SoWe Restaurant & Bar

A requirement of Dave’s when we decided to move was that we had to have a neighborhood bar.  After living in a residential area for two years in his old apartment, he was ready to live somewhere he could walk home from.  You know, a bar where everybody knows your name… that sort of thing.

In the month we’ve lived in the city, we’ve found tons of great restaurants and bars in walking distance from our apartment.  We’re loving the city life.  Of course it took Dave going away for a boys weekend for me to discover what I think will be one of our very favorite neighborhood bars.  Sorry Dave!  We’ll just have to go back!

I took a walk with my friend Emily down the street to SoWe Restaurant and Bar for dinner this past weekend.  We knew it was going to be a great place when I saw the specials written on a pig shaped chalkboard.

We started the meal off with drinks from the cocktail list.  Emily ordered the Fall Fiz (Vodka, Dried Cranberries, Ginger) and I chose to get the Gazer (Hendricks Gin, White Cranberry, St. Germaine, and Cucumber) at the recommendation of our server.  We really liked both of our drinks.  Both drinks were refreshing and not too sweet.  They were pretty too, mine with a light green color and Em’s with bright red cranberries covering the bottom.

For starters, we ordered the Brussel Sprouts and Sweet Potato Fries.  The fries were so good, fresh and cooked to perfection with sea salt and an amazing sweet maple dipping sauce.  The Brussels are cooked with Bacon and Red Bell Peppers in Balsamic Vinegar.  I could eat like three servings of these.  YUM!

I. Love. BRUSSELS.  Especially when they're cooked with Bacon.  MMM

I. Love. BRUSSELS. Especially when they’re cooked with Bacon. MMM

Crispy Sweet Po Fries

Crispy Sweet Po Fries

Next up, Emily ordered the special appetizer of the night for her entree- Fish Tacos.  They sounded too good to pass up!  Em loved the fish tacos which were stuffed with grilled Tilapia, Mango Salsa, and a creamy Jalapeno sauce.  I couldn’t resist trying out the SoWe Burger after seeing someone else’s picture of it on Yelp.  The fries were amazing.  I somehow managed to cut my burger and take half home since it was so incredibly massive (a feat i attempt often but rarely accomplish).  The signature 1/2lb burger comes on a toasted brioche bun.  It’s stuffed with fried Peppers and Onions, Sharp Cheddar, Smoked Bacon, and a delicious Horseradish Mayo.  This is a burger you do not want to miss.  OMG!

Wish this was on the menu, not just a special

Wish this was on the menu, not just a special

Everything about this burger was delicious!  Aghghhhh YUM

Everything about this burger was delicious! Aghghhhh YUM

I think we did a pretty good job of finding a great neighborhood bar with yummy food and drinks!  The atmosphere was laid back and the service was great.  SoWe is a place I’ll definitely be coming back to… I’m thinkin’ next time for some Tuesday $1 Oysters and Quizzo!

Have you been here before?  Check out these other great Restaurant/Bars!

Devil's Alley, Center City Philly

Devil’s Alley, Center City Philly

Manayunk Tavern, Manayunk

Manayunk Tavern, Manayunk

Silk City, Northern Liberties Philly

Silk City, Northern Liberties Philly

Apple-Toffee Blondies w/ Brown Sugar Frosting

L’Shana Tova everyone!  Today is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.  Traditionally, apples and honey are eaten on Rosh Hashanah to symbolize a “sweet” new year.  I’ve had my eye on this recipe for a while and wanted to take the “sweet” new year tradition to a new level.

Eating apples is a tradition on the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah

Apple-Toffee Blondies w/ Brown Sugar Frosting

Recipe by:  Cookies & Cups Apple Toffee Blondies

Ingredients:

2/3 Cup Butter (room temp, you’ll need 2 sticks)

2 Cups Light Brown Sugar, packed

2 Eggs

2 teaspoons Vanilla

2 Cups All-Purpose Flour

2 teaspoons Baking Powder

1/2 teaspoon Salt

1  Green Apple, peeled and chopped

1/2 Cup Toffee Bits* + 1 Tablespoon to garnish

Frosting Ingredients:

1/2 Cup Butter (1 Stick)

1 Cup Light Brown Sugar, packed

1/4 Cup Skim Milk

2 Cups Powdered Sugar

*You can find the toffee bits in a bag just like chocolate chips, in the same area.  

