Would you be so kind as to "like" my facebook page?

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

August 31, 2011

Don't Mind Me....

My site is probably going to look funny for the next day or two or five until I learn how to make it look how I want. I'm trying to add a photo header, as well as fix my background. I was hating the look of my blog. Everything is still accessible, it just looks funky lol. I hope this makes my blog easier to navigate and more appealing to the eye. 

I'd appreciate any feedback once it's done! Let me know if you likey or no likey :)

Oh, and if any of you know about formatting the layout of my blog using blogger's template designer, I'd be happy to take any advice. I used to have my blog under the setting 'picture window' but the sidebar tabs were hanging over and overlapping my background and it just isn't pretty. But now I'm having a difficult time changing the template to a different one, like 'simple', because it is changing the look of my background, fonts, sidebar, font inside my posts, etc. Do they have "Blogger-for-Dumbies" books?

Peace, and bacon grease!


August 29, 2011

Menu Planning - Week of 8/29/11

Did everyone have a fantastic weekend? I did - I spent mine shopping at the mall and Borders (oh, I can't believe you are closing!!!) and having dinner at O' Charley's with a friend for her birthday. And Sunday I caught up on some blogging, so you know that's always fun!!

If you've noticed, I recently just posted two more cookbook review recipes, and I am trying to continue to cook meals from that cookbook. So some of the meals on this week's menu plan are from that cookbook. Tonight's dinner is a quick simple dinner that's a go-to meal - baked chicken with sauteed mushrooms and onions, and Velveeta rotini. Gotta love some good old boxed pasta and processed cheese sauce for a quick side!


Monday 8/29/11:  Chicken, mushrooms, and onion with rotini

Tuesday 8/30/11:  Spicy Cheddar-Stuffed Burgers


Thursday 9/1/11:  Groupon date night

Friday 9/2/11:  Mexican Shrimp Bisque - from cookbook

Saturday 9/3/11:  Meatball Sub Sandwiches - from cookbook, with Ranch Macaroni and Cheese

Sunday 9/4/11:  Alfredo Chicken Lasagna - from cookbook



Let's make it a good week.

Peace, and bacon grease!

Help?!

Does anyone know how to make one's header photo smaller? I finally made a collage photo in Picnik, but when I added it to my header, it looks so large and way bigger than I want or intended! I've seen collages on other blogs, and they are all normal sized photos in the header. As you can see, if you look above, my header photo is ginormous! And sooo not cool. That's not how it's supposed to look! Please help me (in my sad, puppy dog face and baby voice).

Do any of you guys have any suggestions how to make the collage photo smaller? Also, I know Blogger offers the option to add the header text behind the photo, on top of, or instead of (I think)... is this the option I should use when trying to add the text "SteakNPotatoesKindaGurl: My Culinary Adventure: Recipes and Reviews from a Newbie Foodie". Or should I create the text while I am editing the photo, and save the text into the actual photo?

I'd appreciate any help I can get from you computer whizzes! I know Blogger is supposed to be user friendly, so why am I having so much difficulty? I feel like an old, computer-illiterate lady! :) Help!!!!!

Peace, and bacon grease!


August 28, 2011

Cookbook Review: Macaroni 'n' Cheese for Two

I'm back with another recipe from Taste of Home's Down Home Cooking for One or Two cookbook: Macaroni 'n' Cheese for Two. I'm a huge mac and cheese fan, so when I was searching through the cookbook and saw this homemade mac and cheese recipe, I knew I had to make it. 

The only change we made was to add more cheese - 1 and 1/4 cup instead of 1 cup. I used a loaf pan, but the original recipe says to use a 2 and 1/2 cup baking dish. I figured my small loaf pan was the closest pan I had to that.































Macaroni 'n' Cheese for Two
slightly adapted from Taste of Home's Down Home Cooking for One or Two

* Yields: 2 servings
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
  • dash of paprika
In a bowl, combine sour cream and milk. Stir in the cheese, macaroni, and onion. Transfer to a greased baking dish; sprinkle with paprika. Cover and bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes.

Printable Recipe
 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 forks 

I'm adding this to Miranda's Mac and Cheese Quest!

I'm glad that we did make it! The recipe was simple enough, and though not the best mac and cheese I've ever had, it stood its ground! We liked the extra crunch from the onions, and the creaminess from the sour cream. This will definitely stay in our rotation, until we find the next best macaroni and cheese recipe, that is :)

Peace, and bacon grease!



