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May 21, 2012

May's Secret Recipe Club - Bechamel Sauce


I'm suffering, people. I can't eat anything! Well, I can eat some things, but nothing that is satisfying me! I got my wisdom teeth removed the other day and have been eating soup, ice cream, and yogurt for the past 2 days. I'm over it.

So when the time came to select a Secret Recipe Club recipe, I knew my options were limited. Tandy has some great recipes on her site... if only I could eat them! Maybe I should have made something earlier so I'd have more options and would be able to eat some of her yummy recipes, especially ones that are on my (not-yet-finished) 30 by 30 recipe list. I wanted to make her savory souffle, eclairs, and creme brulee. But I ended up picking her bechamel sauce. I was intrigued because I've heard of this sauce before, and she recommended it with scallops and I figured I could eat scallops since they are soft.

Bechamel is a basic white sauce. You guys know I'm all about the sauces. So I couldn't pass up an opportunity to try a new sauce, plus eat some beloved scallops which sounded so much better than yogurt or soup. 

Not gonna lie, I tasted the sauce by itself and I wasn't a fan. It didn't really have much taste or flavor. But with the scallops it was better, but still not very much flavor. I learned that it is really more of a base for other sauces, like mornay, or as a base in lasagnas, mac and cheese, or gratins. 

Bechamel Sauce
from Lavender and Lime
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 thick slice of white onion
  • a dash or two of nutmeg + more for seasoning, if desired
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • freshly ground black pepper, for seasoning
  • salt, for seasoning
In a pot, gently heat milk, bay leaf, onion, and dash or two of nutmeg. Remove from heat just before it comes to boil. Cover and set aside to infuse for 30 minutes. Strain the milk into a bowl or container and discard the bay leaf and onions. In the same pot, add butter and melt over low heat. Add the flour and stir briskly until smooth to form a roux. Gradually stir in milk. Bring to a boil and whisk to prevent lumps. Season with pepper, salt, and more nutmeg if desired. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Printable Recipe

I did have to convert measurements, so hopefully my google searching was accurate.

I will definitely be trying this bechamel sauce base in some lasagnas and macaroni and cheese recipes soon! 

Annnnnnnd now I think I have pieces of scallop in my teeth  :(

Peace, and bacon grease!

May 18, 2012

Sweet Grape Salad {Eating the Alphabet Series}

Last month I didn't participate in the Eating the Alphabet challenge but I'm back, baby. 

Ok, ok so I'm a little late posting. But thank goodness they leave those linkies open for a few days for slackers like myself  :)

For this challenge, we have to make a recipe using a fruit or vegetable (or grains or beans) that starts with a specific letter. This month we had the letters G or H. I decided on g for GRAPE!

I decided to go with this grape salad that I saw on Cassie's blog, and she got it from here, where I was able to scale down the measurements and figure out a good amount for us, not for a potluck or party.

Sweet Grape Salad
slightly adapted from Cassie Craves, originally from
  • 1/2 lb red seedless grapes
  • 2 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 oz sour cream
  • 1/8 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp pecan pieces
Mix first 5 ingredients together. Sprinkle with brown sugar and pecan pieces. Refrigerate overnight. Toss and serve cold.

Printable Recipe


I love simple and easy. And it helps that this was a tasty treat. 

I like to think that it is a bit healthy because of the grapes. But I'm pretty sure the 2 creams, 2 sugars, and nuts are killing that idea.

Oh well, I'll take this over healthy any day!

Do you guys wanna join in on the fun? Contact Brenda for details or fill out the form to sign up!

And check out the other G and H recipes in the blog hop below:

Peace, and bacon grease!

May 16, 2012

Cross That Off the Bucket List! {Go to the Casino}

Hello there my good friends!

Just wanted to drop in and say hi, and happy hump day. And fill you in on my fun-filled weekend!

