.com/

or miracle noodles like these: http://www.miraclenoodle.com/

I can’t stress enough how important it is to rinse either of those noodles before cooking them.

Toss everything together and then pour the sauce over the top and mix well.

Thinly slice some cucumbers and chop some peanuts to top each dish with and VIOLA! Low fat, low cal, AMAZING tasting Pad Thai. Enjoy! You’re welcome!

I should really open a cafe one of these days 🙂

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Jacks on Marion: 201 W Marion Ave, Punta Gorda, FL

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jacksonmarion1jacks on marion 2

I was SO excited that my old friend Betsy- who was my restaurant buddy when I lived in NYC, was here for a visit last weekend. Her parents have a condo in Sanibel Island, which is about 3 hours from where Gabriel and I live in Sarasota. We checked Google maps and found that Punta Gorda was about halfway between us and off I went to check Yelp for a place to meet for lunch. We found Jacks on Marion, took a look at their menu online, and thought it would be a great place to try.

We met there and were seated immediately. The waitress brought over water and menus and made some suggestions for us. The three of us decided to share the ‘Island Goat Cheese’ appetizer, which is described as; ‘warm macadamia nut crusted, apricot coulis served with flatbread Crostini ‘. It was okay, but not as spectacular as the description made it sound. The macadamia crust really just tasted like deep-fried breading to me. The cheese inside was warm, creamy and gooey. The apricot coulis added a nice sweet touch, but was nothing more than apricot jam as far as I could tell. The bread was fine, but not particularly fresh. It was basically just corners of pita-type bread.

For my entree I ordered the ‘Tomato & Fresh Mozzarella’ and added grilled shrimp to it. It was fairly basic greens with slices of not-very-ripe tomatoes and mozzarella on top. This is clearly not truly ‘fresh’ mozzarella as it had that sort of rubbery/chewy texture. I’ve had homemade mozzarella that melts in your mouth- like the amazing creation from Mozzerella Fella in Sarasota, https://bigforkinmouth.com/2012/09/13/mozzarella-fella-1668-main-st-sarasota-fl/ and I guess it’s pretty much ruined me for any and all store-bought, not-homemade, cheese at this point. The shrimp on the salad were fresh and cooked right, and the balsamic glaze and basil were well-balanced and flavorful, but the salad overall was pretty boring and not particularly creative or high-quality.

I guess my summary of Jacks is that it’s fine. It’s okay. It’s nothing really special or worth re-visiting. There aren’t a ton of great lunch options in this sort of sleepy tourist community, but I think it’s worth a little more searching if we go back. We DID however find a fantastic homemade ice cream place that I forgot to photograph…and I would STRONGLY urge you to go eat your lunch in a cone if you are in the area 🙂 It’s called Cubby’s. Give it a shot! http://www.yelp.com/biz/cubbys-homemade-ice-cream-punta-gorda

Drunken Poet Cafe: 1572 Main St. Sarasota, FL

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soup seaweed salad drunken poet shrimp entree

 

I was supposed to meet my father at Pho Cali, one of my favorite downtown Sarasota Restaurants, but it was closed- as it often is when I attempt to go. Their hours and days are sort of weird and never seem to coincide with my cravings. Grrrr. We decided to give Drunken Poet a try since it’s a couple of doors away, had a menu that sounded good, and neither of us had been there before.

We sat at an outside menu and looked at the menu. They had Japanese and Thai lunch specials to choose from and we both ended up picking Thai. I ordered the Shrimp Pad Pak: Shrimp with assorted vegetables in oyster sauce. We also shared a seaweed salad. My entree came with a chicken/rice soup that came out first in a chipped bowl. I was going to take a picture of my father’s soup instead, but his bowl was also chipped. The soup itself was not good. It was very salty and the flavor was just off. I left it aside after having 2 spoonfuls. The seaweed salad was standard and we both enjoyed it. Nothing special, but I always love seaweed salad and this time was no different. My entree was enjoyable. There wasn’t a ton of shrimp in it, but the shrimp that was there was cooked well, flavored lightly and fresh. The veggies were also light and fresh. This tasted like a healthy meal to me, without a ton of oil, or unnecessary chemicals or seasonings.

Overall, this was a lovely lunch- not the best Thai I’ve had, but not bad. I’m not sure if I’d go back, but If you’re in the area and want a reasonable priced Asian lunch I would recommend it.

