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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

July 26, 2012

About Me {I Should Have Done This A LONNNNNG Time Ago!}

Why hello there!

Welcome to my blog, and thanks for reading and caring what I have to say. I appreciate you taking the time to check out my little corner of the blog world. Hope you like what you see!

My name's Desiree (you can call me Desi or Des for short) and I am a 28 year old girl, born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. I'm currently working towards my Masters degree in community counseling at Xavier University, where I also went for my undergrad. I'm loyal like that :)





















I am engaged to my wonderful fiancee, PJ, whom I have been dating for 13 years - yep, we're high school sweethearts. See? Loyal, I told ya. You'll be hearing about him all the time I'm sure. He is always a part of my cooking endeavors.















Pictures like this happen a lot with us. Closed eyes, blurry, or eyes wide open  :) And no, we really aren't wine drinkers. This was a rare occasion.
















We bought our first house a few years back and I am still trying to make it into a home. I'm not really the crafty, decorating type, but I want to be, so I love catching up on all kinds of crafty home blogs. And fashion blogs. But mainly food blogs of course!!

I started this blog originally to review new restaurants that I wanted to try. Then I came across this blog one day and fell in love. I knew that I had to be doing that too. So then I started cooking more and adding those recipes to the blog. So that is what this blog focuses on...  recipes and restaurant reviews, with a little randomness from me here and there.

I also enjoy writing stories and poetry. You can check out my poetry blog where I share a little bit of my own poetry as well as others I like.

A few words to describe me....  I'm indecisive, messy, a night owl, emotional, guarded at times, an introvert, shy, impatient, stubborn, sarcastic, and pessimistic at times, yet loyal, detailed, empathic, silly, intelligent, hard working, friendly, humble, mature yet a kid at heart, open-minded, and thoughtful.


Things I like:
    the color pink
    elephants
    monkeys
    reality tv
    Parenthood (I cry on every episode!!!)
    Monday Mornings
    The Walking Dead
    Bachelor and Bachelorette .... yes I just listed 4 shows, and reality tv, and dvr
    DVR - I can't imagine a world without it now
    scarves
    books
    bookstores
    cookbooks
    school (nerd alert!)
    celebrity gossip magazines
    grilling out
    lists and crossing things off them
    making up my own words
    collecting sunglasses
    babies
    kayaking
    Aaliyah
    margaritas
    Bud Lite Lime
    UFC
    Pro football + The Bengals (Who Dey!)
    blogging
    Dr. Pepper
    bacon
    breakfast food
    steak n potatoes  :)

Things I dislike:
    cleaning
    racist people
    arrogant people 
    being on time (if you know me, you know this all too well, and I'm sorry!)
    public speaking
    bugs
    snakes
    exercising
    the dentist
    things that replace books (Kindle, E-Readers)
    bad customer service
    slow drivers (ok I don't dislike you, actually. My fiancee is one of them, so obviously I like him.  I like you and all, I just may cuss you out on the road if you are driving too slow for my likings. We can still be friends though.)


Now on to the important people in my life. I've already told you about PJ, my #1 and also my main taste tester.

















Also my Mama, whose good ole Southern cooking has influenced me deeply. Love that woman, she's pretty amazing. I would do anything for her, she deserves the world!

















My brother Jr is very important to me and we are pretty close, even though we are 15 years apart. I like to take some of my treats over to him and he's always thankful.

















I also get to dote on my niece Kalyn, who is about to turn 19 this year. I can't believe that I can remember when she was born! Aka I'm getting old.













I love my Daddy too, of course. He likes to supply me with goodies from his garden. He doesn't like his picture taken though so...


PJ's mother, Amy,  (my future mother-in-law) is so supportive of my blog and just the sweetest lady ever! She can cook some good food, too.















And of course my bestie, Marcey. We have so much fun shopping, checking out bookstores, eating, and enjoying some alcoholic beverages together.

















I'm sure you'll be hearing about some other great friends and family too but these are the main ones in my life that I tend to talk about on the regular.

Well, that's just a little bit about me. I hope you'll subscribe to my posts so you can get to know me a little better, and never miss a recipe  :)


So glad you're here!


July 25, 2012

Some Stuff

Hi there.