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 and spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.

2.  Cream butter and brown sugar until smooth.  This took me a good 5 minutes, having to stop to take a knife and remove gunked up dough from the beaters a few times.  Add eggs and vanilla, continuing to beat on medium speed until it’s well combined.  

3.  Turn the mixer to low and add the flour, baking powder, and salt slowly until a dough forms.  Stop the mixer.  Add the chopped apples and toffee and stir with a sturdy spoon, it will be very thick.  

4.  Spread evenly into the prepared baking dish.  Mine did not cover the entire thing… it will spread in the oven.  Bake 30 minutes.  Remove and place on a cooling rack until it is completely cool.

5.  For the frosting, melt the butter in a saucepan.  Add brown sugar and milk.  Bring to a boil, stirring so it does not burn.  Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.  Slowly, using a whisk, stir in the powdered sugar.  Let cool until it thickens enough to spread onto the blondies once they are cool as well.  

6.  Let the iced blondies set for at least 30 minutes, then cut into bars.

Everything ready for a nice stir!

You can see how the batter didn’t completely coat the bottom of the pan. Don’t worry.

Here they are out of the oven and cooling. You can see the center is set and the edges have just started to brown. Perfect.

Blondies iced, toffeed, and ready to be cut and devoured.

These blondies are amazing.  I’m not even kidding you… I think this is THE best dessert I’ve ever baked.  Dave and I tried a little baby piece of blondie after a huge dinner.  We were BOTH blown away.  They ROCK. 

While this recipe is NOT healthy, it is certainly worth the calories to try one.  Or two… plus the batter from the bowl.  No big deal.

So, it’s a really easy dessert to make despite the fact that there are two separate parts.  I made the icing while the blondies were in the oven.  The icing was simple and I was able to sit back, relax, and enjoy my iced coffee.  MMM.

The icing is super sweet so I didn’t use all of it on the bars.  I saved some to use for later… maybe to dip some apples in… or to just eat with a spoon.  Cut these babies (like all brownies) with a PLASTIC knife.  Just a little trick that will help keep them nice and pretty.

Like I said, it’s going to be one SWEET New Year!

Happy New Year to all!

The gorgeous photo Cookies & Cups took of her bars… if only mine could look THAT perfect!

Continental, Atlantic City NJ

Sometimes, all you need is a good Date Night!

While my boyfriend Dave and I love being with my entire family at the shore in the summer, sometimes it gets to be a little much!  Dave had spent the week at the shore at Adam’s house, so I hadn’t really seen him much either.  He was so sweet and asked me out on a date night!  

After an hour on Yelp, we couldn’t decide where to go.  We ended up waiting so long that most places had a huge wait.  We ended up picking one of the most dependable restaurants we know:  Continental.

Continental is one of Stephen Starr’s restaurants, and also happens to be the first one ever!  Stephen Starr restaurants are pretty much all fabulous.  Maybe a little overpriced, but you can always count on interesting, fresh, and really really delicious food.  His restaurants are all themed and beautifully decorated too, which makes for a great atmosphere.  He’s got Sushi, Asian, French, British, Steakhouse, Burgers, Italian, Mexican, and a ton more.

“Global Tapas” is the theme for Continental which also has some pretty fabulous cocktails.  One of my favorites is the “Twizzle”:  Smirnoff Citrus, Strawberry Puree, Lemon, and garnished with a red licorice wheel.  It’s adorable.  On this particular night, I decided to change it up and order the “Champagne-O-Rama”: Smirnoff Raspberry and sparkling wine with a grenadine-sugar rimmed glass.  It was REALLY strong, maybe even too strong!

Loved the rim!

Dave and I were actually not that hungry but we ordered some great stuff!

French Onion Soup Dumplings: gruyere cheese

These are awesome!  You have to be careful when you go to eat them though, they are HOT.  We popped the dumplings out of their little holes and let them cool first.  It tastes exactly like french onion soup.

