The Back Porch in Destin, FL

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The Back Porch has been become somewhat of an icon for most people visiting the beach.  Each night throngs of people stroll up from the beach to get a picture in the oversized beach chair and let their children play on the sand while they wait for a table.  And it won’t take long, not really.  It just seems long because you are hot.  And sandy.

Forget your troubles.  If you are a tourist, there’s no getting around it.  You have to go to the Back Porch.  The restaurant itself is basically outdoor seating inside.  All of the windows open up to allow the beach air to flow through.  Hope to sit by a window with a cross breeze.  On my last 2 visits, I have not and have nearly died from heat exhaustion.  A bit of an exaggeration, but my teenage son really did get sick to his stomach because he was so hot in an interior room.

We started our dinner with an order of raw oysters and an order of fried calamari.  The Oysters were fresh and plump and absolutely perfect.  My only complaint is that I wish they were served on a bed of ice, because they’d begun to warm up before we finished them.  The calamari was crispy and tender, served with a tart marinara sauce.  My kids loved them.

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The crab stuffed shrimp (pictured above, blurry) were really delicious.  Stuffed with crabmeat and topped with a lemony butter sauce, then broiled to a crispy perfection.  The stuffed potato was creamy and cheesy and needed just a touch of salt.   The Southern corn medley is studded with peppers and beans and was a flavorful accompaniment to the seafood.

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My husband ordered the blackened ahi, rare.  He reported that though the seasoning was delicious, his tuna was overcooked.

It’s never perfect, but it’s always good.  My favorite times at the Back Porch are coming in from the beach in the afternoon for a late lunch in flip flops and a cover up.  Smoked tuna dip never tasted so good.

Back Porch Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Buttermilk: Ways to use up your quart

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Are you like me and eagerly buy the ingredients for a recipe and soon have a fridge full of jars and jugs that have been opened once?  Drives me crazy!  Buttermilk is one of those things.  As a southern girl, I should be able to rattle off a dozen different ways to use up a quart of buttermilk, but the truth is, it generally gets shoved to the back until I’m too late to use it (experts say it will keep for 2 weeks in your fridge or 3 months in your freezer.)  No more.

An article in All You magazine inspired me to share some of the ideas to use up buttermilk or even make your own.  If you have some easy ways to use up buttermilk, I’d love to hear them!

Make it Yourself!

GOT MILK?  Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to a cup measure and fill the rest with milk. Let stand 10 minutes and then whisk before using.

GOT YOGURT?  Measure 2/3 cup yogurt (or sour cream) into a small bowl.  Add 1/3 cup milk and whisk until combined.

Use it up

But perhaps my favorite way to use up some buttermilk is to make Buttermilk Syrup..and sometimes I even add raspberries.  My goodness…

Buttermilk Syrup

Buttermilk syrup with raspberry

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

directions

  1. Place first five ingredients in large saucepan.

  2. Bring to boil and cook for 7 minutes (mixture will foam), stirring to prevent scorching.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.  I also stirred in some raspberries I had on hand, yum!

     

     

     

Pan-Fried Shrimp With Creole Mayonnaise

These fried shrimp are so yummy!  They remind me of some I’ve had at Carabba’s.  They have an Italian flavor that would also be yummy on Shrimp Parmesan as well.

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Pan-Fried Shrimp With Creole Mayonnaise

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt-free creole seasoning, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup nonfat milk
  • 3/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 1 1/2 lbs large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons canola mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce

 

directions

  1. Combine flour, 1 teaspoons creole seasoning, and salt in a shallow dish. Pour milk into a shallow dish. Place breadcrumbs in a shallow dish. Dredge shrimp in flour mixture; dip in milk. Dredge shrimp in breadcrumbs; shake off excess breading.

  2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add half of the shrimp; cook 2 minutes on each side or until done. Repeat procedure with remaining oil and shrimp.

  3. Combine mayonnaise, remaining creole seasoning, worchestershire and hot sauce in a small bowl; stir with a whisk. Serve creole mayonnaise with shrimp.

Splat! Coffee n’ such

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My sister introduced me to Splat! when she brought me some delicious wedding cupcakes for my birthday. They were heavenly! Almond cake with a yummy fluffy white icing and pearl dragees. Honestly, I am not a fan of the crunchy dragees, but they were so pretty, I forgave the garnish.

Even though I admittedly went in for cupcakes, I did sample an Italian soda and it was sweet and delicious. The atmosphere is relaxed and warm, with plenty of seating.

The selection of baked goods here is small, but you are sure to find something you’ll enjoy!

Splat! coffee n' such on Urbanspoon

Melt in Your Mouth Lemon Bars

My daughter Mary Ashley loves to cook with me, but she prefers baking sweets over dinner every night.  So, because I am a wonderful parent, I bribe her to help me make dinner by agreeing to bake a dessert at the same time.  One night we pulled up this recipe as we were making dinner and I tried to shoot it down because it had 3 separate steps.  She insisted, and lo and behold,  was she ever right.  These bars are worth every tiny bit of extra effort.

