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Please excuse the lack of photos in some of my older posts as I am trying to slowly go back through and add the photos that were accidentally deleted

June 30, 2011

Happy Blogiversary to Me!!!! [a day late]

Guys!!! Guys!!! I just realized that yesterday, June 29th, was the one year anniversary of the start of this blog. Wow. Time really does fly by. It has truly been a wonderful experience, meeting new people who share my love of food, learning about food photography and improving on it, trying new restaurants, and branching out of my comfort zone by making new recipes. I don't ever want to stop! So happy one year blogiversary to this little blog that started as a way for me to review restaurants... and has turned into so much more. Now I have an idea of some of the things that make me happy in life, and blogging and FOOD are two of them.

{Source}

So.... I'm thinkin.... maybe a little giveaway???? You guys up for that? I thought you might be :) I wanted to back when I reached 100 followers. But that didn't happen. So this is the perfect opportunity for my first giveaway! I'm excited, and a little nervous, not gonna lie. I don't really know why, lol! 

Now I just need to think about what to giveaway. Stay tuned!

And thanks for all of you amazing followers. Your comments, your advise and suggestions, and your thoughtfulness have been so appreciated. It's been a pleasure getting to know all of you. Thanks for reading :)

Peace, and bacon grease!

June 29, 2011

Monterey Ranch Bread























By now, you know that I am slightly obsessed with Cassie's blog. Not the stalker kinda way. Just the kinda way that I swear by all of her recipes. I will make anything that she recommends on her blog. I seriously have a list of over 100 recipes of hers that I must make! Here's one to cross off the list.... her Monterey Ranch Bread. Because everyone needs a high caloric yet delicious side item here and there! Ok yes, this recipe uses a few fatty ingredients. But hey if you add some parsley for garnish, that can count as being a healthy, right? - it's green and a veggie :)

Anyways, high in calories or not, this bread is also high in flavor. Can you really go wrong with ranch and cheese-covered crusty bread? Exactly.

The original recipe comes from Taste of Home, and I am usually a fan of their recipes, so I figured it would be a keeper if both TOH AND Cassie say so!






















Monterey Ranch Bread
slightly adapted from Cassie Craves and Krista's Kitchen , who adapted it from Taste of Home
  • 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 3/4 cup ranch dressing
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • Loaf of French bread, split in half lengthwise (use however much you need, we didn't use the whole loaf)
  • Fresh parsley, for garnish
    In a bowl, melt butter and stir in garlic powder. Brush on the bread with a pastry brush. Place bread under broiler until it's slightly brown and crispy.

    Combine cheese and ranch dressing and divide evenly over bread. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

    Sprinkle with parsley for garnish. Let sit 5 minutes before slicing.


    Printable Recipe


    Next time I think I will make it with the parsley, because it makes the picture just a little more colorful and pretty.

















    And as you can see, we served this bread with some White Chicken Chili. I'll have that recipe for you one of these days. Perfect for chilly fall or winter evening.


    Peace, and bacon grease!


    June 27, 2011

    Menu Planning - Week of 6/27/11

    I was off today. But not for fun. My face is kind of in pain and swollen. I had to get some tag removed from my nose! So for the next week or so I'm going to look awful! Ok not to that extent maybe, but the pimple-like thing on my nose will be red and swollen, and then will eventually scab up and turn black and ugly. Ew. I'm not looking forward to this. But I'll be happy when it's gone. I was going to slap the next person who told me I had something on my nose, handing me a tissue, as if it were a booger or something. No people, I'm sorry my face isn't perfect. I'll try to live up to your standards next time. So now that it will be red and swollen and black and scabby, maybe they will notice that it's actually my skin and not comment on it. Or maybe I'll wear one of those little circular bandaids on the tip of my nose. At least three people have said something to me about it, two of which were strangers. Rude much? Ok maybe they were just trying to help a sista out, in case I did need a tissue or somethin. I just want my face to be back to normal! Ok enough about my face :) Are you grossed out yet?

    So since I was at home I had plenty of time for menu planning. Last night we were supposed to make that evil chicken dinner, but we ordered Dominos instead. So we made that tonight since I bought all of the ingredients at Kroger yesterday.

