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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Food Hussy Recipe: Crock Pot Ham & Beans

I've had a lot of desire for comfort food lately and Larry has been bugging me to make ham & beans...so on the hunt I went for a crock pot recipe because I'm lazy! And Voila - I found one! 

The recipe called for ham hocks but Meijer doesn't carry them - the meat counter guy suggested I get some sort of pork butt - mmm butt! They had them packaged in a wide variety of sizes - so I grabbed one of the smaller ones since there's only 2 of us...it looks fairly pretty in the crock pot. 



Let me also say - crock pot liners are THE BEST INVENTION EVER! Seriously - if you use a crock pot but not these liners - you are missing out! They are only like $1.09 for 4 and clean up is AMAZING! You package up your leftovers and throw the bag away! 


The final product was a little salty - but really comforting and easy. The ham chunks literally fell apart at the end of the day. I think next time I would rinse the ham a bit to hopefully taper the saltiness. All in all though - good recipe. Lots of flavor with very few ingredients - and you didn't have to soak the beans!

Crock Pot Ham & Beans

Ingredients:

1 meaty ham bone or 4 -6 ham hocks
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, minced
1 carrot, shredded (optional)
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 lb great northern bean, rinsed and picked over
6 -8 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon pepper (or to taste)


Directions:

Add onion and celery to crock pot.
Place ham bone or hocks on top of onion and celery.
Pour rinsed beans around ham and sprinkle with pepper.
Add bay leaves and garlic.
Add chicken stock and stir to combine all ingredients cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
When ham is tender (6-7 hours) Remove meat from bones (discarding fat and bones) and return meat to the pot. Stir to combine and break up ham pieces.
To thicken smash some of the beans on the side of crock pot.
When done skim any fat off and discard bay leaves.

Read more at: http://www.food.com/recipe/crock-pot-ham-bone-and-beans-348200?oc=linkback

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Frozen Lunch Review: Lean Cuisine Salad Additions


I'm a member of BzzAgent and get full size products from them ranging from lotion to allergy medication and everything in between - I really like the program and it's fun to get free stuff. That said - they recently made me a BzzAgent for the Lean Cuisine Salad Additions program! I was pretty psyched since I am a food blogger to get something food-related this time around!

They sent me one coupon for a free salad addition ($2.98 value) and then a few additional coupons for $1 off. I saw an ad in the coupon section for them that mentioned they were available at Wal-Mart. So this weekend we headed there for our grocery shopping so I could find one and do my Bzzzzing. 


I chose the Southwest Style Chicken which has chipotle ranch dressing, chicken, black beans, corn, roasted red peppers, poblano peppers and crispy tortilla strips - all you do is bring the lettuce. 


It's actually a little daunting when you take it out of the package - lots of little packages and just a word of warning - take your dressing out and start it thawing at least 10+ minutes before you want to eat lunch - otherwise frozen! 

First you get the dressing thawing, then you heat the chicken/vegetable packet. While that's going - I put the lettuce on my plate. Then layer it all up and voila - a big salad


So what did I think? Well - it's a mixed bag. Most of the time when I'm eating a frozen entree for lunch - I don't really pay much attention. I'm just eating at my desk while I'm working and not really caring about the specifics. For that - it's fine. 

This time though - I paid attention to each item and the flavors - with that fine tooth comb - it loses a bit.  The chicken was a little rubbery, the roasted red peppers were mushy, the beans were grainy, the dressing was pretty good for "light" but still had that awkward taste that "light" ranches tend to have, etc... I'm not sure if it was the peppers or the dressing - but it did have a kick to it - a little bit of lip fire when I was eating it - not too much - but noteworthy.

But then there is the convenience factor - I know it sounds stupid and lazy - but oh well - I never have "salad stuff" around to pack like this. I also like warm toppings on my salad - so this was really easy and had the cool, the warm and the crunchy. 

I don't think I would buy these all the time - but probably once/month - I would get them. 

Here are my notes:
  • Flavor - covered above
  • Meat - covered above
  • Time - really quick (2:30 min) but make sure you thaw your dressing sooner 
  • Cooking - Excellent - no issues!
  • Cost - $2.98 (but free for me with BzzAgent)
  • Nutrition - 260 calories, 9 grams fat (w00t!)
  • Allergens - milk, egg
  • Fullness Factor - an hour later...I'm a little hungry :-( 







Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Mild Boneless Wings - Yes Please!