Saturday was mine and PJ's 12 year anniversary. 12 years we've been together, since I was a wee little 15 year-old girl. He's watched me grow up, I've watched him grow up, we've grown up together. Of course we've had our ups and downs but there isn't one day that I think I don't want to be with him. And of course we've changed over the years but thank goodness our love for each other hasn't. That man is amazing and the true definition of what a man (and future husband and future father) should be. Honest. Loving. Loyal. Hilarious. Strong. Assertive. And loved by all. Especially me! 

I know we'll have wayyyyy more than 12 more years together. It's been amazing spending our lives together. Love him so much.

Ok, the only photos I took from the day were of my love and I. And let's see the progression from awful to eventually, acceptable. 

Ok not so bad. But I have a big face and PJ's eyes look drunk lol!

Double chin, check! Aww and PJ is falling asleep on me. Nope, just loves to take pics w/ his eyes closed
Of course the blurry one would have been cute!

another blurry one that woulda been cute :(

The best it's gonna get!

Saturday PJ planned a little surprise anniversary date, and he didn't really think what he had in mind was a big deal. But oh, it was! He didn't know that his little plan to go to the casino was in fact on my bucket list. We had talked about how we wanted to go, but he didn't know that it actually made my list. So now I get to cross that off! Cha-ching! Well, not our wallets. No cha-ching there. We lost about $80 but that wasn't as bad as it could have been lol. I think PJ now has a new addiction. Uh oh.

He had originally planned for us to eat at the buffet there. I was telling him about some fancy restaurant that I had wanted to try that was in some casino but I couldn't remember the name. But as soon as we stepped off the escalator I saw it... Final Cut Steakhouse. This was the restaurant that I had wanted to try! So not only did he help me accomplish one of my bucket list goals, he also contributed to helping me cross that restaurant off of my restaurant wish list. Double cha-ching! Review coming soon, I hope. 

Ok, on to Mother's Day. I was blessed enough to spend brunch/lunch with PJ's mama and grandma Betty at Meritage in Glendale. Um, hello! This restaurant TOO was on my restaurant wish list. So in 2 days, I got to cross going to the casino off my bucket list, AND got to eat at 2 restaurants that I was dying to try. AND got to spend time with all the people I love. Then that evening PJ, my brother Jr, and I took my mama out to eat. We tried going to Benihana but a 2-hour wait?! Seriously!? No siree. Not worth it. I thought I actually heard some lady say that there was no way they were leaving and she was willing to wait. Um, can you say crazy? So we went over to BJ's at Tri-County mall. Yessss, 15-20 minute wait, that's more like it. 

Overrall it was a great weekend! Not looking forward to this one coming up though... gotta get the wisdom teeth pulled. Yes, all 4. Should I be scared?

Peace, and bacon grease!

May 12, 2012

Restaurant Review: Mitchell's Fish Market in Newport

hey HEY hey!

I've got tons of restaurant photos on my computer that need to be edited and blogged about... so that's why you're seeing the sudden burst of restaurant reviews. I want to purge and be done with these posts! I hate that I wait so long to type up these reviews because many times I forget what exactly I had, the menu has changed when I check the website, blah blah blah. I've actually started taking notes while at restaurants so that I can remember exactly what I had, the cost, the experience, etc. I guess I like the actual experience of trying new restaurants more than typing up posts about it.

Oh well, guess I'm in a bit of a restaurant review blogging funk. And have been for awhile I guess since I put them off for so long?? 

But if there's any restaurant that will make me feel a bit more excited about writing up a review post, it's definitely Mitchell's Fish Market. Do you guys know how much I love seafood? Well, I guess not the funky kind of seafood like octopus or squid, and I've never been a big fan of fish, but I love me some lobster, crab, clams, shrimp and especially scallops. It's 1:00 AM, but I don't care, now I'm day night morning? dreaming about eating some scallops...

I've been to Mitchell's now probably at least 5 times... and I wish it were more. I don't think I've ever had a bad experience there! Well, one time I think I ordered the Seafood Americana and wasn't super impressed by it, but still... the  majority of the time it's an amazing experience.