 

Veg: 2164 Gulf Gate Dr. Sarasota, FL

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veg kale saladUpdate! I felt that it was important to add an undated entry for Veg. I actually go there pretty frequently on my lunch breaks from work and decided that my first review of it really didn’t do it justice- especially because at that point, I’d only tried take-out. This photo is of the amazing 2164 Salad: chopped kale, shoestring carrots, shredded raw beets, purple cabbage, toasted sunflower seeds, avocado, organic pea shoots; papaya seed citrus dressing. This salad has become my favorite at Veg and I can’t seem to stop ordering it. It makes me feel SO healthy and tastes seriously amazing. As the saying goes, we eat with our eyes first, and the beautiful colors of the beets, carrots, avocados and kale make for an incredibly tasty display of color. There are tons of awesome choices on Veg’s menu, and I still have a long way to go before I’ve tried them all. I find it very difficult to move on to new choices when I get so easily hooked on the ones I’ve had so far. Bravo Veg! Thank you so much for giving me such a great place to go to for lunch. See you again soon!

Here’s the original post:

I had take out lunch from Veg a few days ago and it left a great impression on me. The menu had so many wonderful sounding, healthy and reasonably-priced options that I wasn’t sure what to order. When I called to place my order for pick up, I decided to ask if the women answering the phone had any recommendations and was told that the special of the day was looking excellent. I took her word for it and ordered the shrimp/lobster cake sandwich. It had a definite seafood taste, but was not filled with chunks like I was hoping for. It really could have been shrimp, lobster, fish, crab or anything else- but for under $10, I had a VERY filling and flavorful lunch on a hearty roll with a side of great cole slaw and a little slice of watermelon. Great deal, easy, peasy, done. I will definitely be back soon.

The Burg Bar and Grill: 1752 Central Ave St Petersburg, FL

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Gabriel and I had to go up to St. Pete to meet with our wedding photographer (EEEeEEEEeee!!!) so we decided to make a day of it and head to the Dali museum afterwards. We’d been wanting to check it out for a while and were excited to spend the afternoon there. It was a very interesting way to spend some time, and we thoroughly enjoyed not just the art and the guided audio tour, but also the amazing architecture of the building itself as well as the beautifully manicured grounds and awesome views of boats on the water.

When we finished looking around, it was after 3:45pm and our stomachs were growling. Although the cafe in the museum looked great, I was craving iron and feeling deprived since we skipped our post-blood-donation burgers the week before. We decided to check Yelp for local burger joints and found 5 star reviews for the Burg Bar and Grill.

We arrived to find a tiny, dive-y bar with a few tables and a friendly bartender/waiter happy to seat us. Apparently, during ‘normal’ meal times, it’s nearly impossible to get a table so we were lucky that hunger stuck at an odd hour. We looked over the menu and quickly chose our burgers. I love that they have a small and large size so that I don’t eat an 8oz just because it’s on the plate in front of me when I’m perfectly satisfied with a 5oz. I ordered mine cooked medium and topped with american cheese, grilled mushroom and grilled onions and Gabriel got his with blue cheese and bacon. We both asked for our fries to be very well-done.

About 10 minutes later, our waiter arrived with our lunch/dinner much to our delight. The fries were super crispy and the burgers looked amazing. I was very happy to find that they had malt vinegar for my fries- a preference of mine over ketchup. One bite and I was sold. This absolutely deserves all of the stars it’s been given. The burger was cooked perfectly with just the right amount of gooey cheese and sauteed onions and mushrooms. The roll was fresh and doughy, not the typical out-of-a-package roll at all. I tried a bite of Gabriel’s burger and found that it too was perfection.

Overall, for less than $20 we left feeling thoroughly satisfied, pretty darn fat and totally happy. If we are ever in the area again, we might just have to go back. If you live nearby, definitely give it a shot- you’ll be glad you did.

Country Pancake House & Restaurant: 8205 Nature’s Way. Suite 119. Lakewood Ranch, FL

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I find it rather odd that we’ve lived about a mile from Country Pancake House for the last 6 months and we only just tried it today. I also find it odd that there are so many negative reviews out there complaining about the vast number of options on the menu or the huge quantities of food. I, as opposed to a lot of the complainers, do not find large portions at a fair price to be wasteful. I find them to make an excellent second meal out of take-home leftovers which is perfectly acceptable to me.

The entire first page is covered in pancake choices. Wow. I suppose it was a bit overwhelming, but they all sounded amazing. I decided that this kind of carb overload would need to be a reward for a 6 mile run, and not just a normal Sunday morning breakfast. Note to self: make sure to go back after a 6 mile run and order the chocolate chip cherry short stack. Drool.

