Monday, October 31, 2011

2-2-2-Recipes in 1 (Chicken in a Crock Pot & Mac'n'Cheese for 2)

I've been all about reading lots of other blogs as of late...I'm always looking for recipes that are easy - especially slow-cooker ones. Last week for dinner I made a whole chicken in a crock pot from Colie's Kitchen as well as the Macaroni & Cheese for Two that I found on SteakNPotatoesKindaGurl right here in Cincinnati. 

I have to say the chicken recipe was awesome and easy!!! You throw some chopped onion in the bottom of the crock pot, rub spices on the chicken, plop it on top of the onions and voila - you're done! I let it cook all day on low.

I also built a fortress of objects around the crock pot. The little rodents of my home knocked the crock pot off the counter last time I used it (note the large chip on the top). Little bastards ate my roast and I didn't even get a bite!!! Not this time - the fortress of solitude will protect my chicken!

While the chicken was winding down I started up the mac & cheese. It was just as easy - combine sour cream & milk - then add shredded cheese and chopped onion. Then stir in cooked macaroni. Bam - done - put it in the oven.

I took the bird out of the crock pot and just as Colie mentioned - it fell apart - which is fine. I was planning on taking all the meat off the bone anyway - it's what I do when I buy the rotisserie chicken at the store too.

It also provided me with a nice bowl of chicken broth to use later in another recipe!

While the chicken was cooling - I stirred the cooked macaroni into the mixture of sour cream, milk, onion and cheese.

A bowl full of shredded chicken! I peeled the skin off as I was taking it off the bone. Larry likes making sandwiches or just heating it up and eating. I also had a recipe I spied (blog to come) for a casserole that called for 2 cups of cooked chicken!

I popped the mac & cheese into a casserole dish and baked it - it was extremely creamy and doesn't make too much. I get so tired of having so much that I have to eat it every day for 2 weeks (as is the case with the casserole recipe I'm making from the chicken).

So here was my dinner - a little mac & cheese and a little chicken. How were they?

Whole Chicken in A Crock Pot - Fantastic! I have a feeling I'll be making this a couple of times a month. It was so simple and affordable! The nice thing also is the spices can really change depending on what you like or what's in your cupboard!

Mac & Cheese for Two - This one didn't fare so well. It was creamy and cheesy but I just didn't like the sour cream taste. It was very pungent (and I love sour cream). I won't be making this one again - it was very easy though. If you love sour cream - you might try it.

And thanks so much to Colie & Desi for blogging about these recipes. Next time you want to make dinner - go to Google and search just the blogs - I'm sure you'll find something really great! Here's a start for you to check out - I looked up crock pot!

Here are the recipes:

Chicken in a Crock Pot


Ingredients:
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 large roasting chicken   
  • 1 cup chopped onion
Directions:
  1. In a small bowl, combine the spices.
  2. Remove any giblets from chicken and clean chicken.
  3. Rub spice mixture onto the chicken.
  4. Place chopped onion in bottom of crock pot.
  5. Add chicken. No liquid is needed, the chicken will make it's own juices.
  6. Cook on low 4-8 hours.
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.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Legendary Nightlife - at 12:30 in the Afternoon

I recently had a business lunch at the Cricket Lounge in the Cincinnatian downtown. I've previously eaten at the Palace but not in the lounge area. 

It was noon - so not really the time for "legendary nightlife". 

I went for the soup & sandwich ($11 cream of san marzano tomato soup with grilled cheddar cheese sandwich + $3 for ham on sandwich).

The soup was a very creamy tomato soup and I enjoyed it. I don't typically like just plain tomato soup but it seemed to be a specialty there so I tried it. It was very warm and comforting - especially when the lounge was about 50 degrees!

The grilled cheese (with ham) was great - I really enjoyed the sandwich. The ham added a lot to it for sure.

One of my dining companions ordered the Pan Roasted Irish Salmon ($17 - new potatoes, sauteed spaghetti squash, white balsamic-brown butter vinaigrette). Both of my dining companions were all about "healthy" (blech). He said the salmon and potatoes were very good - but he didn't eat the squash (too oily).

Why Should You Go? It was a nice business lunch - other than the lounge temperature. The food was enjoyable and the service was great. Would I eat there on my own dime? Meh - probably not. I would like to try the Palace again - the chef has changed 2-3 times since I was there.

Cricket Lounge on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Need programs for something? Don't miss this girl!

Here's a fun one - it's about my wedding - yeah - my wedding that was one year ago! I have had this in my drafts for a year now - and finally got this out - oye vay!

But it's about great people and a great product! Christi from InkandBloom at Etsy did my wedding programs and I have to say - they were one of the most talked about pieces of the day! 

I want to say that I had promised to blog about it but her shop wasn't up on Etsy for quite a while - so it's been in my "drafts" for a year. I finally went back and checked and hey - it's up! 


But now - let's brag about Christi for a bit!

1. They were beautiful! She printed them on this thick shimmer stock and delivered them all folded and perfect right to my door. I was literally shocked when I opened the package and saw how beautiful they were! The shimmer stock is a definitely must-have!