  1. This particular time when I finally remembered to bring a camera and take pics, PJ and I were out for a late date night dinner. I had just discovered that I loved margaritas - who discovers that they love margaritas at age 27? - so I ordered their 1800 margarita ($8.95). Yes, I have bought all of the ingredients to make at home. Loved it! I think it's the best margarita to date that I've had. I haven't had many, because again, I just recently found out that I love them. Margaritas go well with seafood. Heck, let's not kid ourselves here... they go well with anything :)
  2. For an appetizer, we ordered their Crab, Spinach & Artichoke Dip ($12.95). I do remember it being different the time prior, and better, but it was still delicious this time around as well.
  3. For my main course, I ordered a Surf and Turf option. I'm not entirely sure of the name because it's not on their main menu, but it was filet with shrimp and scallops and a baked potato ($27.95).
  4.  PJ's main course was another Surf and Turf option - filet oscar with baked potato and asparagus ($27.95). I tried some and man was it melt-in-your-mouth good! I always want PJ's meal when he orders something lol. Not that mine wasn't good, cuz it was.

Oh, the next day I went back for lunch. By myself. That's dedication, baby. I saw that battered Crispy Cod & Chips ($10.95) on the menu and had to come back to test it out, since I'm always searching for the best beer battered fish. I thought - if anyone is going to have the best fish and chips... it's going to be Mitchell's. And I'll tell ya that theirs was, as expected, one of the best I've had. Mmm, that batter. But I don't have pics from that occasion so I'll stop rambling on about it. 

If you haven't noticed, I just love Mitchell's! And I love to use any excuse to go there. It's not cheap and we did leave with a hefty bill including tip, but sometimes it's nice to get out and splurge a little on a quality meal at a restaurant that you yourself don't have to make. I always always recommend Mitchell's. 

Can you tell that we'll be back?

Peace, and bacon grease!

Mitchell's Fish Market (Newport Levee) on Urbanspoon

May 11, 2012

Restaurant Review: Mt. Adams Bar & Grill

I'll be honest, we went to Mt. Adams Bar & Grill awhiles ago and it's taken me forever to write up this post. I had a living social deal and was excited to try someplace new. 

PJ and I headed there for lunch one weekend, and I had my mind set on breakfast food. 

That happens a lot. 

  1.  Yes, alcoholic beverages first. The "Tootsie Roll - Kahlua, Hot Chocolate, Whipped Cream" - $4.50
  2.  I also ordered a Stewart's orange bottled soda - $2.50
  3.  Our appetizer of fries and cheese. Nothing special, as you can probably see. It was just nacho cheese. I do remember the fries being crispy though, which is a plus - $4.00
  4.  PJ's main dish - the french onion chicken sandwich. He loves chicken sandwiches. Marinated grilled chicken, grilled onions, swiss cheese, lettuce,
    tomato, and mayo on a grilled onion roll - $6.75
  5. My main dish.... breakfast, of course!!  Pretty sure I ordered a mushroom and onion omelet. I remember being disappointed... I can make better omelets at home - $5.95
  6. For dessert - ice cream sundae (minus the nuts, at PJ's request) - $4.50
  7. I had that $30 deal so when it came time to pay I only owed $2.69!
As you can see, the prices are very cheap. Too bad the food wasn't worth it. I guess you get what you pay for. I didn't like my omelet. My drink was fine but nothing special. The appetizer, again, ok but nothing I'd go back for.  

I don't think we'll be going back. Maybe for drinks or something, but I won't count on the food! Maybe it was an off day, or maybe breakfast wasn't the way to go, because others seem to like it. Maybe I should have opted more for some standard bar food?? Not sure, but I doubt we'll be back. The upsides: visiting Mt. Adams, and... that's about it.

*BTW - that collage above was created on picmonkey, before they even offer collages! All thanks to Ashton's tutorial :)

Peace, and bacon grease!

