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Friday, March 26, 2010

Buffet anyone? Hell yes to Homer's!

I am a little "off" - I have too many cats, I watch every reality show known to God & Man - hell I even liked Taylor Hicks! Thus - it's not a surprise that I would see a place called Homer's Smorgasbord and think, "I gotta go there!"

Actually I went to high school with a guy named Homer - so I'm always curious when i find another one!

We passed the big yellow sign on Reading Rd. near Sharonville many times but finally - I got Larry to pull in!

It's a big giant buffet and it's CHEAP AS HELL! Like seriously - it was $16 for the two of us - drinks included. WHAT?????

There's a salad bar but I skipped that - I wanted the GOOD stuff! Here are the veggies - even hominy and greens?!

Starches anyone? The rolls were really delicious! So was the cornbread - I doubled up... FYI butter is on the salad bar and it's cold (boooo!).

This picture doesn't capture my favorite part of the meat line but let me say the fried fish (bottom left) was really really good! Thick white fish (cod maybe?) and tasty!

We both tried the roast beef and it had flavor and was juicy! We were both a little surprised at the quality of everything.

Larry's is a fan of Golden Corral - I'm not. I think everything is bland and kinda icky. He's also not a foodie - he just likes to eat. But we both commented on how much better this is - and cheaper!

The land of dessers - I was pleased that they actually had just plain old cake with the oh-so-good white sugary frosting. I had that and some soft serve and was in heaven!

And now the picture of what I didn't capture on the buffet line - the fried freakin chicken. This shiz was AWESOME!

I scarfed the chicken - inhaled it - devoured it. Then the lady running the register said, "Oh you should go now when it's fresh!" I looked over and there was a GIANT pile of fresh - alas I was too full for more bird. But it was damn good chicken. I watched the Fried Chicken Wars episode of Food Wars last week and was dying for it ever since...my thirst was finally quenched.

That's the fish on the top right - the sausage on the bottom left - eh not as good. Go for the chicken!

Why Should You Go? Um did you not read this - THE FRIED CHICKEN!

Homer's Original Smorgasbord on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Who Doesn't Love a Chocolate Croissant?!

Last year I had a chocolate croissant and just haven't been able to forget it - I just now got back for another one. Where did I go? Cafe De Paris - it's on Garfield near the library.

It's a very small little place with a nice diner counter and a handful of tables. During the spring/summer there are a couple of tables outside as well.

The artwork is really cool and a nice variety.

My friend got one of the "french" sandwiches - he was very happy with it. We did think it was odd it didn't come with a few chips or something. Lots of fresh veggies and unique toppings. I wish I had taken a photo of the menu! They don't have a website...

I decided on a veggie panini sandwich (yes an Italian sandwich at a French place - oh well - it sounded really good). It was delicious!!!! I also got a side of hummus that was equally as delicious and served as a nice dip for the sandwich.

Then for dessert - the chocolate croissant. Delicious! Fresh, warm and buttery - delicious!

It's a bit far of a walk from the other side of downtown where I work - but it's a definite delight when I get over there!

Why Should You Go? It's a very cute little place and so nice on a warm day - and those days are just around the corner! Plus - the hummus and croissant alone make a great lunch!

Cafe de Paris on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 22, 2010

Back to the Restaurants - Virgil's in Bellevue!

A while back I went to Virgil's in Bellevue - it was new to the area and I'd heard some great things. I liked it but decided that after nearly a year - I needed to go back and see how they were doing! I was even sneaky about it - I follow them on Twitter but didn't tell them I was coming...

First, the location, I really love Bellevue. It's becoming such a great little neighborhood spot - if I didn't already own a house - I would TOTALLY think about living there! So much to walk to and right by the river!

But food - yes - food - that's what I'm here for. I had the special soup for the day - but it was over a week ago and I can't remember what it was! I remember there were mushrooms a plenty and I remember I loved it. How's that?