    Monday 6/27/11:  Evil Chicken Dinner

    Tuesday 6/28/11:  out to eat with family



    Friday 7/1/11:  BBQ Beef Shepherd's Pie




    Linking up to Menu Plan Monday. 











    And this upcoming weekend is already 4th of July weekend. Holy smokes! How does the time fly? Be safe, everyone!

    Peace, and bacon grease!

    Tomato Garlic Pork Loin Roast























    Cooking large meats sometimes makes me nervous. I don't want to under or over cook it. I mean, I can work with an undercooked meat. But once you overcook it, it's a wrap. It becomes tough and dry, and who wants to waste a giant piece of meat?! Not me! So the thought of messing up attempting to cook a large piece of meat has intimidated me a bit. But no more. Granted, I wasn't cooking a large turkey or whole beef tenderloin (I can't even imagine messing either one of those up!), I was only cooking a 1.75 lb pork loin roast. But it still seemed large, and therefore somewhat of a challenge. And I still wouldn't say I know how to cook a pork loin roast perfectly every time. The length of time to cook certain meats can vary depending on how big the meat is. So I like to use the times on the original recipe as guidelines, as well as compare to other pork loin roast recipes on the web, with a side of my own judgment. Because, like I said, I would hate hate hate to overcook such a large, nice piece of meat. While this roast wasn't perfect, it was decent... I'm not rushing to make it again though. I want to keep practicing with different recipes and one day cook a pork roast to the perfect tenderness and juiciness. But at least I got my first try out of the way!






















    Tomato Garlic Pork Loin Roast
    adapted from Living the Gourmet
    • 1.5 - 2 lb pork loin roast
    • 3 cloves of garlic
    • handful of fresh parsley
    • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes
    • 1/8 cup olive oil
    • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/4 cup chicken broth, + more for basting, if desired
    • 1 bay leaf
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Place the garlic, parsley, tomatoes, olive oil, and pepper in a food processor and pulse a few times to chop.

    Place the pork in a baking pan and top with the chopped tomato mixture. Add 1/4 cup chicken broth to the pan with the bay leaf and roast in the oven. Add more broth to the pan, basting pork, if desired.

    Bake about 25-30 minutes per pound, or until temperature reaches about 145-150 degrees. Let rest for 15 minutes, as pork will continue to cook to about 155-160 degrees.



    Printable Recipe

















    As you can see, we served this with some red potatoes. I think I would have preferred it with a brown coating from a quick sear. But I did skim over a few different pork loin recipes and none of them said to sear it first, so obviously I don't know what I'm talking about :) Everything about the coating sounds appealing... tomatoes, garlic, and herbs, so why didn't I like it as much as I feel I should have? Maybe it was the quality of the pork loin roast we bought. Or maybe the cooking time was off? Is 25-30 minutes per pound accurate? I'm not sure really. But I'm hopeful and will check out other pork loin roast recipes to see if those are more to my likings.

    Does anybody have any delicious pork loin roast recipes to share? How do you feel about pork roasts?

    Peace, and bacon grease!


    June 25, 2011

    Chicken Corn Chowder
















    Happy weekend! It can't come soon enough, can it? I'm back with another comforting meal. This soup, it's a keeper. I wasn't sure how we would feel about it, but it had so much flavor. I love the sweetness of the corn, the heartiness of the potatoes, the creaminess. And you guys already know how I feel about bacon. I don't think I even need to go there.

    I made a few changes to the original recipe. We didn't add the celery. I used 4 slices of center cut bacon. I used 4 small red potatoes instead of the canned kind called for in the recipe, and boiled them first for 20 minutes. And added some salt too to taste.




















    Chicken Corn Chowder
    Adapted from It's a Keeper
    • 4 slices center cut bacon, diced into 1 inch squares
    • 1/2 cup onion, diced
    • 4 cups frozen corn
    • 4 cups half and half
    • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
    • 1/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped
    • 4 small red potatoes
    • 1/2 tsp black pepper
    • 2 tbsp flour
    • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
    • salt, to taste
    In a large pot, bring cold water and a pinch of salt to a boil. Boil potatoes for 20 minutes or so. Remove and dice potatoes.

