Adventures in Dining “In”

Dining out has historically served as the ideal way to celebrate a special occasion, to pass the time on a Friday or Saturday night, go on a date, or romance a loved one.

With so many amazing restaurants in Miami, it is possible to eat out every single night of the week – and then have more to try. But, while eating out is fun and glamorous, it is also expensive. And for those with allergies, dietary issues, wanting to lose weight, and the like, it is more difficult to eat out. After all, do you ever truly know what your meal is made with and how it is prepared?

With that said, there is an alternative – eating in. While certainly not as exciting and there is less people watching going on, it does have its merits. Let’s begin with the fact that it can be cost effective. You can eat well and not break the bank. If you take the time, you can find interesting foods of all kinds to try. I was at Lorenzo’s earlier today picking up pastrami turkey for lunch when I passed by the fresh pasta counter. For $4.99 a pound, I purchased freshly made gnocchi (for those who do not know this incredible item, gnocchi are little round dumplings made of potatoes and flour or semolina). You can eat them with red gravy (sauce), browned butter, Alfredo, or whatever else strikes your fancy. Mine actually came with a container of pre-made cream sauce adding even more value to the already inexpensive meal. I’ll start with a salad and voila- instant meal.

But there’s more to eating at home than just getting a bargain. This weekend, my husband and I decided that we wanted to stay in. In preparation for Easter Sunday (on Saturday) we ran to our neighborhood Costco in North Miami Beach and began thinking about what we could make for dinner on Saturday night and then, on Sunday. In lieu of going out to a steakhouse or sushi place on Saturday, we bought two lobster tails ($25.50) and a pound of U-8 shrimp ($15.50).

So what was for dinner Saturday night? We pulled the lobster tails and shrimp. They were both frozen fresh. They thawed in no time and we simply steamed them. We like variety when we eat, so we grilled half of a turkey sausage ($2.50) and cut it up into pieces and placed it next to the shrimp on a giant wooden cutting board, which would double as a serving piece.

We then headed into the garden and picked basil and all kinds of tomatoes including black krim, patio, beefsteak, Mr. Stripey, yellow cherry and red grape tomatoes. Perfect! We diced some of the fruit, adding salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar, and the fresh basil to create an artisan bruschetta. Then, with the tomatoes that were not yet used, we sliced them and paired them with Burrata (which is a cheese similar to mozzarella. We bought at the Yellow Greenmarket for $5 earlier that day). We added salt, pepper, and a balsamic glaze. We looked around the house and found – a can of olives, a bottle of roasted red peppers, and some wheat crackers. They’re all placed onto the serving board. Then to finish the meal, a bottle of sparkling wine, which we always have chilling in the fridge. Delish.

With so much food, we decided to leave the lobster for Sunday. And Sunday evening, we threw them onto the grill accompanied by approximately 2 dozen cherry and grape tomatoes. They were served over a bed of wilted spinach (which you can purchase in any market for a few dollars) and there it was.

Dinner was so satisfying, low in calories and fat, and reasonable! It cost a total of $40 for two decent sized lobster tails and eight huge shrimp. That is less than one entrée in most steak houses! So when you are looking for a great night in, do it yourself! You’ll be glad you did!

Shari Lynn Rothstein has been writing about food, wine, lifestyles and fashion for more than 20 years, in New York and Florida. She resides in Aventura. Shari can be reached at for comments, questions thoughts.

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