Mt. Adams Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

May 7, 2012

Apple, Bacon, and Sharp Cheddar Grilled Cheese Croissant {Crazy Cooking Challenge}

It's time for this month's Crazy Cooking Challenge!! And this month it's all about the grilled cheese. Who doesn't like a grilled cheese?

Takes me back to my childhood days when my mama used to slather the bread slices with butter and when I bit into my grilled cheese, butter used to literally ooze from it. Oh, the things my mama fed me  :)

I made my usual list of possibilities, and finally settled on this recipe from Creative Culinary, but wanted to change it up a tad. I used bacon instead of pancetta, and dijon mustard rather than whole grain mustard. And I didn't use that exact kind of sharp cheddar - I used Cabot extra sharp. No major changes.

Apple, Bacon, and Sharp Cheddar Grilled Cheese Croissant
slightly adapted from Creative Culinary
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon dried cranberries, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons butter, divided
  • 1 large croissant, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 2 slices of sharp cheddar
  • 2 slices bacon, cooked
  • One half apple, cored and sliced
For the cranberry spread, mix together the mayonnaise, mustard, honey and dried cranberries in a small bowl and set aside.
Cook bacon in a skillet on medium-low until brown and starting to crisp. Drain.
In a separate large skillet on medium-low, melt 1 teaspoon of butter. Place cut edges of sliced croissant face down on butter until slightly toasted; approximately 1 minute. Remove from pan.

Melt another teaspoon of butter in skillet and place bottom of croissant in pan, toasted side facing up. Layer 1 slice of cheese, apple slices, bacon and a 2nd slice of cheese on top of croissant. Spread the inside of the top piece of croissant with the cranberry spread and place it spread side down on layered ingredients. Lower heat and cover the sandwich with a lid until the cheese starts to melt, carefully watching the underside so as not to burn. Carefully flip the sandwich over and repeat. Remove from heat, cut in half and enjoy. Makes one sandwich.

Printable Recipe


When I told PJ that I was making this for myself while he was at work, he said it didn't sound good. Honestly, his judgment had me a bit worried. How would I like this on a croissant grilled instead of bread? I've tried bagels before and wasn't too impressed. How would this mustard and cranberry mixture taste on a grilled cheese? Does the grilled cheese even need that? Apples and cranberries? Is this a bit much?

Um, no Desi... are you crazy?!?! It wasn't too much at all. In fact, it was amazing. It was delicious. It was one of the best grilled cheeses I've ever had. 

That croissant. Oh, I just may use you every time for grilled cheese from now on. The buttery, flakyness definitely outdid any plain old white bread for sure. Usually I can't really tell a difference in different kinds of cheddar, but the sharpness really really stood out. It was a perfect cheese for this sandwich. 

I did have problems photographing these, so I do apologize that the pictures aren't all pretty to show you just how delicious this really was. I'm really sorry for that. But I'm not sorry that I made this and am now sharing it with you all. 

You're welcome for that. 

And the little tang from the mustard and cranberry mixture added that extra somethin too. I even liked the apple slices on it! What the? If you are if-y about the apple slices, I'd say try it with them and you just may surprise yourself on how much you like it. But if you don't wanna get all bold and risky, then this grilled cheese croissant is just as amazing without the apples. 

Now I've got to make these for PJ one day when he's home! I love when he thinks he doesn't like something and therefore I get to prove him wrong. That's always fun :)

Oh, and maybe... just maybe, you can scroll down to the blog hop below and click on my recipe - it's #17 - we've got a contest going on and the grilled cheese that gets the most clicks is crowned the Ultimate Grilled Cheese! Please? I'll love you for life.

Peace, and bacon grease!

Linking up here.

May 5, 2012

Salted Caramel Milkshake {Holiday Recipe Club: Cinco de Mayo}

It's almost over but, Happy Cinco de Mayo, amigos!

We didn't do any big celebrating, but I made sure to have a margarita.