Larry got the fish special - it's why we went actually. They tweeted about it and it sounded good and we were hungry. It was really tasty. I was very impressed by the breading and the lightness of the fish. MMM MMM GOOD. (Fries were fine but nothing to special.)

I got the Cubano - and after the oddball "Cuban" at Hyde Park Tavern - I was a bit worried - would it actually be a Cuban?! It was! Hooray! It was really really great. Meaty and melty - just like it should be!

Why Should You Go? It's a really adorable place in a great neighborhood and the chef is the owner - so the food is great! I really like this option - it's also pretty affordable - which never hurts!

Virgil's Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Recipe #3! Ropa Vieja (it means old clothes)

Bootsy's has this dish that I love - Ropa Vieja. I wanted to see if I could make it myself so in my new stay-at-home-and-save-money way - I found a recipe!

Thanks to Ladies Home Journal for this one...and it's a crock pot one to boot!

Here's the finished product - I served it over mashed potatoes - not sure why - but they were easy and available.

We had to substitute a little - couldn't find sofrito at Biggs and no cilantro at the end - but other than that - we were good.

It was tasty but not near as good as Bootsy's...

Ropa Vieja

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1-1/2 lbs flank steak, trimmed of fat, cut into 2 pieces
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 28-oz can whole tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup sofrito
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • Chopped cilantro

Directions

1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet, Dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat. Add steak and brown well on both sides, about 5 min. Transfer to a 4-qt slow cooker if using, with all remaining ingredients except cilantro. Cook until meat is fork-tender, 10 to 12 hr on low or 5 to 6 hr on high for slow cooker or 3 hr at a simmer on the stove.

2. Remove meat; shred and return to stew. Serve with cilantro and beans if desired. Makes 6 servings.

Why Should You Make It? Well it was good and very much comfort food - although with spring here we're getting out of that. I liked it but it was missing something - so if you have a better/different recipe or if the soffrito was the key - let me know!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Recipe time again! BBQ Beef Filled Biscuits

As I discussed yesterday - I've been cooking up a storm. Today's recipe - BBQ Beef Filled Biscuits. Again - looking to Kraft to help me out with simple and quick!

I used Aldi biscuits that were "jumbo" sized and they were too big - so definitely go for the small biscuits if you try this at home.

What You Need!

1/2 lb. extra-lean ground beef
1 small green pepper, finely chopped
1 small red pepper, finely chopped
1/3 cup KRAFT Original Barbecue Sauce
1 can (7.5 oz.) refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
1/2 cup KRAFT Mexican Style 2% Milk Finely Shredded Cheddar Jack Cheese

Make It!

HEAT oven to 375ºF.

BROWN meat with peppers in medium skillet. Remove from heat. Stir in barbecue sauce.

SEPARATE biscuits. Press 1 biscuit onto bottom and up side of each of 8 muffin cups. (See Note for what to do with remaining 2 refrigerated biscuits.)

SPOON meat mixture into biscuit cups; press into cups with back of spoon. (Filling will be mounded.)

BAKE 10 min. or until biscuits are lightly browned. Top with cheese; bake 3 to 4 min. or until melted.

Why Should You Make It? Well - it's damn easy and quick. If I make it again, I will:

* use small biscuits
* go with non-sweet bbq sauce
* add mushrooms - cuz I love them

Larry loved it though - I think because it wasn't a casserole - he gets tired of those.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Let's Cook! Salmon with spinach, mushrooms and tomatoes from Kraft

So I'm getting married this year...and that means BUDGET CRUNCH! With that, a little less eating out and a lot more cooking in!

TIP: My latest habit is to send recipes to myself with the name of the recipe in the subject line. Then I file them away in an email folder and when I'm getting ready to grocery shop or cook something I just hit the file!

Last week I came across one I had been very eager to make: Baked Salmon with spinach, tomatoes and mushrooms. It was on the Kraft site - so there aren't too many ingredients and it's easy. I'm always looking for new ways to cook fish - it's so good for you but I need some "stuff" to go with it.