My Mother-In-Law lives in Hamilton so we're often heading over to Springdale/Rt 4 to see her - last week when we were taking her back home - we stopped off for lunch at Rooster's next to the Springdale Cinema. 

It's pretty much a Hooters-ish kind of place as far as the menu goes but the wait staff is dressed normally instead of like 80s hair band video girls.

We went for an assortment since we were starving and hadn't been there before: potato skins, boneless wings, chili, etc... 

The potato skins were fine - average and the chili wasn't great - I didn't even eat half of it - nothing offensive - just not very good. Larry and I each got some boneless wings with mild sauce and they were really good! Some places the mild sauce is almost like a butter sauce - this was a true mild sauce with a tiny bit of spice to it and the wings were really juicy. We both really liked the wings and finished them up quickly! 

Why Should You Go? It's a sports bar with wings - nothing amazing or out of this world - but if you're in the area or heading to the movie and want some wings - it's a decent place. They were 59 cents the day we went - which is pretty good. 


Roosters on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Chew & Cooking Light Challenge: Shepherd's Pie

My friends at Cooking Light offered me a challenge to change up a recipe or craft provided by the folks at ABC's The Chew. There were options like Chocolate Pumpkin Pie and Edible Ornaments - but I went for something that I thought the husband would eat and I could get my act together to buy for and make in 3 days - Christine's Shepherd's Pie!

The challenge is that we're supposed to take their recipe and make 1-3 changes to it. So since this is also a Cooking Light challenge - I decided to try and lighten up the Shepherd's Pie. There weren't a lot of places for this but there was a stick of butter and ground beef...

So I started by using ground turkey breast meat. I stopped into Stehlin's Meat Market (finally) and pretty much fell in love with the place. I picked up pork chops, ham salad, a femur bone for the dog and asked if they had ground turkey - they offered up ground turkey breast that they ground themselves or some combo of light & dark that came from a tube. The man behind the counter smiled when I chose the turkey breast.

The original recipe also called for peas & carrots - Larry hates peas - so I went with a bit of fresh broccoli. In addition to the ingredient changes - I cut the recipe in half - there's only two of us - so I don't want so many leftovers that we have to eat this for 2 weeks.

Instead of the stick of butter - I used 1 Tablespoon of butter and then added a couple of teaspoons of olive oil when sautéing the vegetables and turkey.

I started by attempting to make my own mashed potatoes with some Yukon golds - I was going to use light sour cream instead of butter - but I made the mistake (I think anyway) of using the mixer on these instead of mashing by hand. They quickly turned into a big gummy ball of tasteless goo. And they hit the garbage.

What's my backup when the potatoes are gone? Instant. Sigh. I was on a timetable and didn't have any other options.

So I put all of my meat & veggies together - added a little beef broth and Worcestershire sauce - and put them in the casserole dish. Then I topped with the mashed potatoes.

Into the oven it went - and I even used the broiler for the first time in my gas stove - flames freak me out a bit. Little crispy tips even!

Here's the finished product - it doesn't look too bad does it!?!

Well I have to say - it tasted like crap! Hahaha - how's that for honesty?! It was dry and tasteless. I was hoping that this would be a recipe you can swap the turkey for beef - but I don't think so. I also don't think the instant potatoes helped it any. The inside wasn't saucy enough either. I was hoping for kind of an alternative to Chicken Pot Pie - but no - not so much.

Oh well - I made the effort! Do any of you have a great Shepherd's Pie recipe? If so - share it! I think I would like it. Funny part is - I bet Larry won't mind it - he kind of likes bland food! We'll see what he says when he eats it for lunch tomorrow!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Cooking Light Holiday Help!

As you're finalizing all of your holiday plans - a great place to find great ideas are the online versions of magazines. I am part of the Cooking Light blogger network and have found some great tips & ideas for this season!

If you're going to be the one cooking - check out their Quick Holiday Recipe Guide! Everybody is always complaining about gaining weight this time of year - you can help by making something delicious and nutritious!

Photo courtesy of John Autry/Cooking Light

There are desserts (like the Honey Glazed Almonds you see here), entrees and side dishes - so there's a way to fit healthy eating into all aspects of the holiday meals and they don't take forever to make! Those almonds are done in about 15 minutes! 