Cookbook Review: Bart's Black Bean Soup for Two from Taste of Home Down Home Cooking for One or Two

























I'm really trying to use my cookbooks more, since I have shelves and shelves filled with them. But I usually find most of my recipes from the internet... professional websites and food blogs, and tend to neglect my cookbook stash. So I'm trying to change that! The first cookbook I decided to test recipes from was Taste of Home's Down Home Cooking for One or Two, and I already told you about the Chili for Two that we made from that cookbook. Well here's the second recipe from there... Bart's Black Bean Soup for Two.

Fall is quickly approaching, and I've got a comforting soup recipe for you. While we weren't exactly blown away by this soup, it was decent for a quick, meatless meal. PJ thought it reminded him too much of a ninja stew his dad used to make him growing up. Since he wasn't really impressed, we probably won't be making this again.


 






















Bart's Black Bean Soup for Two
adapted from Taste of Home's Down Home Cooking for One or Two

* Yields 4 servings
  • 1.5 cups black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1.5 cup chicken stock
  • 2/3 cup salsa
  • 1/2 cup whole kernel corn, drained
  • 2 dashes of hot sauce
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 tbsp chopped green onions
  • sour cream, optional
In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the first 5 ingredients. Cover and microwave on high for 2 minutes, then stir and heat 2 more minutes, then stir and heat for another minute. Pour into two serving bowls. Drizzle each with lime juice. Sprinkle with cheese and green onions. Top with a dollop of sour cream, if desired.

Printable Recipe


Rating: 2 out of 5 forks













You can definitely spruce it up with some sliced avocado, because avocado makes everything better. And don't forget to top it with some sour cream, because sour cream makes everything better too :) I hope you like it more than we did!


Peace, and bacon grease!



August 23, 2011

Restaurant Review : The Quarter Bistro in Mariemont

Never before had I been to the adorable, small town of Mariemont, until we ventured over to a restaurant called The Quarter Bistro since I had a half off deal. We loved the neighborhood; it seemed like a great place to live. The restaurant is located adjacent to the Mariemont Theater. This is what we saw when we pulled up...

{source}


















We dined here on our 11 year anniversary this past May, and I was sick. Boo!!! But that wasn't gonna stop me from enjoying a perfect anniversary night with my man.

You actually have to enter the theater to use the restroom, it was a bit odd having to do that, I'll admit. They have outdoor tables out front which are covered by umbrellas, but we chose to dine inside. The inside is very red. Like maybe a little too much red....  red seats and red walls everywhere! But still very elegant at the same time. They are going for the warm, inviting feel, but it is just a bit much for me. The dining area is very open, like one big open room. I didn't particularly like the seating... which was half booth half table, with a huge mirror behind the booths. I always hate that kind of seating, where PJ is sitting in the booth and there is a small table in between us and then I am sitting in a chair. I'd much rather be fully in a booth, or fully at a table. There wasn't much personal space and it felt like we were a little too close to the table next to us. It does feel like everyone is somewhat piled around each other. We were right behind a big table of people that were quite loud, and we felt like we could hear everything they were saying! I like to have a little more privacy when having our little date nights, so I'll admit it was a little uncomfortable. But the food did make up for that.

For an appetizer, we ordered the Lobster Mac and Cheese, which their menu describes as "cavatappi pasta, bechamel sauce, a blend of cheese, and panko bread crumbs." Um, yes please! It tasted rich and delicious, and I loved the panko topping, though I wouldn't have complained if there was more lobster in it. I also really liked that they used cavatappi pasta. It was a shame I had to share some with PJ! :)

























For the main course, PJ ordered the Short Rib Tacos, which came with three and was served with a side of guac. He enjoyed them. I need to start getting more of a precise review from PJ regarding his entree dishes. I always seem to just say something like, "he liked it" or "he thought it was pretty good", but never enough details unless I try a bite or two for myself. I'll try to next time. I also am gonna start taking note of the price of each menu item that I order. I'm learning :) Sorry these next two pics are bad.


















I ordered the Blackened Tournedoes, because I love my steak. They were served with pancetta redskin potatoes and creamed spinach, in a beurre blanc sauce. You guys know I love my sauces. I could have done without the creamed spinach, as it didn't add much to the dish, but it wasn't bad... it just wasn't necessary. The potatoes were nice and I loved the addition of the salty, crunchy pancetta. The two steak tournedoes were cooked perfectly and overall it was a great dish.



















The only other downside was that they don't serve Dr. Pepper, which is PJ and my favorite pop, and the waitress wasn't very knowledgeable and didn't keep up with our refills very well. Again, the food made up for that!

They only serve dinner, not lunch or breakfast, and their wine selection at the bar seemed vast, though we didn't order any alcoholic beverages that night.  So book a reservation for your next special dinner occasion at the charming Quarter Bistro and then maybe hit up a movie after at the Mariemont Theater. It's a perfect date night.