Do you guys know one of my favorite things in life?

Salted caramel. 

For reals. I'm all about the sweet and salty if you don't know by now. 

And for this month's Holiday Recipe Club, we had to make a Cinco de Mayo recipe using either chorizo, tomatoes, or dulce de leche... or a combination of any of the three. 

I chose to roll with the dulce de leche because I love all things caramel and have seen those little dulce de leche cans around stores and always wondered what to make with it. Now was the time to find out. While I was in the aisle I saw the canned kind, and some more  dulce de leche squeezable caramel sauce, same brand. So I just got both. I ended up using the pourable caramel sauce. I'll figure out what to do with the other stuff, oh don't you worry.

I opted for something simple yet something that will brighten any day or put a nice end to a rough work day or week. I found this salted caramel milkshake recipe... with some alcohol added in. Oh I'm all on that!

Salted Caramel Milkshake
slightly adapted from Food Network
Blend the ice cream, dulce de leche caramel sauce, tequila and 3 ice cubes in a blender on medium speed until thick and smooth. Pour in glass and top with whipped cream, sea salt and/or candied orange peel. 

This recipe made one margarita-glass full.

You can definitely make these without the alcohol too for the young ones. Or for yourself if you're not into the whole alcohol thing. But then we can't be friends. Just kidding, just kidding. That just means more alcohol for me  :)

Peace, and bacon grease!

Linking up here.

May 2, 2012

What I'm Loving Wednesday... Pantries, Reading, and Fros!

Whoa there... I kinda started then stopped my What I'm Loving Wednesday posts outta nowhere. But I like them, so I'm back with more of what I'm loving currently.

Wanna join along? Do it.

I'm loving the weather today in Cincy. 87 degrees and sunny!

I'm loving that my first semester of grad school is finished! And I think I did pretty good :) Annnnnd that I have this week off from classes.

I'm loving that I'm starting a new class in a week. Excited to learn something new! Going to get my text books today, and I'm excited about it. Nerd alert.

I'm loving this pantry we are gonna buy soon. We need a new one cuz ours is old and crusty with dated wallpaper in the drawers. Ew! Love this walnut color.


I'm loving that PJ and I are going out to eat to celebrate me being done with my first semester, maybe tomorrow. Someplace fancy, my choice of course :)

I'm loving that I've started back up reading Vee's blog again. I had followed her blog for so long and then had stopped reading for quite some time. Then it dawned on me the other day that I haven't been checking up on her. That woman is somethin else. Pure amazingness in human form. She inspires me, and reading her blog reminds me to cherish my blessings.

I'm loving my curly fro. Gotta switch it up sometimes.

I'm loving that I started back up reading! Um, according to my sidebar I still need to read 5 books for the year. Yep, 5. Still. Haven't read one. So I'm excited to be 30 pages into a book at least. Dunno if it's a keeper yet though. Anyone read it?


Well, that's all for now folks. What are you all loving this beautiful Wednesday?

Peace, and bacon grease!

Linking up here.

May 1, 2012

My Life Bucket List .... {Non-Food Related}


I'm back with more goals for the future. I'm very ambitious today. 

This time the focus isn't food, though.

These are goals that I personally have that have nothing to do with food. Yes, I do have a life outside of food. A very lame one, but still, I have one.  These are goals to make that lame life a better, more fulfilled one!

