Jun 12, 2012

Beer Battered Fish Tacos

From the kitchen of: Isabel  Makes: 6-8 servings
Total time: 10 min to prep, 15 min to fry

My very first recipe on Pretty Tasty Things was a Tilapia Fish Taco. It’s been a year and a few months since then and I still consider it one of my favorites. A few weeks ago when I asked my mom what she wanted for Mother’s Day, she replied “All I want is a meal cooked by you.” That is one thing I can certainly do. Plus, I’d rather make her a great meal than buy her something she’ll never wear or most likely return. Haha. Sorry Mom, you’re just very particular!

She came into town for Mother’s Day, and I made her, my sister who became a mom earlier this year, and my brother a throwback meal of my first recipe, but done slightly different. If you’ve been following Pretty Tasty Things, I’ve made a number of different tacos such as Carne Asada Tacos and Carne Adovada Tacos. They’re just so versatile that you can incorporate your own flavors and style. This time, I made my family Beer Battered Tilapia Fish Tacos topped with a sweet roasted corn salad, spicy chipotle aioli and red cabbage. Oh, speaking of beer, I definitely should drink less of it and include it in more of my cooking. The beer made for a crispy outer shell allowing the fish to stay moist and juicy.

6 fresh Tilapia fillets, or any firm white fish
1 1/2 cup flour, for batter
1/2 cup flour, for fish
1/4 cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 bottle of beer, preferably an ale or lager
vegetable oil, for frying
salt + pepper
flour tortillas

1. Prep the fish.
Slice each Tilapia fillet into 8 equal portions. Season liberally with salt and pepper.

2. Make beer batter. In a medium-size bowl, add the dry ingredients — 1 1/2 cup flour, cornstarch, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in one bottle of beer. I used Fat Tire since that was already in my fridge. The batter’s consistency is similar to pancake batter.

3. Fry the fish. In a large pot or dutch oven, add vegetable oil about 2 inches deep. Heat oil to 350°. Meanwhile, lightly flour the seasoned fish portions in 1/2 cup of flour. Pat off the excess flour. Taking one fish at a time, dip it in the batter. Slowly drop the coated fish into the hot oil cooking 5-7 pieces at a time. Fry each side for 1 minute or so until the batter turns golden brown. Remove from oil and place on a paper towel lined tray. Season with salt and pepper while the fish is still hot. Repeat process with the rest of the fish portions.

4. Assemble tacos. Warm flour tacos either by microwave or oven. Add about 3 fish portions to each taco and top with roasted corn salad, chipotle aioli and red cabbage. Enjoy!

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Jun 7, 2012

Sampling Broad Appetit $3 at a time

One of the best food festivals that I love the most in RVA is the annual Broad Appétit. I look forward to it every single year. My sister from D.C. even makes it down for this event. I’m serious when I say, it’s one of the best. The concept of this festival is very simple. Each restaurant prepares $3 mini-dish favorites for you to try. You go up to to a booth, read their menu and pay $3 if you want to sample. It’s a great way to try restaurants that you’ve never been before and finding some gems that you would definitely revisit.

My mother-in-law was in town for the weekend, so this was one event Jared and I brought her to. From past experience, getting to Broad Appétit early is important. As soon as it starts at 11 a.m., we were there. That way, we can get our sample with no line and hang out for the rest of the afternoon. They even had local beer to sell, which I would have partaken in, but was full from all the eating. We tried 9 different dishes, lets take a look at each one!

1. Korean barbecue on a scallion pancake from Ginkgo:
Our first sample of the day wasn’t too bad. It was a good idea, but the scallion pancake needed some work. I’m assuming it was prepared the night before or the morning of, so it tended to be on the dry and tough side. However, the Korean barbecue on top of the pancake was super tender and sweet. The relish was crunchy adding a nice texture overall.

2. Pulled pork over a bed of gnocchi and apples from Community Kitchen:
This was our first time eating gnocchi and it was heavenly. I believe they were making the gnocchi on the spot. All the flavors in this dish were nicely balanced. It was salty and sweet with a creamy, light sauce.

3. Spicy shrimp and grits from Mansionfive26:
So highly disappointed about a dish I typically enjoy eating. Really lacked on spice and flavor. The shrimps were small and the sauce was too watery. I wanted it to be good, but I’ve had better (at Balliceaux). The grits were cooked very nicely though.

4. Ribeye taco and Teriyaki beef taco from Boka Truck:
I’m not a Boka truck virgin anymore!! All the times I wanted to try a taco from the Boka truck, the line was a mile long. This time, it wasn’t! The tacos were very different in taste than the typical Mexican-style. These were more Asian-inspired with loads of spice and texture. Solid tacos!