Peace, and bacon grease!







Quarter Bistro on Urbanspoon

August 22, 2011

Menu Planning - Week of 8/22/11

Sorry I skipped the menu plan last week (did you even notice?), but I was in the middle of writing it and I got very sick, and stayed sick for at least 3 days, so I never got around to finishing my menu plan for the week! Bummer. But I'm back in business.

This week's menu plan is gonna have to be a little different, tailored towards my poor fiancee's inability to eat anything besides soup and omelets really. He had 4 wisdom teeth pulled and wants to avoid getting any food stuck in there that could cause dry socket, or just cause pain while eating! Hmm.... that means it's gonna be all about the soup this week. Some of these soup recipes are obviously gonna have chunks of food in them, so he will try to eat them and if not then he'll just enjoy the liquid part.



Tuesday 8/23/11:  Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Wednesday 8/24/11:   Cream of Mushroom Soup

Thursday 8/25/11:  French Onion Soup

Friday 8/26/11:  Baked Potato Soup

Saturday 8/27/11:  Zuppa Toscana 

Sunday 8/28/11:  Fresh Corn Chowder




Here's to a week filled with soups :) And I'm not complaining!

 
Peace, and bacon grease!


August's Secret Recipe Club Reveal - Chocolate Chip Pecan Blondies

















I'm back for a second time with the Secret Recipe Club, and I'm so happy to be. It is such a fun group of food bloggers who are assigned a secret blog from which to make a recipe, and then blog about it! It really has become such an exciting part of my blogging experience... following a new blog and drooling over all of their recipes and deciphering which one to make. All while keeping it a secret. 

For the month of August, I was assigned the blog Barefeet in the Kitchen, which was great because I was new to the blog. It has been a pleasure getting to know Mary through her blog and recipes. I love the name of her blog, and the idea that her boys are in the kitchen [barefeet] with her, spending quality time together. I hope to have that with my children one day (when I have some!), to be able to share my love of cooking with them, and to use it as a way to bond and spend time together, as well as teach them lessons. I was also very intrigued by her "dehydration" section on her blog; she has dehydrated many fruits and veggies, some successes and others failures, and she is one creative woman! While I was tempted to try my own hand at dehydrating, that is not what I chose to make from her blog. She only started her blog in May, but she already has a vast array of recipes for me to choose from! After longing over many savory recipes like her adorable Caprese Skewers, fancy Mushroom Risotto, and Grilled Chicken and Bacon Sandwich, I finally decided to target dessert recipes, since I need more desserts on my blog and more practice with baking in general. But oh what to make?! I was longing to make those Almond Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies, or some Oatmeal Butterscotch Bars, and I will one day! But since I had all of the ingredients already in my pantry, her Chocolate Chip Blondies won out.

























I decided to make a few changes to make the recipe more suitable for us. We had pecans on hand already, so we used those instead of walnuts. Also, since PJ doesn't like nuts as much as I do, I halved the amount of pecans to make them more to his liking. We also cut down on the vanilla, but I'm sure if you used the whole amount that they would be just as good.


























These blondies were tasty, and even better for me the next day. I would definitely do the entire amount of nuts next time. I loved the addition, and the extra crunchiness it gave the sweet blondies. PJ also acknowledged that he liked the nuts and would have liked more. I was shocked! So definitely keep the original amount of nuts called for in Mary's original recipe. The recipe below uses the whole amount of nuts, since that's the way I think it should be made.

























MMM I'm thinking about these bars right now, drooling at my computer screen as I'm writing this, thinking how I can't wait to make these again.


These blondies have me thinking that the old saying that "blonds have more fun" could really be true. {Cheesy, I know, but I had to}

















Chocolate Chip Pecan Blondies
adapted from Barefeet in the Kitchen

      dry ingredients:
  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
      wet ingredients:
  • 10 tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

  • 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup of chopped pecans 

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking pan with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and light brown sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla to the butter and brown sugar mixture. Then add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Next add in the chocolate chips and chopped pecans and fold everything together until mixed well. 


    Pour batter into the well-greased dish and bake for 25-27 minutes, until slightly browned along the edges and a brownie consistency in the center. Cool them in the pan and then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling before storing them in an airtight container.


    Serve warm or at room temperature. Serve with whipped cream, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if desired.


    Printable Recipe


























    I preferred them the next day, at room temperature and allowed time to harden a bit and set. PJ, on the other hand, said he would really like them heated up in the microwave. I'd say that could be a good idea too, if you prefer. Top it with a dollop or two of whipped cream, or a nice big scoop of vanilla ice cream, and you've got a perfect summer treat.

