    Meanwhile, in a separate large pot, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon, drain the fat leaving 2 tbsp in the pot. Add chicken and cook over medium heat until no longer pink and cooked through. Add onion and bell pepper and saute for 2 minutes. Stir in flour. Cook for 1 minute. Stir in half and half. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

    Puree 2 cups of corn in a blender. Add to the pot. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally for 1 minute. Stir in pepper, potatoes, and remaining corn. Heat through. Stir in bacon. Serve immediately. Season with salt, to taste.
























    Linking up to: 

    This is the perfect autumn or winter comfort food to warm you up on a cool night. I'm not a fan of the cold winter by any means, but this soup makes winter a little more bearable. Disregard the fact that I am blogging about this in the middle of summer. I made it back when it was cold out. I would still make this any time during the year, though! It's THAT good.

    *Update: While I'm over here going on and on about how this is a fall/winter meal, my friend over at Scrambled Henfruit made me realize that this is just as much a summer meal as it is warming comfort meal. "Think of how good it will be with fresh summer sweet corn!", she commented. Oh Betty, you are so right. And thanks for giving me a perfect reason to make this in the summer  :)


    Come join SoupaPalooza at TidyMom and Dine and Dish sponsored by KitchenAid, Red Star Yeast, and Le Creuset!!!


    Peace, and bacon grease!

    June 21, 2011

    Cassie's BBQ Beef Shepherd's Pie

    You know the saying... "If it aint broke, don't fix it." Don't mess up a good thing. That's how I feel about Cassie's recipes. I pretty much want to try them all, and I usually don't have to make big, or in this case, ANY changes to them because her recipes are already spectacular as is. I like to tweak recipes a bit to make them more of my own... it makes me feel like I had some part in creating the recipe. But I find that I rarely have to do that with her recipes... it's like she's tailoring the recipe already for ME. But obviously not for me, we just have similar tastes in food I guess!

    I don't know about you guys, but when I was younger and used to think of shepherd's pie, I didn't have pleasant thoughts. It was kind of like meatloaf in my mind, just not something I wanted to try. But then again, many things turned me off as a child. I'm amazed at what I thought I didn't like. I'm so glad that my taste buds have flourished and I am able to enjoy more foods now which I never would have liked or tried as a child. If my waistline had a mind of its own, I'm sure it would disagree. It's the one suffering the bulging consequences, after all. But obviously, it doesn't have much say so when it comes to my eating habits. Hey, I like to eat.
     























    BBQ Beef Shepherd's Pie
    • 1 lb lean ground beef
    • 1 (11-oz) can whole kernel corn with red and green peppers
    • 1 (4 oz) can chopped green chiles, undrained
    • 1 cup barbeque sauce
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 1 1/2 lb baby red potatoes, unpeeled
    • Butter and milk, for mashing potatoes
    • 1/4 cup sliced green onions (about 4)
    • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
    • 1 tbsp ranch dressing 
    • 4 slices bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled
    Cook ground beef in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until beef is brown. Drain well. Stir in corn, chiles, and barbeque sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Heat to boiling, reduce heat to low to keep warm.

    Meanwhile, cook potatoes to fork tender in boiling water. Drain and mash to desired consistency with salt, pepper, butter, and milk. Stir in green onions, cheese, ranch, and bacon.

    Spoon beef mixture onto plate or bowl and top with mashed potatoes. Serve.


























    This recipe is a modern take on the classic shepherd's pie, with a few fixins and additions from Cassie. I love the addition of bbq sauce, corn, chiles, and ranch. I think all of those ingredients make this a comfort meal that we like to make often, and I bet you will too.

    Oh, and it has bacon. Did you guys know I like bacon?  :)

    Peace, and bacon grease!

    June 20, 2011

    Menu Planning - Week of 6/20/11

    Hey friends! I'm back from a great weekend, hoping to start off the week right with a delicious menu plan. I was trying to be healthier last week, but got sidetracked over the weekend when I splurged on martinis and mai tais, fried cheese wedges, and greasy breakfast food at Perkins on Saturday, and then gorged on delicious bbq for Father's Day. Yikes! Time to get some order back into my life with home-cooked meals, water, and exercise.