Did you guys notice anything different? Yep, I put up a new header and navbar. I'm enjoying it better and liking not having to see my giant face everytime I come to my blog lol. I'll just move that photo to the 'about me' section I'm drafting up (late, I know!). You can click on the words on the navbar to get to that link. I hope you guys enjoy the newer look.

Oh, now on to the real reason that drove me to post this tonight... 

I messed up and accidentally deleted some photos from my Picasa web album, cuz a message popped up telling me I had reached my photo limit and that everytime I uploaded a photo to Blogger, it saved it in Picasa web album... or something like that which I wasn't aware of. So I never knew I had this photo storage limit! The worst part is that I accidentally pressed the delete button too soon before I read the part about it deleting the photos from my blog too. And when I realized that is what it said it was too late. I've googled and everything pretty much says that I'm out of luck and will have to re-upload all the photos myself, if I even have them! Um, I already know I don't have all of them.

I may be screwed.

So if you're looking at some posts and the photos aren't there, I'm working to re-upload them. This could take awhile, depending on how many were deleted. I'm guessing I have to go into each post and see if the photos are there or not. If anyone knows an easier, better solution... please, do tell!

And for the ones where I don't have the photos anymore because they were on my old computer and so long ago, I guess I'll just have to leave them be, or delete them altogether if they aren't even worth it. Maybe I can go dig up some old memory cards.

Does anyone have any advice with this or has it happened to any of you? And what would be the best solution for the future? 

Anyone? Anyone?  :)

Update: Ok I found many of the photos on very old memory cards at least. Good thing I save em! But there are some that I still don't see. It's looking better than I thought and could be much worse, right? I've got the sidebar back to normal, and some of the older posts but still have like a month and a half worth of posts to update again. Boy are those old photos rough! It's funny to go back and see the photos I took before. 

But if anyone does still have any advice on an easier way to do this, let me know. Thanks!

Night night.

Peace, and bacon grease!





Book Review: The Widow's Season by Laura Brodie

I've decided I'm starting a new series on my blog where I review books. One of my resolutions for the year is to read at least 5 books. I know, big whoop. But as much as I adore reading, it's hard for me to find time to do it. But it's totally doable. I borrowed the idea to review the books I read from Stephanie over at Confessions of a City Eater, except that she has the goal of reading 52 books in a year! Wowza! I WISH! I also love the idea of having a written journal of all of my thoughts and maybe even quotes I love from certain books. There are so many books I've loved in the past that I wish I remembered to a tee, or was able to look back and remember how exactly I felt about them while reading. So I'm doing it!



I actually read this book for the 2011 challenge, so I'm a tad late posting this. It is called The Widow's Season by Laura Brodie. I know what you're thinking, depressing choice, right? I agree. But ever since I found Vee's blog, I've been interested in widows' stories. How they go on with their lives, how they cope with the everyday life, how, how, how. As I was reading this book, I just kept thinking about Vee and her story, her actual "novel" that was her new reality. I just kept thinking, this is a fiction book, but that is Vee's actual life. I think that makes a great book... when it can touch you and feel so much like real life that it scares you. That if the events of the book were to actually take place, you wouldn't know how to cope. That's how I feel when I read Vee's blog. I wouldn't know how to do it. I wouldn't know how to be strong, like she is. 

Except that the book is fiction, and Vee's story is not. 

Please take a moment to stop by Vee's blog and read her story, about the loss of her husband while she was pregnant, and then her brother not too long after, and about her life, and her strength to get through each day. Vee in her own right is a beautiful writer, her words always touch me so much, that I can't even try to put it into words. Every post is soul wrenching, beautiful, painful, brilliant, eloquent, and honest all at once. She has a way of bringing every visual to life, whether we want to envision it or not. And I think it's beautiful that she allows us into her thoughts. She is strong, she is beautiful. She is one of my heros, and I don't even know her. I'm forever touched by that girl.

Well, this book ended up being nothing like I imagined. Not a bereavement guide for widows, simply a captivating fictional piece of work. In the novel, Sarah lost her husband David in a kayaking accident. The body was never found, and though they had a memorial service for him, she never fully had closure since they never buried his body. She kept seeing him everywhere... in the grocery store, in her house, in the mirrors, outside her window or door. I imagine that is how I would feel if this happened to me. Especially if they never found the body. I would always be yearning and hoping he would show up. That he would have just been lost for a long time, but finally found. Finally home.