  1. Vacation outside of the U.S.
  2. Visit at least 10 states (KY, TN, IL, FL, SC)
  3. Write a book
  4. Plant a garden
  5. Create a quote book
  6. Ride an elephant
  7. Swim with dolphins
  8. Go horseback riding
  9. Go on a cruise
  10. Reach my goal weight of 130 lbs
  11. Visit a major US monument
  12. Earn my Master's degree (on my way there!)
  13. Exchange handwritten or typed letters with a pen pal
  14. Take a photography class or workshop
  15. Volunteer for something psychology related
  16. Go on a hot air balloon
  17. Sell something on Etsy
  18. Sell something on Ebay or Craigslist
  19. Go on a road trip
  20. Get a renovated, updated kitchen
  21. Learn to play my guitar
  22. Go to the casino
  23. Take a salsa dance lesson
  24. Take a boxing or mixed martial arts class
  25. Go to a shooting range
  26. Learn another language
  27. Attend a concert
  28. Attend a Zumba class
  29. Have a penpal
  30. Own an iPhone
  31. Learn to surf
  32. Go white water rafting - the real thing!
  33. Visit a waterfall
  34. Go to an art gallery
  35. Go to Disneyworld or Disneyland
  36. Paint or draw something amazing using my supplies
  37. Solve the Rubix cube
  38. Scrapbook
  39. Go on a vacation with my mama
  40. Have a maid
  41. Buy a new car
  42. Go to a Reds game
  43. Go to a Bengals game
  44. Have a child
  45. Install a hot tub in our home
  46. Give to charity
  47. Go to the KY derby
  48. Host my own holiday dinner
  49. Cook an entire Thanksgiving meal
  50. Mud wrestle or do a mud run
  51. Learn to do a cartwheel
  52. Go to a live taping
  53. Get a tattoo
  54. Be on the "Amazing Race" (this has been on my bucket list for awhile now but realistically I dunno if I could do it...)
  55. Attend a murder mystery dinner
  56. Become a licensed counselor
  57. Go to Six Flags
  58. Go to Cedar Point
  59. Attend a parade 
  60. Learn to use html 
  61. Reach my reading challenge goal

This list will probably keep being updated as I think of more things that I wanna do before I die.  I know I'm forgetting some things.

Check out my Recipe Bucket List and my Food-Related Bucket List, too!

Peace, and bacon grease!

Food-Related/Blog Bucket List

Have you guys heard of making a 30 by 30 list?

I've seen it on several blogs now and knew I had to join in on the fun. I figured now would be as good a time as ever to post a list of my food goals that I wish to accomplish. My list came to be more than 30 so I can't really call it a 30 by 30.

These are food-related goals that I want to accomplish, or that pertain to my blog.

  1. Use slow cooker
  2. Use fondue set
  3. Use deep fryer
  4. Get a photo accepted on Foodgawker 
  5. Get a photo accepted on Tastespotting
  6. Get a photo accepted on Dessert Stalking 
  7. Get a photo accepted on Tasteologie
  8. Take a (food) photography class
  9. Meet with a fellow Cincinnati food blogger (Katie, Aimee, Heather, Christine, Melissa, and Tanya) or any blogger for that matter!
  10. Make a facebook page for my blog
  11. Take a cake decorating class
  12. Reach 500 followers
  13. Take a cooking class
  14. Make a wine section on my blog
  15. Attend a wine tasting
  16. Use fondant
  17. Make something using yeast
  18. Go to a cookbook signing
  19. Meet a famous chef
  20. Enter a cooking/recipe contest
  21. Win a cooking/recipe contest
  22. Make a how-to cooking video for my blog
  23. Attend a food blogging conference
  24. Decorate a fancy cake
  25. Visit a food truck
  26. Eat a Philly cheesesteak in Philadelphia
  27. Host a dinner party
  28. Start a cooking club
  29. Collect recipes from my mama
  30. Learn how to make PJ's mama's recipes
  31. Go to a farmer's market
  32. Make a meal using a unique, unusual main ingredient
  33. Use my dslr for food photography
  34. Make a layer cake 
  35. Make a photo recipe index for my blog or categorize by meal type and alphabetically
  36. Make a sidebar of my food photos
  37. Put a cool "print friendly" button on my blog

That's all for now! I'm sure I could think of more. But this is a start. Cuz we all know some of these just aren't gonna happen. But it's fun to dream, and pretend they will! Wish me luck on this journey :)

Check out my Life Bucket List, and my Recipe Bucket List.

Peace, and bacon grease!