Happy Valentine’s Day!

Remember that beef stew I talked about making two weeks ago in my new cast iron dutch oven? Yeah, we ate it all before I could photograph. It was darn good. Needless to say, I’ll be making it again soon, tweaking the recipe a bit and, of course, sharing it with all of you lovely people.

As for this amorous evening, I’m (well, “we are”) staying in. Why spend the money on dining out when you can whip up a heartfelt, gourmet meal at home? On the menu: Mexican-style braised beef short ribs over cheddar polenta and some sort of tasty green bean dish for a side (fresh ones, of course). As for dessert, I cheated and bought it from a secret supplier with the initials C.F. ;-)

Here are some more fun and delicious-looking recipes and articles that have caught my eye this past week; both from the site I run and from some pretty sweet-looking foodie blogs.

Liquid love: Valentine’s Day cocktails to enhance your amorous efforts – Since tequila happens to be my aqua vitae of choice, here are some fabulous cocktail recipes with tequila as the star ingredient to enhance your amorous efforts — or drown your singleton sorrows in.

My Blue Valentine: The god of love’s role in the discovery of blue cheese – Did you know that the mischievous Ancient Roman deity, Cupid, is legend to be the reason we have blue cheese? Blame it on him and a couple of horny shepherds.

Score some points on Valentine’s Day with this strawberry “tiramisu” trifle – This Hallmark holiday is a great excuse to indulge your sweet tooth, and with this easy and elegant recipe you’ll be able to impress your special guest(s) with a swanky-looking final course that you spent practically no time preparing.

Top Chef Podcast – All-Stars Ep. 9: Funny business – Whether you watch the show or not, our review of it is top notch snark and an all-around good time. Listen to us (attempt to) recap this episode and the hilarity that ensues.
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yoohoo_martini

While thumbing through an in flight magazine on the red-eye to San Antonio a few years ago, I stumbled across this fabulous cocktail recipe — the Hooville Martini. Whoever thought of using Yoo-Hoo as a mixer is a genius.

The Hooville was created for the bar menu at the trendy Ketchup restaurant in L.A., which features classic comfort food dishes with a gourmet twist. Their drink list also features other memorable kid beverages, like Sunny D and Kool-Aid, updated into playful and creative cocktails. “The Hooville takes on the creamy and chocolatey Yoo-Hoo, but with added almond flavor, since what goes better with chocolate than almond? It’s a nutty, rich tasting cocktail that makes a really good after-dinner drink,” says Ketchup’s bar manager, Darius Karsas.

I also think this would make a great breakfast or brunch drink, like an adult chocolate milk with a little ‘hair of the dog’.

Recipe after the break:

For a fun flavor variations, why not use Kahlua or your favorite flavored liqueur in place of the amaretto? Or try it caffeinated by using espresso-flavored vodka, thus giving it a mocha-like taste.
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Since I was too lazy (and busy working) today to come up with anything original today, I’ve decided to list some interesting and yummy-looking posts I’ve found today — and a few by me or my writers from the site I run and others I’ve found whilst perusing the foodie sites.

Cigar City Brewing invites local artists to design the 2011 Tocobaga Red Ale label – One of our fantabulous local brewing companies, Cigar City (who are also making quite a name for themselves), is taking design submissions for the label of one of their upcoming brews. The prize? $500 and a case of the beer!

SideBern’s Dean Hurst dishes on becoming a finalist for the 2010 Vinos De Jerez Cocktail Competition (and shares his recipe) – I talked to one of Tampa’s finest mixologists, Dean Hurst, about becoming a finalist in the national Sherry cocktail competition. He gives advice for newbie bartender/mixologists and even gives away his (not-so-secret) recipe. And from firsthand experience, the guy has a gift for creating cocktails.

Beer and film pairing: Harry and the Hendersons and Great Divide’s Espresso Oak Aged Yeti – Tom likes to pair beer and movies. Strange as it sounds, he does a great job at it. This one is a fun read and, after reading his review of the beer, I want some of that Great Divide Yeti beer!
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IMG_1931Last weekend I was fortunate enough to indulge in Disney’s International Food and Wine Festival at EPCOT Center. This marks the 14th year of an event that promises the chance to eat and drink your way around the world without ever having to break out your passport.

After attending this event for the past few years, I was pleasantly surprised to see that a majority of the regional menus had changed (after being exactly the same for the past few go-arounds) and that they’d added a few new cuisines, now up to 25 different international marketplaces. There were also more culinary classes and wine tastings to attend this year, many involving well-known food and wine celebrities like Iron Chef Cat Cora (who has a new restaurant, Kouzzina, that just opened at Disney’s Boardwalk), Andrew Zimmern (host of Bizarre Foods on the Travel Channel), the Deen Brothers (yes, Paula’s boys) and lying TV chef Robert Irvine.
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