The beginning had me emotional and doing some inner soul searching. You would think I wouldn't want to read books like these, because I am an emotional person who is easily brought to tears. But I like to think about how special and important my fiancee is in my life. I like to remember it always, and books like this and stories like Vee's make me cherish every single moment I have with him. I cherish the love he gives me, because I know how it could be taken from me. And I never want that. Ever. They say you don't know what you have until it's gone... well, I don't want to ever have to know that. I want to know what I have before it's gone, and adore it every waking moment of my life.

Now I don't want to give away too much of the plot, in case anyone decides to read it. Let's just say that it became less "heartbreaking" as the story went on. This book that I originally thought would have me crying tears of sadness really wasn't meant to be a sad book after all. If you were turned off by the thought of this being a gut-wrenching grief-filled novel, don't be. It's really not like that at all. If you like suspenseful fictional novels with a touch of love, drama, and mystery, you will like this book. I could have done without some of the plot (such as a predictable affair), but I didn't want to put the book down so that's a good thing.

Overrall, I enjoyed the book thoroughly. Especially the ending, which I think I fully understand. This book will keep you guessing all along... is he a ghost, is he real, is it all a huge dream? I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good fiction novel, but not to someone who is looking to this book for some guidance on handling widowdom. 


4 of 5 stars false


Stay tuned for more book reviews. And make your own reading challenge goal here!


Peace, and bacon grease!


Cross That Off The Bucket List! {Get a photo accepted on Tastespotting}

Yay, it happened!

Tastespotting finally gave in and accepted one of my photos!





















This was a goal of mine on my blog bucket list. I have tried to submit other photos since, but only that one got accepted. I'll take it though.

I am now proudly displaying their badge on my sidebar. Hopefully I will be able to add more submissions to that gallery.

Now, if the folks at Foodgawker and Dessert Stalking could only be so kind...


Peace, and bacon grease!




July 23, 2012

July's Secret Recipe Club - Homemade Twix Bars

Happy Monday to you!

First things first.... shameless plug! I just started a facebook page and would love for you to come like it :) You can click on the link above or click on the icon in my sidebar to the right.

It's time for this month's Secret Recipe Club.

I was assigned to Chris's blog Mele Cotte, which I learned means "baked apple" in Italian. She has an array of recipes that anyone would want to try! How about some Marinated Mushrooms, or Lemon Buttermilk Pound Cake? So many sounded delish but I decided on her Homemade Twix Bars

























Cuz I don't even think it is possible for me to pass up chocolate and caramel.

I did put mine in the freezer to get them nice and firm, more like a Twix bar. Then I stored them in the fridge so they would stay firm. At room temperature, they get softer. But they were good that way too! I just prefer mine firm from the fridge  :)


Homemade Twix Bars
ever so slightly adapted from Mele Cotte

Shortbread Base
  • 1 and 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup castor (fine) sugar (or pulse granulated sugar in a food processor, then measure)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
Caramel Filling
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark corn syrup
  • 14- oz. can sweetened condensed milk
Chocolate Topping 
  • 11.5 oz milk chocolate

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray and line the bottom of an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper.

For shortbread, combine flour, softened butter, sugar, and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl. Beat for 1 minute on medium speed until the batter starts to come together. Do not overbeat. While together but still crumbly, transfer dough to the prepared pan and press evenly and firmly to make the base. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden.

Meanwhile, make the caramel filling. Place the butter, sugar, dark corn syrup, and condensed milk in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir frequently. Once the sugar dissolves, increase heat and bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat back to medium-low heat. Cook, stirring frequently, for 8-10 minutes until the mixture becomes thick and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Pour over the baked shortbread base and let cool for 15-30 minutes. Place in the refrigerator to cool and firm completely. Once firm, melt the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl until melted, stirring frequently. Cool slightly. Pour over the caramel and spread, creating an even layer. 

Chill to set. Cut into desired bars.  Store in an airtight container for up to a week. Makes about 16, 4-inch sticks.