5. Salmon over rice from La Parisienne Bistro & Cafe:
Not one of my favorites, but my mother-in-law enjoyed it a lot. For me, there was just too much going on. There were so many different kinds of flavors in the rice, sauce and salmon that I felt a little overwhelmed and sadly, underwhelmed at the same time.

6. Crab cake from Martin’s:
One of my favorite foods is a well-made crab cake. Surprisingly enough, the crab cake from Martins’ (of all places) was all crab and done really well! The presentation lacked, but the aioli and side vegetables complimented the crab really nicely. The cake was lumpy with lots of crab and not a lot filling, which is my kind of crab cake. Very nice.

7. Salted Chocolate Caramel cake from Shyndigz:
Best damn slice of cake I’ve ever eaten. Hands down. The combination of chocolate, salt and caramel was UNBELIEVABLE and inspiring. They also had a key lime cheesecake to sample, which was equally as good. I will honestly check their bakery shop on Patterson to try more! LOVED IT.

8. Pork belly with slaw on a steamed bun from Sticky Rice:
It was our first time eating pork belly, and boy, I’m in trouble. May not be the healthiest, but ironically, it wasn’t too salty or oily. I do wish the cut was a tab larger because the steamed bun was kinda big.

9. Seared scallop with roasted corn and bacon from Spoons:
Can’t leave the festival without eating a perfectly cooked scallop. Spoons offered this super fresh scallop that just melted in my mouth. The sweetness from the corn and saltiness from the bacon added so much flavor. A favorite.

And so that wraps up our food experience at Broad Appétit. If I had to pick my favorite dish from all that I sampled, it would be the salted chocolate caramel cake. I know it’s a dessert, but it was to die for. My second favorite would be pork belly buns. If you missed out this year, definitely make an attempt to remember next year. Look, even this kid (my nephew) had a great time at his first Broad Appétit experience!

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Jun 4, 2012

Sara & Bryan’s Handmade Vintage Wedding

Meet the newly Mr. & Mrs. Sara & Bryan whose wedding we had the honor of attending several weeks ago. Let me just tell you how freakin’ lovely and adorable this wedding was. Imagine going on a wedding blog like Green Wedding Shoes or Once Wed and picturing this wedding on there. Everything about it was so personalized, it was damn impressive. Lets take a look at all the handmade details the bride and groom put together for their friends and family.

Entrance: The wedding took place at the bride’s parents’ home. As you walk towards the house, you’re greeted with just some wonderful touches right off the bat. On a table, the bride placed turquoise Mason jars with a variety of bright and colorful flowers on a floral print linen. She also made a “Bryan & Sara” embroidered sign hung on a tree trunk, as well as, a “Welcome” sign in gold glitter letters. The DIY fan programs, ideal for a hot day, were placed in an old suitcase. Family photos were displayed in vintage frames on an old desk. Gifts could be placed in a wheel barrel of sorts that was covered with a quilt. Lace was hung in embroidery hoops off to the side. Seriously, there wasn’t anything Sara missed!

Ceremony: The ceremony was set off to one side of the property where the two said their vows. A bright red-orange, Indian patterned rug was placed at the foot of their handmade wooden altar. The ceremony was very sincere and sweet. It was short, which was nice because the sun was right on top of us. However, the vows and simplicity of it all, was very tender and emotional. They even had their pet dog walk around the ceremony. So cute!

Reception: After the ceremony, guests congregated under the tent where round tables were set up. Each table was covered in white linens and some had fabric or burlap overlays. Wine bottles were covered in yarn adding more color to the table. They also included a disposable camera with “Lets Play I Spy” game. The flowers were just so simple, carefree and colorful. Around the main centerpiece were smaller bottles with a single flower in each. The reception was very rustic and homey, which was very fitting because it was at a family home. I thought the décor was absolutely perfect.

Beverages: Guests could help themselves to all the beer and wine they could drink! The couple purchased three kegs — Fat Tire, Legend Brown and Miller Lite — and placed them in a canoe filled with ice. I drank white wine most of the time since the weather was warm. But, by the time I tried getting a beer, the kegs had been kicked! Missed my chance of drinking really good beer at a wedding…darn! Haha!

Food: And the food was served! I love the chalkboard frame Sara created to display the menu. Guests helped themselves to a buffet-style meal. Wooden disposable utensils and plastic plates were set on the table. Delicious food from steamed spiced shrimp to green salad with orange ginger dressing were served, which were my favorite items on the menu. Towards the end of the night after more drinking and some dancing, I definitely found myself at the buffet table eating more spiced shrimp…haha.

Cake: Seriously, one of the best slices of cake I’ve had at a wedding. It was homemade, moist, flavorful and not overly sweet with the icing and raspberry filling. The slice I got was practically the size of my head. Couldn’t finish it all, but that’s why I have Jared. He ate the rest of my slice, as well as, a slice of apple and key lime pie that were also served.