    Oh, and we made everything on the menu plan from last week except for those kabobs. Normally I would throw em on this week's plan, but the weather isn't looking too promising for the whole week so I don't want to plan on grilling out.

    Here's to another Monday!

    Monday 6/20/11:  mushroom and onion omelets

    Tuesday 6/21/11:   Bourbon Chicken with rice

    Wednesday 6/22/11:  Impossibly Easy Cheeseburger Pie (but I'm changing the name, I can't stand that name!) with Roasted Garlic Rosemary Potatoes

    Thursday 6/23/11:  leftovers or eat out

    Friday 6/24/11:  Chicken Alfredo Biscuit Casserole



    Linkup to up Menu Plan Monday....









    ... and Marvelous Menu!








    and here's to a fabulous, stress-free, and delicious week for all of us!

    Peace, and bacon grease!

    June 15, 2011

    Chicken Caesar Wraps

     





















    Do you guys like caesar salads? I do. For awhile there, they were my favorite salad. They may not be the healthiest salad option, but they are one of the tastiest. I was geeked to see this wrap version! Genius.

    And it doesn't require a lot of work, besides pre-cooking the chicken, chopping the croutons, and breaking up the lettuce. You may have to grate your cheese if you don't buy the already-grated kind. Still not very much work though, don't you agree?

    So first cook your chicken and then cut it up into cubes. Meanwhile, combine the dressing, cheese, garlic powder, and pepper in a large bowl. Then add that cooked chicken, the romaine, and chopped croutons. Mix it up....


















    .... then spread it evenly over each tortilla. I used regular white flour tortillas. The original recipe calls for whole wheat tortillas, which is obviously better for you. If you are healthier and stronger willed than I am, please use the whole wheat tortillas. Don't follow my bad example.






















    And I apologize for the slightly blurry photos. The food was still good though!

    Chicken Caesar Wraps
    slightly adapted from Taste of Home

    *  Yields 6 servings

    • 3/4 cup Caesar salad dressing
    • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
    • 3 cups cubed cooked chicken breast
    • 2 cups torn romaine
    • 3/4 cup Caesar salad croutons, coarsely chopped
    • 6 flour tortillas (8 inches)
    In a large bowl, combine the dressing, cheese, garlic powder, and pepper. Add the cooked chicken, romaine, and croutons. Spoon 2/3 cup of the chicken mixture down the center of each tortilla. Roll up.


    Printable Recipe


    I'm linking up to:
    Hearth N Soul Hop
    Tuesday Night Supper Club
    Tuesdays at the Table
    Tempt My Tummy Tuesday
    What's On Your Plate?
    Delectable Tuesday
    Dr. Laura's Tasty Tuesday
    Totally Tasty Tuesdays
    Tuesday's Tasty Tidbits
    Show Me What Ya Got
    What's Cooking Wednesday
    Recipes I Can't Wait to Try
    Whatcha Makin' Wednesdays
    What I Ate Wednesday
    Made it on Monday
    Whisking Wednesdays
    What's on the Menu Wednesday
    What I Whipped Up Wednesday
    Cast Party Wednesday
    Recipe Swap Thursday
    Tasty Tradition
    Full Plate Thursday
    Cooking Thursday
    Simple Lives Thursday
    Frugal Food Thursday
    It's a Keeper Thursday
    What's Cooking Thursday
    Twisted Thursday
    These Chicks Cooked Link Party
    Making It With Allie
    Foodie Friday @ Designs By Gollum
    Friday Potluck
    Food Trip Friday
    Friday Favorites
    Fat Camp Friday
     Fun With Food Friday
    Food on Fridays
    Food Friday
    Foodie Friday @ Little Brick Ranch
    Friday Food Fight
    Feasting in Fellowship Fridays

    This definitely qualifies as a weeknight, work night meal. Gotta love those. You could have dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes. Or it would even make for a perfect lunch. So if you're ever tired of the same old salad, try a wrap!


    Peace, and bacon grease!