These bars weren't difficult to make at all. Make a golden shortbread base, cover it with a sweet caramel filling, and top it off with some chocolate... reminiscent of a Twix candy bar. Except homemade is always better. 

And you can give them away to people to show them you care. Chocolate and caramel do that, ya know  :)


Linking up here.

Peace, and bacon grease!


SteakNPotatoesKindaGurl is on Facebook!! ... Finally!


I finally started a facebook page for my blog! Late, I know. This was on my bloggy bucket list so I'm feeling accomplished to have done it. 

With the help of Ashton, I even was able to create my own social media buttons! You will see the icon for them in the side bar to the right. It looks like this.










I am going to keep working on making the sidebar image larger to fit my sidebar better so it looks better too.

Click on each icon in the sidebar to follow me on facebook, pinterest, by email, or rss.

Now, if you could go on and help a sista out, I'd love for you to like my facebook page. Trying to build it up and I've got a long ways to go. But with your help I know it can be done!


And thanks for reading and supporting my blog. This girl so appreciates it.


Peace, and bacon grease!


July 20, 2012

Restaurant Review: The Summit Restaurant at Cincinnati State

You guys know I love deals, right? That's how we dine out!

Awhile back I purchased a half off deal to The Summit Restaurant at the Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State. They serve dinner every Thursday evening through Saturday evening. I was intrigued because I have such an interest in the culinary world and would love to go back and get my degree in it... hmm, I'll have to keep Cincinnati State in mind for that.

We entered the one floor restaurant inside Cincinnati State. To your left is the bar area, and to the right is the dining seating area. We headed to the right.

 


















Sorry for the blurry shot but here is a little look at the dining area. Blue walls. Large tables... no booths from what I could tell.

 















A distant shot of the bar area.



Let's start with a margarita ($8), eh? I loved my margarita but when don't I? It was a bit small though. See tiny glass below? Sometimes I can get margaritas in a bigger glass for the same price. I'd like to know what those little green specks of herbs or spices were so I can make my homemade margaritas like that.

























Dr. Peppers were only $1 each but didn't taste very good because they were watered down. The complimentary sourdough bread was served with a sweet butter... I don't like sourdough but I liked the butter. They didn't bring the bread though until well into our meal. What's that about? 

The students themselves prepare the food. I love it because I get to see what they are learning, techniques, the kind of food they are learning to prepare, and more. Our waitress was the nicest woman I have ever had serve me. I am all about customer service so they instantly won brownie points in my eyes. She didn't keep up on PJ's refills, though, but her kindness made up for it.

Nothing on the first course/appetizer menu caught our eye. Probably because we didn't know what much of it was! So on to the entrees we went.

We both ordered the Grilled Filet of Beef “Oscar” ($27 each), atop a red wine demi glace, with root vegetables and roasted potatoes in a green sauce that may have been parsley or pesto based. You would think I would know from the taste because parsley and pesto do not taste the same lol. But I don't remember. My filet was nicely cooked and the bearnaise sauce tasted homemade and was delicious! The root vegetables were tender and were delicious with the sauce. PJ said his steak was too salty, but what does he know? :) The crab was a little too fishy for him, too. He must have been picky that day. The potatoes were not cooked enough... they were the consistency of potatoes used in potato salad, which is why I never like potato salad either. But the sauce served on them was good, and I did dip them in some of the demi glace as well which amped them up even more.


















For dessert, we ordered the Bananas Foster, which was flambeed and served tableside. Look at that fire! We each got our own, for only $10!


























PJ is smart and asked for ours with ice cream. I knew I loved that boy for something!

Delicious as expected.




















They gave us a chocolate truffle to take home too, which was thoughtful, even though I didn't really like it.


Elevator shot on the way out!



















Oh, and they have complimentary valet parking. Gotta love that. Just pull on up and they'll take care of the rest. Tip them of course, though, please :)

Cross that off my restaurant bucket list!

Peace, and bacon grease!





The Summit on Urbanspoon

Cross That Off the Bucket List! {Take a Photography Class or Workshop}

Sup, yo?

You know those really long lists that I've made up?

You know the ones? Where I set high goals for myself to accomplish all while knowing I probably won't make it through half the list?