We ordered coffees with honey and skim (our normal way) and they also brought out a complimentary basket of homemade cornbread….because obviously mile high plates of pancakes isn’t enough bread for one meal. Ummm. Anyway, since I’d selected from the many omelette options and told them that I wanted to forego the pancakes and home fries that normally come with them, I figured I’d indulge in some cornbread. I remembered to take the pic only after I’d already eaten one and half pieces of the ones that had chocolate chips on top. Sorry Gabriel…I did not share those very well at all.

Our meals came out soon after and my omelette was HUGE. I had the farmer’s omelette stuffed with peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, ham and cheese (both of which I asked them to go light on and still got plenty). I am pretty sure that was at least a 5 egg omelette – it was so thick and covered my plate. I was stuffed after a bit less than half and happily had it boxed up to go home. It will make a great breakfast tomorrow after I re-saute it for a few minutes to heat it back up. Gabriel’s shrimp, asparagus and Monterey Jack was quite delicious. The shrimp were large and cooked perfectly and nicely complemented by the other ingredients much to my surprise. His pancakes were fluffy and beautiful and dusted with a little confectioner’s sugar. They were so tasty that they really didn’t even need maple syrup on top. His home fries were crunchy and delicious and I’m glad he had ordered them so I could at least have tastes.

I also ordered a strawberry/peach/orange juice because the page of fresh squeezed juices sounded way too good to skip. It was sweet, fresh, and somehow a little creamy. I verified with the waitress that no sugar or milk was added and she confirmed that it was purely fruit and a great juicer machine. I would have preferred it to be chilled, it was slightly warm or at best, room temperature. It had wonderful flavor, but at $3.75 I doubt I’ll do that again.

Our enormous breakfast came out to $26 total, and will absolutely feed us for another 2 meals. I really enjoyed our morning here, along with the 1.5 mile walk each way to burn some of it off. It’s really a country-bumpkin feeling place with warm staff and an eager crowd who seemed to enjoy themselves as much as we did. Now that we now how pleasant it is, we will surely return more often.

 

 

Captain Brian’s Seafood Market and Restaurant: 8441 N Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL

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My parents told me about Captain Brian’s a long time ago as the place to get the best (and most reasonably priced) lobster around. After picking up Gabriel’s brand new car at Honda nearby in Bradenton, and before going to spend a fun day at the Ringling Museum, we decided it was the perfect opportunity to try it out for lunch. We parked and went in to find a restaurant and fish market with very dated decor. There is a great, big, fish tank smack in the middle of the room, dark wood tables and chairs and light peach tablecloths and booths.  The rest of the patrons were mostly 70+ years old, and seemed to all be regulars. We were seated in a booth right away and the very warm and welcoming waitress brought us ice water and menus.

We looked over the menus which were filled with great sounding lunch options for around $8-$13 each. Most of them come with a side or two, and I was happy to find out that one of them could be the salad bar. I LOVE salad bars. I easily made my choice of a lobster roll which came with steak fries and cole slaw, and I went up to get my salad. The salad bar was small, but full of fresh lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, chick peas, potato salad, pasta salad, cole slaw, beets, olives, and more. I could probably have made a lunch of that pretty easily but saved room for my highly anticipated lobster roll. It came out soon after I finished my salad and was bursting at the seams with huge chunks of lobster. I’m used to paying far too much for a skimpy rolled filled with more mayo than seafood and this was a VERY pleasant surprise. The lobster itself was amazing. Sweet, perfectly cooked, and lightly dressed with mayo. The roll fell apart almost immediately, but ‘too much lobster’ is really not a reason to fault a falling-apart roll in my book. The thick cut steak fries were a great side, along with the fresh cole slaw.

After we polished off our rolls, we decided to split the banana split pie, mostly because I’m a sucker for a dessert I’ve never had before- and especially when it includes fudge and ice cream in a chocolate cookie crust. It had very thin layers of sliced bananas on top of the crust, then 3 flavors of ice cream, then a thin layer of ooey, gooey, sticky, delicious fudge, and then whipped cream on top with chocolate shavings to complete the deliciousness. YUM. We cleaned our plate super fast with this one.

I must say again that our waitress was really friendly, sweet and warm. I felt like a regular even though this was our first visit. With service like that, it’s no wonder that people return over and over again. I’m sure we’ll be back soon, certainly not for the old-age home type decor, but absolutely for the great service, fair prices and wonderfully fresh seafood.