    June 13, 2011

    Menu Planning - Week of 6/13/11

    From last week, we did make those lasagna roll-ups, and enjoyed them very much. They just needed more meat sauce, in our opinions! Next time we make it we will make some modifications. We also made those dijon-roasted potatoes, they were delish! We still didn't make that danged cajun chicken pasta. Whoops! Maybe this week? I'm putting it first thing on the menu today so hopefully that means it will actually get made! Fingers crossed  :)


    Monday 6/13/11:  Cajun Chicken Pasta - from cookbook


    Wednesday 6/15/11:  Baked Buffalo Chicken Pasta

    Thursday 6/16/11:  Elvis Burger

    Friday 6/17/11:  out to eat


    I am linking up to my usual:  Menu Plan Monday...










    .... and Marvelous Menu!










    Hope everyone's week is starting off great!


    Peace, and bacon grease!

    June 8, 2011

    The Versatile Blogger Award

    I'm so excited... Faith and Daisies has passed The Versatile Blogger Award on to me! I'm honored :) Check out her blog, I'm really eyeing her Cake Batter Ice Cream, and many more recipes.





















    To accept, I had to do the following:

    -Thank the person who gave it to me
    -Tell 7  5 things about myself
    -Send the award on to other bloggers I have recently found
    -Let those bloggers know they got the award

    So thanks again, Faith and Daisies! I really do appreciate you! Thanks for reading my blog, I'm honored that you find it award-worthy :)

    Now onto the 5 things about myself, noticed how I changed that from 7 to 5 .... not gonna lie, I am terrible at this kinda thing. I'm not very exciting, don't lead a very exciting life, so I have a hard time coming up with interesting info about myself, so bear with me!

    1. I am finally applying to go back to grad school to get my Masters in Counseling. 4 years after graduating, I hope I still have my studying skills and that professors still remember me!

    2. I love bacon. You probably knew that. 

    3. I am addicted to Pinterest. Come follow me!

    4. My email account recently got hacked, and I am feeling so naked! I can't see old emails I have saved, and have to set up newsletters to come to my new email and try to remember everything I was subscribed to, it's a lot of work! Plus, I was waiting on a response from an old professor and now it's lost in cyberworld. I want my email back, damn hackers! And no, I am not in Greece and in need of money! :)

    5. I have not read a single book yet this year, and my goal is to read 5 in 2011. I know, I know, that's not even a lot of books to some of you avid book readers! I love love love to read and collect books, I just never make time to read. I am usually watching tv instead, which isn't good. I have half the year left to accomplish this goal. I need to get on it!


    Real exciting stuff, huh? LOL. I'll try to come up with something better next time. Promise.

    Now I am passing this award on to some other blogs I've found recently. They may not necessarily be a new blog, just ones that I've been lucky enough to find recently. 



    Thanks for all the inspiration! All of you are amazing and have touched me in some way! Your blogs are awesome :) Feel free to grab the award and post it on your blog!

    And thanks again, Faith and Daisies, for seeing something in my little blog that you liked!

    Peace, and bacon grease!



    June 7, 2011

    Restaurant Bucket List

    I decided to finally make a list of all of the restaurants that I want to try in the Cincinnati area. I'll cross them off the list and add the link once I have finally gone to that restaurant and reviewed it. Oh, and I'm sure I'll be adding to the list as I hear of more restaurants out there waiting for me!


    10 West
    20 Brix
    Abigail Street (made Cincinnati magazine's top 10 list in 2013!)
    Alabama Fish Bar
    Ando Japanese Restaurant
    Aroma - review coming soon!

    Bangkok Terrace
    Bobby's Burger Palace
    Bouquet
    C'est Cheese Food Truck
    Cabana on the River
    Cafe de Wheels (food truck) - dive bar review coming soon!

    Celestial Restaurant
    Chart House
    Cloud Nine Sushi
    Crave
    Cumin (made Cincinnati magazine's top 10 list in 2013!)
    Dancing Wasabi - review coming soon!
    Dee Felice Cafe - have Groupon
    Dilly Cafe 
    Eli's BBQ (made Cincinnati magazine's top 10 list in 2013!)
    Final Cut Steakhouse (in Hollywood Casino)
    Fireside Pizza Wagon (food truck) 
    Fusian  - review coming soon!