I also know some other folks that are "foodies" and it can be hard to find the right gift - or if my hubby is still looking for ideas - check out their Foodie Gift Guide!

Photo courtesy of Brian Woodcock and Randy Mayor/Cooking Light

What the heck is that you might ask? An infrared laser thermometer!!! How cool is that?! Now you just ZAP! and read the temperature on things (meat, candy, your husband - well maybe?). It's $80 on Amazon.com.

So rather than struggle through the last-minute details - just check out some of the Holiday editions of your favorite magazines - like Cooking Light



Wednesday, December 12, 2012

First Watch - Breakfast food at lunch! And a GIVEAWAY!

I love breakfast and I have been craving it lately! The folks at First Watch must have known because they sent me a couple of gift cards to try it out and to share with you! 

Since I work downtown - we headed to the location at 7th & Walnut (right near the Aronoff) - it wasn't busy at all for lunch - and there was plenty of parking right out front! 

The menu is pretty substantial and it's hard to choose - plus they do have healthy options - if you're in that kind of mood. I wasn't (shocker) and decided that I needed breakfast! 

I went for the Avocado, Bacon and Tomato Skillet Hash (potatoes, the above-noted ingredients, cheese and two eggs on top!). It came with an English muffin and fruit cup on the side. I really liked this! I used to work at Country Kitchen (back home) and we had a lot of these type of "skillet" meals - but this seemed fresher and not near as greasy! The fruit was really ripe and a nice "dessert" for a breakfast meal. The eggs were also cooked perfectly. I thought I might be hungry mid-afternoon but nope - I'm still full!

My friend went for the ChickiChanga - I didn't try a bite but he was also really happy with his choice! 

The service was great too - they were quick and friendly and came back with a refill when my soda got low. It's a great location - I wonder if folks don't think about it for lunch but I will definitely be back! 

Why Should You Go? As I mentioned - the food and service were both good - plus it's a sit-down restaurant that wasn't too busy in downtown - which can be a rarity! I really like being able to get breakfast for lunch...and healthy options are always nice too (wheat germ pancakes - mmmm!).


Also for the holidays - if you buy $100 in gift cards - you get $20 in bonus bucks free (hate holiday shopping - just buy them online)! And they've extended their fall menu for the rest of the year - so you can try some pumpkin pancakes or butternut squash soup for another couple of weeks!

And now for the giveaway - you can win breakfast/brunch/lunch for 2 for you and a friend! 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

First Watch on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 6, 2012

BrewRiver Gastropub

Riverside Drive is one of my favorite streets in all of Cincinnati. You go from multi-million dollar condos to poverty about every 1/4 mile. My friend Kelly lives and works in Mt Washington and I work downtown - so we try and meet somewhere in the middle - often at Eli's - but today we decided to try BrewRiver Gastropub (in the old Maribelle's spot). 

It definitely is a brew spot - they have a TON of beers - half the menu is beer! Since we were there for a weekday lunch - we passed on the beer. 

The inside first floor is rather small - there are maybe 8 tables or so and a giant (beautiful) bar. They do have an upstairs and an outside patio that gets quite a lot of traffic.

I went with the fish & chips ($16) that are ale-battered and served with a house-made kimchi tartar sauce. The fish was really good - the batter was light and not too caked on but still crispy. I was a little nervous about the kimchi tartar sauce but it was DELICIOUS. The fries were fine - a little under-done and served with a house-made ketchup. I did not care for the ketchup - I'm sure it's just 39 years being programmed to Heinz but it just didn't have much flavor. I also asked for a side of ranch for the fries - but they make all their own dressings and didn't have ranch (I know - the blasphemy) so brought me a parmesan peppercorn - I didn't like that either.  But again - the tartar sauce was great - it was a lot different than regular Frisch's type but it still had a strong enough mayo flavor that it was familiar. I would definitely order that fish again!

Kelly got the Muffaletta ($12) which is a New Orleans sandwich with salami, ham, cheese and an olive spread. The bun looked really soft and tasty and she gave me a bite. Unfortunately neither of us were in love with the sandwich that much. When I've had these before they were pressed so it was a little more smushed together with the melty cheese - I think this was lost without that. 