2. Christi was wonderful to work with! We chatted and I mentioned that I love flowers - especially daisies. She then provided me a few design options to choose from. After I picked a couple - she then inserted my colors - (hot pink and bright ass blue) and voila - I had 3 final options to choose from and we were done with design. The best part was that this was ALL via email and ALL within a few days!

3. I had fun with them. The design is all Christi - but the writing is all Heather! I started with a stodgy boring ordinary program and then HUSSIFIED them and made them all our own. From the thank yous to the dedication to the "titles" for all the participants. Take a look - maybe it will inspire you too!
The inside of the program.

The back of the program.

There you have it - the last wedding post. Check out Christi and if you're wedding planning - my advice - look for LOCAL people to make your day special! I had local folks do the photos, cupcakes, programs, decorating, hair and more. It makes it even more special. And - be sure to make it YOUR wedding.

Interject your spirit into every single piece of the day!  


Monday, October 24, 2011

ABC's of Dining: Pera Mediterranean

For the ABC's of Dining - the public voted and chose Pera Mediterranean which is in Mt Lookout square in the former location of Betta's.

Since we're on a budget, we decided to try out their $5 lunch menu.  Parking is always a challenge on the square but we headed up Delta a bit and found plenty of free open spots just a block away!

I got the Fettucini and added shrimp. The dish - according to their online menu says it came with tomatoes, mushrooms and a cheese sauce. Well - I see the cheese sauce. (Crickets) Yeah - I added shrimp but didn't think that meant I would be subtracting tomatoes & mushrooms. The fettucini on it's own is $5, adding shrimp was $2.95.

The taste on the alfredo was fine and the shrimp was good. The portion is small - which seems like a bit of a gip when we're talking about pasta and some sauce - it's like 50 cents worth of pasta & sauce for $5 - give me a portion size that's worth it!

Larry got the chicken sandwich which was served in tortilla bread and came with chicken, lettuce, tomato, onion and tzatziki sauce ($5). It was pretty good - not that big (again) and no side items.

Somehow our $5 lunch came out to nearly $20 without the tip! I think the $2.50/soda was a RIP OFF! I mean - $5 for fountain pop!?!

Why Should You Go? Well - our food tasted fine but the disappointment over my lack of vegetables and the cost of the soda left us with a "not so much" feeling on the thought of a return visit. I did feel bad for not really trying anything "mediterranean" but I just wasn't in the mood. Meh - doubt we'll go back - especially since Cafe Mediterranean is back open again. (Their website does not list their new address in Blue Ash but Urbanspoon does.)

Pera Mediterranean on Urbanspoon

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Saturday Fun at the Old West Festival

Thanks to In A Galaxy - I won four tickets to the Old West Festival in Williamsburg, OH! Hubby and I took his daughter to the festival for a fun afternoon. And we paid it forward by giving our extra free ticket to a family that was in line to buy tickets. 

When you arrive - it truly looks like an Old West town - or at least what you think one looks like from the movies. There are store fronts set up, wood chips all over the ground and even folks cooking on campfires.

The shops had some pretty neat things for sale - I always love old windows - and this was something that definitely caught my eye. While we were perusing the shops - we heard quite a commotion...what was it?

A gunfight! 

The lady in town won this fight - she was a ballsy one! 

There was also a variety of food booths and some folks were cooking over a camp fire - I was wanting to pull up a chair with them!

And who can pass up one of these? We love making Larry look like a princess!

They even had some baseball games going on with the Cincinnati Red Legs and other original teams from the area.

Everywhere you walked there was music as well. It was a fun day - there are a lot of activities that are more focused on younger kids - fyi. This festival is really popular and happens every year. So while it's over for 2011 - you can add it to your to-do for 2012!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Butterwhat? Butterbees!

I bought a couple of gift certificates from CincySavers to Butterbees - $20 for $40 is a pretty good deal - especially for a new place.

Of course - as happens every once in a while - food bloggers hit a wall. Not only did my phone die on the way - the batteries in my camera were dead as well! So in lieu of photos - you get Microsoft Paint illustrations of our dinner! (Oh yeah - I'm fancy like that) I might be onto something...

I sorta wish I had a contest for this - to make you guess the food item. This is the bread they bring you before your meal. It was fresh and warm and the butter was soft - all good here. 

 Next up - Mozzarella Sticks ($7) (you could tell that right?). These were fine - actually not really. They tasted sort of grainy - like the batter wasn't fully cooked. You could taste the flour between the crispy batter and the cheese. And the marinara was God awful! Barely more than ketchup.

 This is obviously pulled pork, texas toast, saratoga chips and a side of broccoli ($14). Duh! The pulled pork was pretty good - juicy and with a nice flavor. The sauce was a fairly dark sauce - not sweet at all - and fairly strong. The saratoga chips were pretty great. The side of broccoli was good but the chunks were HUGE - it's a little hard to cut the pieces in a little tiny bowl. The texas toast wasn't very good - very bland and dry.