French Onion Soup Dumplings baked in its’ very own crock!

MMMMM!

Jumbo Lump Crab Pad Thai: rice noodles, tofu, egg, scallions and peanuts

While I still think that the best Pad Thai is at Silk Cuisine, my favorite Thai restaurant… Continental’s Pad Thai is pretty high up there on the list.  First of all, it was huge.  The sauce was really good, not too salty, not too sweet.  The entire thing was covered with crab meat.

Pad Thai

Crispy Calamari Salad: chopped greens, carrots, tomatoes, sprouts and soy-sesame dressing

I absolutely positively cannot go to Continental without ordering the Calamari Salad.  It is actually on my own personal “Best Thing I Ever Ate” list… as well as Anne Burrell’s!  She picked this salad as her favorite thing in the “…to eat with Chopsticks” episode.  It is freakin’ amazing.  The calamari is only lightly coated and is perfectly seasoned.  The dressing… wow… it’s a little tangy but very light, and is the perfect compliment to the salty calamari.  WOW.

Check out alllllll the good stuff in this salad. WOW

Although this was all we ordered this time around, I of course have to recommend a few other items for you:

Szechuan Shoestring Fries: drizzled with Chinese mustard sauce

Orange-Chile Glazed Calamari: papaya salsa

Chilean Sea Bass: miso glaze, Chinese broccoli and sweet potato mash

Cheesesteak Eggroll: crispy onions and sriracha ketchup

Amazing Sea Bass.  Also, voted one of the top French Fries in Philly!

Salted Caramel Pecan Bars

OMG.  Salted Caramel is my new favorite thing.  It is so good.  I have always been a big fan of the sweet-salty combination, I’m very happy it’s grown in popularity over the past few years.

Where I work is doing a week-long fundraiser to raise money for MS.  One of our big events is a bake sale where all of our staff brings in homemade (or store bought if they’re lazy!) treats that we sell to our members for donations to the charity.

Now that I’m doing this blog, there was a lot of pressure to make something interesting!  After throwing around some ideas and searching in my database of hundreds of saved recipes, I came across this Southern Living reinvented classic and decided this was “the one”.  And oh… believe me… it is… THE ONE.  YUM!!!!!

Salted Caramel-Pecan Bars

Recipe from:  Southern Living, Dec 2010

Total Time:  1 Hour

Ingredients:

1 cup Chopped Pecans

12 Low-Fat Honey Graham Crackers, whole

1 cup Light Brown Sugar, firmly packed

3/4 cup Butter

2 Tablespoons Whipping Cream

1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350°. Bake the pecans on a foil-lined baking sheet for 10 minutes, stirring halfway through.  Be careful, I almost completely burnt mine (they still tasted wonderful).

2.  Line a 15- x 10-inch jelly-roll pan (I only had a 9×13 baking dish) with aluminum foil; spray the foil (Allow foil to go over edge 2 inches or so, you’ll need it later). Arrange graham crackers in a single layer in prepared pan, slightly overlapping edges.

3.  Combine sugar, butter, and cream in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla and toasted pecans. Pour butter mixture over crackers, spreading to coat.

4.  Bake at 350° for 10 to 11 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly.

5.  Immediately sprinkle with kosher salt, and slide foil from pan onto a wire rack. *This will be VERY hot.  Be careful and use the foil, folding it to contain the bars and keep their shape.*  Let cool for 30 minutes, at least.  Break or cut and serve.

Pot ‘o’ Gold!!

Pre-Baking Post-Pouring step

I let mine sit overnight just out of lack of time, and then cut them the next morning.  They were really sticky but they cut into nice little squares.

For our bake sale, I wrapped two together into plastic wrap… put them all into a big bag and into the refrigerator.  This kept them nice and cool, which was definitely needed since it’s been so hot lately!

They were a big hit, and not to mention every one of my typical taste testers approved it too!

Next time, I’d like to make more of the sauce.  I think that part could have been a little thicker.  Otherwise, they were fabulous.  I loved the salt ontop.  What a great non-chocolate dessert!