    This would also be a perfect dessert to take to a party or company potluck, as you can cut them into squares and serve individually, and they store easily. So if you want to be good and have some will power not to eat them all, then pack some up and take some in to your coworkers or spouse's coworkers. They'll certainly thank you and think you are all sorts of amazing.

    Thanks for such a great recipe, Mary! It's been fun getting to know you secretly :)


    Peace, and bacon grease!





    August 19, 2011

    Restaurant Review : The Polo Grille in Mason

    We dined at The Polo Grille in Mason, Ohio this past Valentine's Day, since I had a $50 LivingSocial deal. We weren't exactly sure if it would be "romantic" enough, and wondered if we were in for more of a bar date night. We were pleasantly surprised when we arrived to a beautiful upscale yet casual restaurant. I loved the decor. We were greeted by a hostess and seated immediately.

    It wasn't very packed though it was Valentine's Day, and we were surprised and happy about it. No one likes to battle the long waits at restaurants on busy holidays. We started out with the Spanish "Scotch" Egg as an appetizer, which is a regular on their menu. I had tried a Scottish egg once before when a coworker made one at a lunch cookout. I was hooked ever since. I mean, it's pretty genius if you ask me.... a hard boiled egg surrounded by sausage? Yum! So I talked PJ into ordering it. I have to admit, I liked my coworker's Scottish egg better. The chorizo was just a little too crispy on the one from the restaurant. PJ enjoyed it, and I did as well, just not as much as one I'd had in the past. Boy, did that thing come out beautifully presented though, on a bed of tomato salsa and drizzled with a pretty white aioli of some kind.  (Sorry for all of the blurry pics!) 


     
















    We also ordered the house-made soup of the day, which was the Crab Bisque. It was so creamy, and it melted in my mouth. We both loved the bisque and would definitely order it again, which is an option as they make it with some regularity due to its popularity. Again, the only complaint is that I wish I had a bigger bowl of that creamy goodness!
















    I'll take about 3 of those lil cups  :)

    They were offering some special Valentine's Day menu items, such as the "Seafood Cioppino" and "Boeuf Bourguignon", both tempting indeed. I wanted to order the Boeuf Bourguignon but they were sold out, unfortunately. So I opted for the Double Filet of Beef which was served with a plump potato cake, gorgonzola cream, and scallions. The cream was delicious and I wished there was more! The potato cake was pretty good but my steak and gorgonzola cream were the stars of the dish.



















    PJ ordered, and I quote him, "THE best burger ever":  that would be their Kobe Beef Burger, another regular fixture on their menu. It was a 7 oz. patty with "soy-glazed shiitake mushrooms, caramelized onions, and havarti cheese" on a brioche bun. He even tried a Kobe Beef Burger at Eddie Merlots, (we LOVE that place!), which is a more expensive restaurant, and he swears that the one from The Polo Grille blows it outta the water and is the best burger he's ever tasted. I tried a bite (just a bite, cuz that's all he'd let me have lol! jk) and it was a delicious burger! PJ has been begging for us to go back solely for the Kobe Beef Burger. I just wished we didn't live so far away!



    I just had to point out one minor detail that bugged me a bit. I hate typos on menus. I noticed a typo on theirs... they misspelled the word "shrimp". Sorry, that's the grammar/spelling witch in me. I wonder if they have noticed that since we dined there?



















    Also, we were seated immediately, but I think the waitress forgot about us for a bit because it took awhile for her to take our order. Eventually a manager came by and apologized for our wait, even though we hadn't complained and didn't plan on it because we were just enjoying each other's company. We liked that they at least noticed that they had kept us waiting for a bit, which we didn't even really mind! She was a very nice woman and we could tell she worked hard to please her customers, especially on a special night! So though we did have to wait a bit for our order to be taken, we loved the service and friendly atmosphere. Oh, and they comped our app since we had to wait. Can't complain, can't complain.

    We really enjoyed our Valentine's Day at The Polo Grille and definitely will go back. Though it is a good 40 minute drive or so for us, I can't deprive PJ of anything that he refers to as "the best". It's just not right. I like to keep my man happy! So we will definitely be back for that memorable burger, I'm sure some crab bisque, and hopefully to try something different and maybe some alcohol during their Happy Hour!

    Peace, and bacon grease!





    Polo Grille on Urbanspoon

    August 16, 2011

    M.I.A.

    Have you missed me? Sorry, friends! I realize I haven't been blogging in the past week! Time has gotten away from me, and I was finally set to do my usual menu plan post on Monday, as well as a recipe post, and I got sick. I've been very sick for the past 2 days, but I promise to stop ignoring this precious blog soon. I'm finally starting to feel a bit better. I've got plenty of recipe posts to write up and pictures to edit. Stay tuned :)

    Peace, and bacon grease!