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Melt in Your Mouth Lemon Bars

Ingredients

  • CRUST
  • 2 c all purpose flour
  • 1 c butter softened (no substituting)
  • 1/2 c powdered sugar
  • FILLING
  • 4 eggs (slightly beaten)
  • 2 c sugar
  • 4 Tbsp flour
  • 6 Tbsp lemon juice
  • FROSTING
  • 1/2 c butter (softened)
  • 1 c powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp milk
  • 2 Tbsp cold water

directions

  1. MIX CRUST INGRED. WITH FORK AS YOU WOULD FOR A PIE CRUST. PAT INTO A 9X13 PAN WHICH HAS BEEN GREASED AND FLOURED. BAKE AT 350 DEGREES FOR 15 MINUTES.

  2. AS CRUST IS BAKING. MIX FILLING. AFTER CRUST HAS BAKED 15 MINUTES, POUR FILLING OVER CRUST AND CONTINUE BAKING FOR 25 MINUTES. COOL BARS COMPLETELY

  3. MAKE FROSTING BY BEATING BUTTER,POWDERED SUGAR AND MILK FOR 6 TO 8 MINUTES ON HIGH SPEED. THEN ADD 2 TBLSP. COLD WATER ONE AT A TIME. BEAT UNTIL SMOOTH. SPREAD OVER COOLED BARS.

 

Restaurant Review: Pomodoro’s in Mooresville

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Pomodoro’s is an Italian restaurant tucked into a shopping center in Mooresville.  From the outside, the restaurant looks unassuming, but go on inside.  It is actually larger than you would think.  We arrived at 5:30 pm on a Saturday evening and were seated right away.  As we were leaving an hour or so later, there was a line.  Come early!

This restaurant has a ton of booths.  They are straight backed, and looked to be kind of tight.  I requested a table since my fused ankles don’t do well trying to get up from the booth.  There were only a few in the back, which won’t be a big deal to everyone, but it was to me, so I mention it.  The hostess graciously made the change for us with little fanfare.

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We got a couple of appetizers for the table and both were done very well.  The first was the Salt and Pepper Fried Calamari.  These are served with marinara sauce for dipping.  They were seasoned perfectly, breaded lightly and fried quickly until just done.  There was not a tough ring on the plate.  If you like Calamari, these are done well.

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We also got the Bruschetta which was different than I’d had before but so delicious.  The bread slices were toasted with olive oil and encircled the pile of sweet tomatoes dotted with basil, parmesan cheese and kalamata olives.  All of this was drizzled with balsamic vinegar.  I was expecting the bites to be tangy, as I’ve had before, but they were actually very sweet.  I loved it.  It was easily my favorite appetizer.  Also pleasing was how crispy the bread was.  The olives provided just enough salty bite to make it all work.

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All of our meals came with a Garden Salad.  This salad was huge!  It came with a mixture of lettuces, tomatoes, black olives and shredded mozzarella cheese.  All of their dressings are homemade (yes!) and I had the Ranch.  It was delicious!  The salad was maybe even my favorite part of the whole meal, so fresh and delicious!  And I normally don’t like tomatoes, but the one on our salad was canned, and tasted perfect.  I’m not sure if they were out of fresh tomatoes or if that is just the way they plate the salads, but it was wonderful!

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My entrée was the Veal Marsala.  I hate to report that it was terrible.  The marsala sauce was very sweet and the veal was chewy and inedible.  I asked for a serving of marinara sauce for my spaghetti noodles just to be able to finish the pasta.  I would not recommend this dish to anyone.   However, everyone else had dishes that they loved, so I am still going to recommend this restaurant.  Just skip this dish.

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My friend got the Sirloin Steak con Gorgonzola and said it was amazing.  It was grilled to a perfect medium and served atop a creamy Gorgonzola sauce with steamed broccoli and pasta on the side.  It looked wonderful!

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My other friend had Zuppa di Pesce which was a soupy tomato broth filled with sautéed shrimp, clams, mussels, scallops and calamari over fettuccini noodles in a soup bowl.  Though the broth was a bit watery on top, the seafood was cooked perfectly.  Also, my friend discovered that when she dug from the bottom is was much more flavorful as the garlic bits and spices seemed to gather at the bottom.  So, if you get this, and you should, make sure you scoop from the bottom to the top every now and again to distribute all of the goodies.

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Lastly, my husband got a simple pasta dish of penne pasta with meatballs and marinara sauce.  He raved about this dish.  The marinara was so flavorful and well spiced, it needed nothing.  The meatballs were tender and huge!

We will definitely be back to Pomodoro’s for another visit very soon.  The prices were very reasonable and you get a lot of food for your money.  This is truly a hidden gem.

Pomodoro's Italian American on Urbanspoon

Roasted Lemon Garlic Herb Shrimp

We love shrimp.  So, here’s another shrimp recipe.  Hope you love it as much as I do.  Serves 2

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Roasted Lemon Garlic Herb Shrimp

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 lemon, zested then half cut into thin slices and other half into wedges
  • 3 -4 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves removed
  • kosher salt and fresh black pepper
  • spaghetti or pasta, couscous or rice, for serving
  • 1 lb fresh shrimp, medium-sized, deveined with tails off
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced

directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

  2. In a 9×13 baking pan combine olive oil, lemon zest and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.

  3. Bake in oven for 12 minutes. Meanwhile cook pasta, couscous or rice.

  4. Remove pan from oven, add shrimp, garlic and the thin sliced lemons (don’t squeeze them), toss to coat with oil mixture.

  5. Bake for 8-10 more minutes or until shrimp turn pink and start to curl.

  6. Serve over pasta, couscous or rice tossed with extra-virgin olive oil and fresh-squeezed lemon with additional lemon wedges for serving.