Yeah... those

Well, slowly I am knocking things off those lists. And I had a chance to knock one off the bucket list.

A few weeks ago, I purchased a dslr photography workshop for half off. I have been wanting to learn how to use my dslr since I got it back in December. Sad, right? Well the opportunity came a knockin and I couldn't pass it up.... half price and on a Saturday morning when I was free.

The workshop was taught by Okello Dunkley downtown at The Hilton. I would have liked to actually get out in nature and test out the camera... to learn by doing. But I did practice a bit in the room we were in. Nothing much exciting to photograph but it was still a nice experience. At first I was completely lost. Like, about-to-walk-out-and-waste-my-$40 lost. But then I started to get the hang of it. Kinda.


He taught us about aperture...
















and iso...















the importance of saving raw files...















how to focus (no, I did not even know how to do that!)....


















shutter speed, shooting in aperture or manual mode, and more. This was a beginner's class though, part one, so I knew I wasn't gonna be walking outta there knowing everything. I don't fully understand aperture and shutter speed, but I will only learn more from experimenting and playing around. 


I'm a creeper.


















Apparently I need a better lens, according to Okello. 

Boy, I've still got a lot to learn. Like how to get less grainy photos. And how to focus better. And so much more. But I'm proud of myself for crossing this off my bucket list!


Peace, and bacon grease!


July 17, 2012

Ranch Taco Salad

Why yes, it has been 13 days since I last posted.

Gotsta get back on my game, people! I've got a month vacation from school until I start back up late August, so I'm trying to enjoy it while I can. And that means a lot of sleeping. But I promise to make more time for blogging.

The inspiration for this taco salad came from Taco Casa's taco salad with ranch. Then I saw Tina's recipe for Ranch Doritos Taco Salad and morphed the two ideas together. No thousand island dressing for me. Ranch dressing, though? This girl loves her some ranch.

























Not gonna lie, I do prefer Taco Casa's ranch dressing to the bottled Hidden Valley ranch that we used. What the heck does Taco Casa use?!? I prefer our seasoned ground beef though to Taco Casa's low grade beef mush. Plus Taco Casa doesn't have all the extra goodies on there like onions and avocados and corn. And this uses realllll lettuce, not iceberg lettuce. And ranch doritos instead of regular tortilla chips. 

So there, take that Taco Casa!






















Pile on the goods. Lettuce, tomatoes, corn, avocado, red onions, seasoned beef, ranch dressing, cheddar cheese. Whatever your little heart desires.

Eat and enjoy.

Ranch Taco Salad
adapted from Taco Casa's version + Mom's Crazy Cooking
  • 1 head of green leaf lettuce
  • 1 lb ground beef cooked with Homemade Taco Mix
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 5 oz (about 16) cherry tomatoes, halved and seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced or diced 
  • 1/2 cup ranch dressing
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Cool Ranch Doritos
Layer ingredients beginning with lettuce, then beef, then corn, tomatoes, avocado, and onion. Top with ranch dressing and then cheese. Adjust measurements according to your liking, or add or exclude any ingredients you don't like. Serve with Cool Ranch Doritos.

























How do you like your taco salad? 

Aka how should I be eating mine?  :)

Peace, and bacon grease!





Linking up here.

July 4, 2012

Patriotic Fruit Skewers {Holiday Recipe Club: 4th of July}

Happy 4th of July, everyone!

I hope you all are enjoying a day off of work, your independence, spending time with family and friends, playing {safely} with fireworks, and good food, of course!

Let me help you out a little with that one...

Here's a nice little patriotic snack or treat for the kids, or heck, for yourself. 

















It's super simple. Adorable. And tasty! 

I hadn't realized that marshmallows and strawberries go together well.

Patriotic Fruit Skewers
  • 1 pint strawberries, rinsed and dried
  • Star shaped mini marshmallows
  • 1 pint blueberries, rinsed and dried
  • Wooden skewers
Thread strawberries, marshmallows and blueberries onto the wooden skewers in whatever red, white and blue pattern you like.


I am joining in over at this month's Holiday Recipe Club for the 4th of July - the ingredients were blueberries, barbeque sauce, and whipped cream. {As you can see, I chose blueberries.}


Peace, and bacon grease!





Also linking up here.