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Stuff to Cook in Tampa Bay

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With the inspiration of our friends from Visit Tampa Bay, we decided to try out a couple of our favorite local recipes from some of our favorite local restaurants.

If you are up for the challenge, purchase Tampa’s Table: A Culinary Journey Through Tampa Bay and test your culinary skills.

Because, why quarantine on an empty stomach? And why not enjoy some of your local favorites while practicing social distancing? Not to mention, 100% of the proceeds go to help Feeding Tampa Bay fight food insecurity.

Below are some of our favorites that weren’t too challenging to make. But let it be known, we had a hard time narrowing them down!

Drinks to Create

Stuff to Cook in Tampa Bay


For lovers of gin, this cocktail from  Hotel Bar is equally refreshing as it is delicious.

  • 1.5 oz gin
  • 0.75 oz lemon juice
  • 0.5 oz simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar; heat until sugar is fully dissolved)
  • 0.25 oz grenadine or cherry juice

Shake and strain all ingredients over ice in a collins or tall glass. Top with club soda. Option to garnish with a lemon wheel.


This sweet treat is here to satisfy your sweet tooth, and we have the Harry Waugh Dessert Room at Berns to thank for that.

  • 1 cup vanilla ice cream
  • 0.5 oz orange juice
  • 1 oz orange schnapps
  • 1 oz Hangar 1 Mandarin Blossom Vodka
  • 1 orange wheel for garnish

Throw all of the ingredients into a blender, and blend for 10-20 seconds or until the texture is lush and creamy. Pour into glass and garnish with orange wheel.

Stuff to Cook in Tampa Bay

Strawberry Lemonade Fresca

Not a fan of alcohol? Not a  problem. Enjoy this refreshing lemonade from Fresh Kitchen.

Want to booze it up? Add a shot of vodka.

Serves 12

  • 1 gallon water
  • 1.5 cups fresh lemon juice
  • 1.25 cups simple syrup (equal parts turbinado sugar and water boiled until sugar dissolved, then cooled)
  • 1.5 cups fresh strawberry juice

Pour all ingredients into a large 2 gallon container or beverage dispenser. Use whisk to mix all ingredients well.

Food to Make

Avocado Hummus

Are you hungry or are you just bored? Maybe it’s both. But this hummus from Ciccio Cali won’t leave you feeling guilty from the constant snacking.

  • 2 quarts garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups avocado
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • 2 cups olive oil

In a food processor, combine all ingredients except avocado and oil. Blend until well incorporated. Add avocado and 1 cup of oil and blend again. Once the avocado is incorporated, slowly add the remaining oil until the desired consistency is reached.

Cuban Sandwich

The history of Tampa in one sandwich. Did you know in 2012, Tampa City Council proclaimed the Cuban as the “signature sandwich of the City of Tampa”? We love the Cubans from Columbia & Hemingways!

  • Cuban bread
  • Swiss Cheese
  • Salami
  • Ham
  • Pork
  • Pickles
  • Mustard

Layer all of the ingredients between two slices of cuban bread, and heat it up in a panini press.

Stuff to Cook in Tampa Bay

Tagliattelle Bolognese

If you love pasta as much as we do, then bon appetit. Bavaro’s – Pizza Napoletana & Pastaria left us drooling with this recipe.

Serves 3-4

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3/4 extra-virgin olive oil 
  • Salt
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, picked
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chopped rosemary 
  • 1/2 large onion
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 small carrot
  • 1/2 tablespoon chicken base or bouillon
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 24 ounces )1 jar) Bavaro’s Antico Pomodoro Sauce, or pomodoro sauce of choice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 box store-bought tagliatelle or spaghetti

Mince onion. celery and carrot into a food processor.

Begin by placing 10 cloves of peeled garlic in aluminum foil, cupped enough to rest garlic covered 3/4 in extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt, do not submerge. Roast at 300 degrees for 30-45 minutes on a small baking tray. Cool to room temperature in the oil.

Preheat a large sauce pot coated with olive oil on medium high heat. Break the ground beef into very small chunks and place in pan. Cook for 10 minutes, browning the meat. Add thyme, rosemary and black pepper. Cook for another minute. Add onion, celery and carrot mix. Sauté for 10-15 minutes or until onion is translucent. 


Place garlic cloves in saucepot and sauté for 30 seconds. Add chicken base and cook for 1 minute continuously stirring. Deglaze pan with red wine and reduce heat until nearly dry. Add pasta sauce.