Here's everything - like I said - SIMPLE! 5 ingredients...and actually I used Ruby Red Trout because it was on sale and looked better.

Chop some spinach...it was a bit time consuming - taking the leaves off the stems and all.

Throw that in a bowl with sliced mushrooms, chopped up tomato and the dressing. Stir.

Pour over the salmon/trout and bake!

Voila! It was delicious! The trout was moist and flavorful and it was a great way to get my fiance to eat spinach, mushrooms and tomatoes (he really doesn't like any of them!).

Baked Salmon with Tomatoes, Spinach & Mushrooms

What You Need!

4 salmon fillets (1 lb.)
2 cups chopped fresh spinach leaves
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1 tomato, chopped
1/3 cup KRAFT Sun-Dried Tomato Dressing

Make It!

HEAT oven to 375°F.

PLACE fish fillets, skin-sides down, in 13x9-inch baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.

COMBINE remaining ingredients; spoon over fish.

BAKE 20 to 25 min. or until fish flakes easily with fork.


Why Should You Make It? It's a great way to change up salmon from just plain old broiling or baking it. Also - don't be afraid to substitute veggies or fish based on what is in season, available or on sale!

Friday, March 12, 2010

When there's a pile of snow - nothing's better than a deep dish pizza!

Way back when it was still winter and I wasn't wearing flip-flops as I am today, there was a PILE of snow on the ground and everybody was holed up in their homes - except us! I have four wheel drive and figure I might as well use it! So we headed out for a drive!

We ended up at the mall on Beechmont and found that Unos was open!

We were starved and dug into the mozzerella sticks before I could even take a picture! It was my fault - Larry always remembers "PICTURE FIRST!" but I was hungry.

They were fine - nothing special by any means.

We got a deep dish pizza - the Numero Uno to be exact:

NUMERO UNO®
THE ONE. THE BEST.

A ‘works’ pizza with sausage, pepperoni, onions, peppers, mushrooms and our unique chunky tomato sauce. Topped with mozzarella and grated Romano.

I love their deep dish pizza. I still miss Zoey's back home - but it's a pretty good replacement. I'd love to find a local place that makes the deep dish delights like I found at Zoey's. Anybody?

But for Uno's - there's not too much sauce, the crust is crisp and has a hint of sweetness to it and the toppings are plentiful. Plus - you'll ALWAYS have leftovers! Eyes are always bigger than the stomach.

Why Should You Go? Cuz deep-dish pizza is awesome. And if you're eating healthy - you can still go! They have a ton of healthy options and were named one of the Healthiest Options for Eating Out - who knew? Plus for Weight Watchers folks - all their nutritional info is online so you can "point" things before you go!

Uno Chicago Grill on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Visiting West Liberty & Paris (KY that is)

So I'm from West Liberty, IA - it's a very exciting town consisting of one flashing yellow signal light. But it's home and I still have a soft spot for it. Being that I am from WL, IA I knew that I had to visit West Liberty, KY! (There's a West Liberty, OH too - that's next).

But yes - on one of our Saturday drives - we headed south to KY and stopped in West Liberty!

I had to take a picture in front of the sign - poor Larry pulled off the side of the road and had to step in mucky snow to take it. God love him.

Along the way along 460 we found Broke Leg Falls near Ezel, KY. I really can't find much info out about it but we whizzed past the sign and then slammed on the brakes to turn around and see what it was - SO GLAD WE DID!

Basically - it's beautiful. Rocks, waterfalls, trees - in the summer I bet it's an amazingly peaceful sanctuary.

Again - beautiful.

I got this great pic of Larry in the ice...he wanted to go all the way down but it looked pretty treacherous so Nervous Nelly made him stop there...

After all that, we were hungry and it was getting dark so we headed up to Paris, KY and found Jerry's!
It appears from the comments this used to be a chain but there aren't many left. It was definitely old school and LOTS of old people as well!