Style: Bryan and Sara’s style was totally them. Bryan looked cool with his black Raybans, blue plaid shirt, linen vest and khaki pants. Sara was a Greek goddess with her flowy off-white dress, hair loosely braided to the side, turquoise & gold earrings and red shoes. They were rocking it that night and there was nothing I didn’t love.

Sendoff: Sparklers and a scooter. Have you ever seen a more perfect combination? I loved it. I thought this was so personal and completely them. Bryan was cheesin’ from ear to ear, and so was Sara. I honestly think this was one of my favorite parts of the wedding.

Thanks so much Sara & Bryan for allowing me to share your beautiful wedding with my PTT readers! I know I didn’t showcase every single detail, but I was having too much of a good time :) Your wedding was one of my favorites that I’ve ever experienced. You guys did such a wonderful job on all the little details. I love when couples take the time to showcase their personality and style through the décor. Makes it memorable and special. Bellissimo!

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May 29, 2012

45-second Chocolate Cake

From the kitchen of: Isabel, inspired by Savor Home Blog   Makes: 3-4 cups
Total time:
10 minutes to prep, 45 seconds to cook 

Pinterest was the place where I found my inspiration for today’s post. I saw this amazingly yummy photo of a 60 second chocolate cake and pinned it to my “pretty enough to eat” board. 60 seconds to bake a cake? I was very skeptical at first, but now I am just impressed. The fact I can cook a cake in the microwave and in less than one minute is absurd. How is that even possible? Oh, let me show you.

Gather all the ingredients out of your pantry, mix everything together, pour batter in coffee cups and pop in the microwave. I felt like I was nine again playing with my Easy Bake Oven. This process literally took minutes. By the time I told Jared I was baking a chocolate cake, it was ready. I must say, he was the happiest 29-year-old man that day since I fed him three cups of chocolate cake. Haha. I think, though, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or a simple chocolate sauce, would have put this over the top.

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa power, plus 2 tablespoons
1/4 cup coffee, plus 2 tablespoons
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Top: Scoop of ice cream, whipped cream or chocolate sauce

1. Sift the dry ingredients.
Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder into a medium-size bowl.

2. Add wet ingredients. In the same bowl, add the coffee, eggs, vegetable oil and vanilla extract. Whisk to combine until you reach a glossy, smooth and thick batter. Next, take a coffee cup (I used an 8-oz cup, which is about half the size of a regular size coffee mug) and pour some batter in the cup filling it about half way.

3. Bake in the microwave. Place one cup in the microwave and cook for 45 seconds. I tested three different times. At 60 seconds, the cake was cooked all the way through and a little on the dry side. Next, I tried 45 seconds, which had more moisture and gooeyness. The third time, I went a little less at 40 seconds and it was too gooey. I was happy with the consistency of the cake at 45 seconds, but you should test your microwave because it could be more or less. Serve immediately with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or chocolate sauce.

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May 25, 2012

Filthy 5k Mud Run…One and done!

I don’t know why my husband convinces me to run. I am not a runner. Never have been. To run 3.1 miles is not normal to me. So to run 3.1 miles up and down hills, through mountain trails, across bridges and crossing through a mud pit…well, that’s definitely not normal. It’s a lot harder and more difficult than you think. But I did it! Wahoo! I accomplished my goal to at least finish the race and not stop. I only have Jared to thank for. He helped me cross the finish line with words of encouragement all the way through. Your support, Jared, is priceless.

Dominion Riverrock is a few years old to the Richmond area. It’s an outdoor lifestyle festival with tons of bands performing during the weekend with fun athletic races that include running, kayaking, biking, dog jumping and so much more. It’s an event that brings thousands of people to Brown’s Island in Richmond. We decided to participate in the Filthy 5K Mud Run just to cross it off our list. While it certainly was fun, I probably wouldn’t do it again. We both like to be active in our lives, but running is just not fun for me. I’d rather continue with MMA than run :)

Here’s a before and after photo of us:

After running 3.1 miles, we came close to the finish line and had to Army crawl through a mud pit. That’s probably the tannest Jared has ever been! The weather was pretty ideal. It was a little warm in the beginning, but as soon as the sun set, the temperature dropped and we were freezing!

We were able to rinse off with cold water through hoses that were set up for the runners. As a reward, each runner got one drink ticket to enjoy a beverage after the race. Honestly, Jared had to finish my beer because my whole body was shivering. We were both freezing to death, literally freezing, because it got so cold and we were still damp. As soon as we finished our drinks, we booked the hell out of there, turned the heat on in the car, drove home and took hot showers. We got into comfy clothes and fell asleep. Running certainly takes a lot out of you and I was exhausted.

Running the Filthy 5k was definitely a great experience to share with my husband, but like I said in my headline….ONE AND DONE!

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