In boiling water, add sea salt and extra-virgin olive oil. Cook pasta according to directions on box. Reheat Bolognese in a large skillet. When hot, add cooked pasta and sauté together for one minute. Serve and enjoy.

Desserts to Bake

Gooey Toffee Bar

Dessert Spot has blessed us with this ooey, gooey deliciousness that no one can resist.

For dough:

  • 4 sticks butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1.5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour

For topping:

  • 12 ounces of Toffee To Go Toffee Dessert Sauce
  • 1.5 teaspoons coarse sea salt
  • 0.75 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat over to 325 degrees. Grease a 9×13 in baking pan with butter or line with parchment paper. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugars together on medium speed. Add vanilla and then turn speed down to low. Slowly add the flour until a soft dough forms.

Press half of the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan, then wrap the remaining half in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Bake for 25 minutes or until the edges are golden.

In the meantime, make the caramel topping by mixing the Toffee to Go Toffee Dessert Sauce, salt and flour together until smooth. Remove the pan from the over and pout the caramel over the top. Crumble the remaining dough into bits and sprinkle it over the caramel.

Return the pan to the oven for an additional 25 minutes. Cool completely and cut into small squares.

Cuban Sugar Cookies

La Segunda Bakery gets first place with this easy to make sugar cookie.

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon flavor
  • 1.5 teaspoons bakers ammonia
  • Pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients into a mixing bowl. Mix completely until a soft dough forms. Using a 2-ounce cookie scoop, scoop the dough onto a cookie sheet. Once placed, flatten the dough slightly. Bake in a 350 degree oven until the bottom of the cookies are light brown. Let cool and enjoy.

Stuff to Cook in Tampa Bay
📷 Yelp

Banana Bread Pudding

This bread pudding is bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S. And that’s exactly how we’re feeling (bananas) over this Bern’s recipe. 

For the banana bread:

  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1.25 cups sugar
  • 1.5 cups pureed bananas (about 3 large bananas)
  • 1 stick plus 1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 2/3 cups pecans, finely chopped

For the custard:

  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream

For the banana bread:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a 13×9 in baking pan. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, salt and baking soda. Set pan and flour mixture aside.

Using an electric mixer, combine eggs and sugar. Add the banana puree and mix until fully combined. Add dry ingredients and beats until combined. Add butter and pecans and mix until just combined.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth with an offset spatula. Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow the baked banana bread to cool slightly before turning out of the pan. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Slice banana bread into 1/2 inch cubes. Toast cubed banana bread in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes to create golden brown, slightly crispy pieces.

For the custard:

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine sugar, eggs, milk and cream. Stir gently until warm and sugar is dissolved, which will take about 8 to 10 minutes. Divide banana bread cubes among 6 ramekins. Pour custard over banana bread cubes, while allowing the warm custard to soak into the banana bread cubes briefly. Transfer ramekins into a large roasting pan. Carefully fill the roasting pan partially with hot water; come halfway up the sides of baking dish. Bake for about 35 minutes until custard is set. Serve warm.


More! More! More!

  • Grape Juice
  • 1.5 oz Bacardi Banana
  • .5 oz Banana puree
  • 1 oz Sour
  • 2 oz Pineapple Juice 
Take grape juice and fill an ice cube tray and let it freeze.
Once the grape juice is frozen into cubes, add the cubes to a 12 oz glass.  
Mix the rest of the ingredients into a shaker tin, shake, serve, enjoy!
  • 1.5 oz Absolut Pear vodka
  • 1.5 oz St. Germain
  • 1 Emergen-C pack
  • Citrus for garnish
  • Champagne
Pour vodka, St. Germain and Emergen-C into a mixing glass. Top with Ice. Pour into glass. Add citrus for garnish and top off with champagne. 

If you do not enjoy cooking, then check out some local restaurants that are offering take-out and delivery.

If you do enjoy cooking, then let us know what some of your favorite recipes are. We’d love to try them out!

To stay updated with everything happening around Tampa Bay, follow Stuff to Do in Tampa Bay on Facebook and Instagram.


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Stefanie Font

Stefanie Font

Stefanie is a City Manager for UNATION and author of the Stuff to Do in Tampa Bay City Guide. For more insight on the best events and things to do in the Tampa Bay area, download the UNATION app and follow @StufftoDoinTampaBay on InstagramFacebook, and YouTube

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