I almost feel like not even saying what it is - just to make you guess! But alas - then I couldn't tell you about the best part of the meal. Larry got the ribeye with a baked potato and broccoli ($25). This steak was FANTASTIC! We've been wanting steak lately and haven't had good experiences (Maury's, Polo). Butterbee's was fantastic! It was cooked perfectly and just tasted great. It had a great texture - which has been the problem lately - they've all tasted like bad hamburger - I'm guessing it's from being frozen. This steak was just like a great steak should be. There was also a good seasoning on it. Great job Butterbees!

Why Should You Go? It's very busy - I've never seen it not swamped - so I think it's fairly popular. Everything wasn't perfect but all in all - it was a good meal. The service was excellent as well.

Butterbee’s American Grille on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

FroYo Baby!

My husband is working for one of the best pizza places in the city now - it's just part-time - but it's perfect for his busy schedule since he's also in school. On his delivery route - he spotted a frozen yogurt shop and decided to treat me - yeah for me! 

Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt is a chain that's in about half of the US. Here in the Cincinnati area there are currently 3 locations (Kenwood, West Chester & Colerain) with 3 more coming (Anderson, Harpers Point & Hyde Park).

The unique thing about Orange Leaf is that it's self-serve! The inside is so bright and happy - I loved it! You just walk over - grab a cup - and go! The fun thing is you can get a little bit of a variety of flavors and try it all! Just watch yourself - remember - you pay for the weight! They also have a TON of flavors - here's their overall menu.

They also have a lot of fun toppings - Larry went for the fruit - I went for the junk. I had wedding cake & chocolate and let me say - the wedding cake flavor was fantastic! Larry went for orange and strawberry - he loved both as well. He's actually been bugging me to go back ever since.

Why Should You Go? It's delicious - just watch the toppings since you pay by weight.

Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt (Kenwood Rd) on Urbanspoon

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Peaceful Drive on US 52 to Higginsport and The Olde Dinner Bell

As usual on a weekend, Larry and I were driving aimlessly on US-52 East and we were starving (shocker) and came across The Olde Dinner Bell. Now I'd seen it many times but we'd just never been hungry when driving by - but today was the day! 

It's really a cute place inside - lots of Americana decorations and a very friendly staff. We came at 330pm on a Saturday - so not surprisingly - it was empty.

Here's all you get to see of the menu :-)

We each got sandwiches and I snuck in a side of cole slaw. I'm really picky when it comes to slaw and most of the time - I don't like it and end up taking one bite and then leaving the rest. That was NOT the case here - it was delicious! I ate every bite!

I was in the mood for a burger - so I went for the bacon cheeseburger and again - delicious. It was a homemade burger (hand shaped patty) - which I always appreciate. It seems like a fairly normal boring thing to order - but when it's good - it's appreciated. This was fantastic! And I always love a toasted bun.

Larry got his usual - a steak hoagie - and it was really great as well! I have to say - I don't really understand the steak hoagie - it's not steak. It's sort of a "meat patty" but this was loaded with toppings and still had that steak hoagie taste to it.

Plus - the one thing we don't have a picture of is the dinner buffet. Right after we ordered - they started putting out the fried chicken buffet. I was so bummed - it was making me drool just from the smell. Imagine hearing a noise, turning around and being faced with a giant vat of fried chicken.I nearly pushed her down just to steal the pan and run out the door! We ended up taking an order to go just because it smelled so good. The buffet is only $10! The fried chicken was delicious!!! We can't wait to go back just for that some time very very soon!

Why Should You Go? If you're up for a pretty drive - nothing beats US 52. Higginsport is right between Chilo and Ripley - so plan you day around it! Go early - take the ferry over to Augusta, KY and have an early lunch. Shop all afternoon, drive some more and then head to the Dinner Bell for the buffet dinner! You'll be glad you did!

The Olde Dinner Bell on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

ABCs of Dining: The Letter O - Otto's

The ABCs are still going on and I'm plugging away - the letter O was a landslide for Otto's in Covington. It's in Mainstrasse across from Lime Taqueria

Otto's is pretty small and cozy and I highly recommend reservations - we tried to go a few weeks before and they were full.

We started with the Greek Flatbread ($9) and I have to say - it was my favorite item all night. It was topped  with spinach, red onion, banana peppers, cherry tomatoes, bacon, olives and feta cheese. It was crispy and light and so fresh tasting. It really didn't have any sauce but it didn't need it either - this was one of the best apps I've had at any restaurant.

The other nice thing was that most all their apps were egg-free - that's pretty rare!

I love the special touches - these milk bottles from France with fresh roses were very nice. And each table had its own unique salt & pepper shakers. Service was also excellent throughout the evening.

I got a special for the evening ($16 I think) - it was a Lasagna Bolognese. It was okay - I prefer it with more cheese and more sauce. It was good but the pasta was a little overcooked and all in all it was a bit dry. The portion was giant though.

Larry got the salmon special over sweet potato fries ($23-25ish). I thought the sauce on his salmon was excellent - he liked it but still preferred other salmon dishes over this. Everything was cooked perfectly.

Why Should You Go? Well - I don't know. It was good - but it was a bit expensive. I've heard such great reviews from others - but at that price I just don't know if I'd go back when I know other places that we enjoy more.

Otto's Deli on Urbanspoon