    August 8, 2011

    Menu Planning - Week of 8/8/11

    It's Monday, friends. You know the deal.


    Monday 8/8/11:  leftover Buffalo Chicken Wraps

    Tuesday 8/9/11:  PJ works late, eat out


    Thursday 8/11/11:  PJ works late, eat out

    Friday 8/12/11:  Mexican lasagna

    Saturday 8/13/11:  Kicked-Up Shrimp Fried Rice

    Sunday 8/14/11:  Marinated Steaks with Gouda Twice-Baked Potatoes



    Keepin it short today. Let's eat some tasty meals this week, mmmk? Deal?

    Oh, and how about you guys go see Planet of the Apes? Because it was pretty amazing :)


    Peace, and bacon grease!



    Sloppy Joe Squares

    I've got a great recipe for you, and it's not difficult at all! Don't you love those kind? I sure do, especially on week nights. This recipe is a bit time-consuming, but doesn't require much effort to make. And the parts that take the most time - simmering and baking - are steps that don't require you to stand there and babysit it so you can go about your business and get other things done.

























    Yep, it's a sloppy joe.... in square form. I love this idea of turning sloppy joes into a casserole. You can skip the usual buns because the rolls on top make the 'buns' in this dish.

























    We made some changes to the original recipe, such as upping the onion amount, cuz we are onion folk. We added minced garlic, cuz, well, garlic makes everything better. We also didn't have any brown sugar so we just substituted Sweet Baby Ray's honey bbq sauce. And we also didn't have red wine vinegar so we used apple cider vinegar instead. The mixture, while cooking in the skillet, was a bit too liquidy since we used bbq sauce, so you may want to stick to the original ingredient and use the brown sugar instead of the bbq sauce (or cut back on the water). Since we didn't like how liquidy it turned out before simmering, I've kept the original ingredient of brown sugar in the recipe below. Top those bad boys with some shredded cheese and a dollop of sour cream, and you're good to go.

    Sloppy Joe Squares
    adapted from Life as a Lofthouse
    • 1 tbsp butter
    • 1/3 cup chopped onions
    • 1 lb ground beef
    • 1 garlic clove, minced
    • 1 cup ketchup
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 1/4 cup brown sugar
    • 2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
    • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
    • 2 tsp chili powder
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 cans of Pillsbury Big & Butter crescent rolls
    • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese + more for garnish
    • sour cream, optional
    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, melt the butter and then add in the chopped onions and garlic and cook until soft. Add the beef and cook until browned. Drain the grease.

    Add the remaining ingredients and stir well. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, uncovered. In a 9x13 ungreased baking pan, roll out the first roll of crescent roll dough. Press into the bottom to completely cover and also press 1/2 inch up on the sides. Pour the hot sloppy joe mixture on top and spread evenly over dough. Sprinkle 2 cups of cheese evenly over the mixture, and then cover with the other roll of dough. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before eating.






















    We enjoyed this twist on sloppy joes. It was a nice way to spruce up the old tried and true sloppy joe recipe. If you want the more traditional sloppy joe, then check out this recipe!


    Peace, and bacon grease!

    August 2, 2011

    Menu Planning - Week of 8/1/11

    Wake up, wake up, wake up it's the first of the month! (well, yesterday it was...)

    And a Monday, for that matter (again, yesterday). Yall know what that means... menu planning time!

    (ok it was Monday when I started writing this post, but time got the best of me and I didn't get around to posting this until Tuesday. Sorry!)


    Monday 8/1/11:  Oven Barbequed Chicken with leftover mac and cheese and salad

    Tuesday 8/2/11:  Zuppa Toscana with garlic bread


    Thursday 8/4/11:  out to eat, use one of my Groupons

    Friday 8/5/11:  Kicked-Up Shrimp Fried Rice

    Saturday 8/6/11:  shopping and dinner with my bestie, Marcey

    Sunday 8/7/11:  Grilled Chicken with White Barbeque Sauce  and corn on the cob


    I'm excited for this week in food. I've got some yummy recipes to try! I've been loving all of these new recipes I've been trying, and so has PJ. He loves them so much that he asks why I never make them a second time. I tell him it's because there are sooooo many other wonderful recipes out there that I've discovered and must make, there's no time to make the same thing again! lol but I do when we are pressed for time and don't want to bother with making a new recipe. But for the most part I look forward to trying something new each night and not having the same old same old.

    So what's on the menu this week, friends?

    Peace, and bacon grease!