    Green Papaya
    Honey
    Hugo - review coming soon!
    Ichiban Japanese Cuisine 
    Jack Binion's Steak
    Jean-Robert's Table (made Cincinnati magazine's top 10 list in 2013!)
    Jeff Ruby's Carlo & Johnny
    Jeff Ruby's Precinct - (went there a long time ago but need to review it)
    Jeff Ruby's Waterfront
    Jimmy G's 
    Kaze OTR
    La Petite France - review coming soon!
    La Poste
    Lavomatic Cafe 
    Lime - review coming soon!
    Lobsta Bakes of Maine
    Local 127
    M Wood Fired Oven
    Maki Express
    Mantra on the Hill
    Maribelle's Tavern - review coming soon!
    McCormick & Schmick's
    Mei Japanese Restaurant
    Meritage (Glendale)
    Metropole
    Moerlein Lager House - review coming soon!
    Morton's Steakhouse
    Mr. Gene's Dog House/Weenies on Wheels (food truck)
    Mt. Adams Bar & Grill
    New Orleans to Go (food truck) - review coming soon!
    Orchids at Palm Court
    Otto's - review coming soon!

    Palomino
    Parkers Blue Ash Tavern
    Quaker Steak and Lube - have Groupon  - review coming soon!
    Quan Hapa
    Rafferty's
    Red Sesame Food Truck
    Ruth's Chris Steakhouse 
    Saigon Cafe
    Sakura Japanese Steakhouse 
    Seasons 52
    Sebastian's 
    Senate (made Cincinnati magazine's top 10 list in 2013!)
    Senor Roys Taco Patrol (food truck)
    SmoQ - have Groupon
    Stone Creek Dining Company in West Chester
    Taco Azul (food truck)
    Taste of Belgium
    Terry's Turf Club
    The Anchor OTR 
    The Capital Grille
    The Palace - have Groupon - review coming soon!
    Trio Bistro - review coming soon!

    Turophilia Quesadillas (food truck)
    Via Vite (made Cincinnati magazine's top 10 list in 2013!)
    View Cucina
    Virgil's Cafe - review coming soon!
    Vitor's Bistro 
    Zula

    June 6, 2011

    Menu Planning - Week of 6/6/11

    Hope you all had a fantastic weekend, I sure did! We went kayaking, and I love it so much! Nothing beats beer, nature, and spending time with my man! 

    Now the weekend's over, and we're back to Monday. Ugh! I hate Mondays!

    But the good thing about Mondays is that I get to plan my menu plan for the week. Not gonna lie though, sometimes it is another burden to add to my already stress-filled and dragging Mondays. Not always, but sometimes. It's hard to find recipes based on what I already have, and I also try to check out the weather to see if we should grill out, while also trying to keep PJ's work schedule in mind. If I know he's gonna be working late on a certain day, I can pretty much plan to eat out or order pizza or something. Definitely no laborious cooking on nights that he gets home late. Trying to plan a menu around all of these factors can get complicated! That's why many times I don't end up making all of the recipes on my menu plan for a given week, because things come up or PJ has to work late and I didn't plan for it, etc etc.

    And we didn't make those lasagna roll ups, or the cajun chicken pasta last week, so what do you know... they're on this menu plan again! We did make those blt lettuce wraps, with some of our own modifications, and they were so good! I'll post about it one of these days.

    So here's me trying to make a menu plan we can actually commit to this week. We'll see how it goes :)


    Monday 6/6/11:  steak, and Dijon Roasted Potatoes (got some potatoes to use up)

    Tuesday 6/7/11:  Lasagna Roll-ups - from cookbook

    Wednesday 6/8/11:  eat out

    Thursday 6/9/11:  grill out, maybe some Grilled BBQ Pepper Jack Chicken

    Friday 6/10/11:  Cajun Chicken Pasta - from cookbook


    Linking up to Menu Plan Monday...











    And Marvelous Menu!








    Peace, and bacon grease!