Why Should You Go? If you like to try different kinds of beer - you should definitely try this place. The food was hit & miss - it feels like they want to be "fancy food" - and maybe they hit that mark with a lot of their items. The fish was really great - and I haven't found a lot of fish & chips that I like - I just wouldn't get the sandwich again. The prices are also a bit higher than a regular pub - there was a BLT at $10 but the rest were $12, $16 and up...

BrewRiver GastroPub on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Leftover Shredded Chicken? What Shall I Make?!

Last week I made the Whole Chicken in a Crockpot again (I make it once a month) and so I had a giant bag of shredded chicken. What to make? What to make? 

In these situations I hit Pinterest or my recipe vault and see what I can dig up - this time I found Cheesy Hashbrown Potato Casserole from Six Sisters! I was planning on making this as a side dish and then thought - well hey - why not just throw the chicken in with it? 

I went with the "cream of XX" soup version (they provide two options in case you don't like cream soups) and then just threw in a couple cups of shredded chicken. The ingredients are very simple: bag of hashbrowns, cream of mushroom/chicken soup, sour cream, cheddar cheese, butter, onion and cornflakes. We didn't have any cornflakes - so I used saltine crackers instead - just need something crunchy on top.

I made a little less than the recipe calls for (used 1 can of soup, 1 cup sour cream) because I only have an 8x8 dish. No need for a 9x13 pan for 2 people! 

This was really good - it's not pretty at all - there's no way to even attempt beautifying it - but it's tasty! Larry liked it a lot and even asked if there was enough leftover for him to take to work. I don't always have a bag of hashbrowns in the fridge/freezer - but this is a quick to put together recipe that tastes great! 

Cheesy Chicken Hashbrown Casserole
Adapted from SixSistersStuff.com

Ingredients:

2 cups rotisserie chicken (Whole Chicken in a Crock Pot)
24 oz bag shredded hashbrowns
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup onion, diced

Topping:
1 cup crushed butter crackers (ritz) or corn flakes
2 T butter, melted

Instructions:

1. Spray 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray
2. Fold together chicken, hash browns, soup, sour cream, cheese, 1/2 cup melted butter and onions in a bowl
3. Spread into baking dish
4. Top with crushed crunchy
5. Drizzle with 2 T melted butter
6. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes




Monday, December 3, 2012

Giveaway Day! FruitFlowers.com!

The fun thing about being a food blogger is checking my mail and seeing a wonderful offer from a company/business! A couple of days ago - the folks at FruitFlowers.com asked if I would like to try and review one of their awesome fruit arrangements. Um sure!

Then I decided to ask if they'd like to give one to you! And they said - Um sure!!!


So Friday morning the van pulled up to the house and out came a really awesome vase of Fruit Flowers! Pineapple daisies, melon leaves and chocolate covered strawberries - my personal favorite.

When they asked me to review - they told me to be honest - and that's great - cuz I don't usually mince words. And I'll tell you - this fruit was delicious! I mean - obviously - it's pretty - but then my big question was - will the fruit be fresh/sweet? Yup - it was all great! I think my favorite little find was that instead of some block of styrofoam - they actually use a head of lettuce as the base!

The service was great as well - Denita is the manager of the Cincinnati location (on Fields Ertl) and she was really helpful and when I had to change the delivery location at the last minute it was no problem!



I really did love all the fruit - I have to say - I just don't usually eat much fruit. I just don't want to go to the work of cutting it up (I know - such a lame excuse!) - but this was great - so much better than a fruit basket with a pile of fruit. FruitFlowers.com does all the work for you and then they arrange it so its  even more enticing to eat. I have definitely never eaten fruit for breakfast two days in a row!


My husband now knows - if he ever wants to surprise me with a treat - FruitFlowers.com is the way to go! As long as those chocolate-covered strawberries are included! Man - those were great and it was nice to have a little bit of chocolate thrown in with the uber-healthy fruit!

Just saw this on the site too - if fruit isn't your thing - get a Veggie Basket!

Denita is providing a Dazzling Tulips and Daisies Dipped basket for one of you! And the giveaway will be finished in time for you to send it as a Christmas gift or for your own holiday table! I can't wait to find out what the winner thinks of this one!

Because the Cincinnati store is donating the prize - this is limited to folks in the Cincinnati/NKY area.

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