My salad with honey mustard to start things off...nothing special but good especially when you're starving!

I got steak & shrimp with mac & cheese. The steak was superthin and not that good but the shrimp was delicious! I'll basically eat any mac & cheese but it was fairly mushy.

Larry got the steak & chicken. His steak was better than mine - much thicker - it was definitely rare (we asked for medium) but we all lived. The rice was kinda gross...no flavor.

2 buns...nothing noteworthy here. Honestly the food at Jerry's wasn't great but we didn't have a lot of options. It was fine and the service was great so it was worth the stop.

They were also selling this homemade sweet sorghum. I asked if it was like syrup and they said "Um no." They couldn't really explain what it WAS like but said you eat it with biscuits. I decided to pass.

This was also our day for interesting food items. We stopped somewhere along the way for a snack and found these. The Red Velvet were like twinkies but I've NEVER heard of Mrs. Freshley's! Larry seemed to remember Mambas from his childhood and he was happy to mow down the whole pack!

Why Should You Go? Well, it's nearly a 3 hour drive so you gotta really wanna go! But - the Falls were definitely worth the drive and we were just lucky enough to stumble upon it. Maybe check it out for a lazy day picnic with an overnight stay at a B&B?

Jerry's on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Colerain Mexican!

When I'm in a new neighborhood and I am hungry - I tend to head towards the first Mexican place I can find. Why? Well most of the places around are typically chains but there's not really a lot of Mexican chains (Don Pablos does NOT count) so I can usually avoid the chain and still get fed!

We recently purchased and filled an aquarium and while we were out finding new fishes we were on Colerain. I'm always intrigued by this road - there are just soooooo many businesses! I definitely can't be the one driving because I'd wreck!
After finding the right fish and tank decor - we were starving! We found Los Panchos and made our pit stop. It wasn't too busy - they had a few tables near the bar amidst some flat-screen tvs and that's where we perched.

Chips and salsa of course - I think it's rule #1 for Mexican restaurants to have these plastic bottles for the salsa - seriously - they all have the same ones! Chips were good - warm...always better.

Really no recollection of what we ordered - it's been a couple of weeks. He got ground beef and was nice enough to share his sour cream. The portion sizes were very large!

I got shredded chicken - always like that better than the fajita stuff in an enchilada. Again - giant plate full o' food!

Why Should You Go? Well it's nothing to drive out of the way for - but if you're in the Colerain area - it's a definite safe stop. Good food, large portions, nice staff and affordable!

Los Panchos Restaurant & Cantina on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Comfort Food...like Mom makes

I've said it before and I'll say it again - the Bluebird Restaurant in Norwood is one of my favorite restaurants in Cincinnati. It's not fancy, they don't have a website and they even have the jukeboxes at every booth (they work too).

It's not magical but its consistent. So much so - the adorable waitress whose section we ALWAYS sit in - well she knows our breakfast order by heart (#1 with full order of biscuits & gravy and no eggs for Larry and French Toast w/ sunny side up egg, toast & sausage for me - plus OJ and Diet Coke).

After the gym one night we were starving (yes - it's a pattern) and we decided to head to the Bluebird. We're typically breakfast people but screw it - we were hungry and they were open!

Larry got the steak hoagie and it was really really good. I'm not a huge fan in general but this one is tasty! Their fries are big too and always cooked just right.

I, of course, had to be adventurous and got the Reuben with potato pancakes. Again - delish! The pancakes weren't as crunchy/greasy as the ones from Izzys (which I LOVE) but were still tasty. Also the corned beef was really tasty - I was pulling it out and eating it plain.

Why Should You Go? I can't help but go - it's "our place". It's very very clean - which is good (and sometimes rare) for a mom & pop diner. The service is always friendly and prompt. The prices are good and the food is too! Plus we picked up their monthly menu - it shows the nightly special and there are things on it like Chicken Fried Steak (thus the headline) and Liver & Onions.

Bluebird on Urbanspoon