Yum! Yes! Cupcake Delight

Our office has a procedure for office birthdays - each person is assigned a person and you bring treats for that person's birthday. It's become fairly common practice for those treats to be cupcakes. I mean who doesn't love a cupcake?! 

This time we got a new cupcake to try - as one of our newer employees lives in the Oakley area and brought us delights from Yum!  Yum is located off Oakley square across from Oakley Pub. 

They picked out a wide variety for us to try and we were definitely excited! Look at all that goodness! 

They have a nice variety of flavors: Chocolate Cheesecake (um yes please), Pink Champagne, Tres Leches and so many more!

My favorite tends to be Strawberry - so I tried that - it's like my base for cupcake judgement. This was delicious!!! The cake was moist with pieces of strawberry, the icing was thick and sugary and a good strawberry flavor and the whole thing was topped with little crunchy strawberry beads! 

Mmm Mmm Good! 

Why Should You Go? I absolutely loved these cupcakes from Yum and will definitely try them out again! Especially since Yum! cupcakes are only $2 each!

Yum! Gourmet Cupcakes and More on Urbanspoon

Firehouse Subs - subs, pickle buckets, charity donations and a giveaway!

Larry and I recently were invited to a special blogger dinner at Firehouse Subs by Tri-County Mall. We had been to Firehouse once before but didn't really know much about it. Boy - were we in for some treats and surprises! 

They're opening quite a few of these in the Cincinnati area - I think they'll be up to 20 in the next year or so!

This was a blogger dinner - so there was a whole bunch of us - and I got to meet Desiree - who I've been chatting with for a couple of years! That was definitely a fun surprise!

Firehouse was the first chain to use the new Coca Cola freestyle machines - if you haven't seen one - they're pretty cool. There are about 20 different sodas and then you can add flavors to each. So if you want an orange Sprite - you can have it! If you want a Raspberry Coke Zero - you can have it! There are literally hundreds of combinations!
Hook & Ladder: Smoked turkey breast, Virginia honey ham and melted Monterey Jack, served Fully Involved.

So while we were continuously brought delicious subs - one of the founders, Robin Sorensen, chatted with us and told us how Firehouse started and all the things that make them stand apart.

Robin & his brother Chris were firefighters in Jacksonville and decided to start a business together. Their dad had run a TV sales/repair business - so they learned their excellent customer service skills from working there. Dad was also a good cook and they gained a love of food (and hot sauce) from him and put that all together to open a sub place.

The first sandwich is their specialty and now - it's Larry's favorite. The Hook & Ladder has turkey, ham and jack cheese. They steam their meat and cheese instead of toasting it and wowee - this makes a huge difference! The meat is so juicy! I loved it!

They also have a HUGE foundation and if you get a Hook & Ladder combo - 25 cents goes right to the foundation. They have supplied tens of thousands of dollars in lifesaving equipment for a variety of organizations right here in Cincinnati!

Their Dad also created a great hot sauce that they have on all the tables and for sale. Captain Sorensen's sauce uses the Datil Pepper from the Caribbean. I'm not a big fan of traditional hot sauce but this stuff is awesome! It was sweet and spicy - so good! I use it every time I go now.

New York Steamer: Corned beef brisket, pastrami, melted provolone, mustard, mayo, and Italian dressing.

Next up was my favorite of the evening - the New York Steamer. I love me some Pastrami - and this was delicious! The steaming - I seriously can't say enough - each bite was juicier than the next. The combo of dressings - awesome. It's my regular - for sure. 

Yes - that's me gnawing on a hunk of Pastrami. That's one thing that impressed me the most about Firehouse - the quality of ingredients. They do not skimp - when they started the business they went for the best meats - even though they cost more. Not only do they use pricier meats - they use double the amount of meat of Subway. 

That was one of the most interesting parts of the night - I asked Robin about competitors. He was very gracious and complimentary - but they are in the "fast casual" category which is a step above the Subways of the world. Their competitors are Chipotle and the like. Firehouse is also one of the most affordable in the category. But knowing they use higher quality meats & cheeses than their sub-sandwich competitors definitely stuck with me. (All of their cheese is from Sargento.) 

Italian: Genoa salami, pepperoni, ham, melted provolone, Italian dressing, and seasonings, served Fully Involved.

 This sub was again - juicy & tasty! By sub #3 I was starting to get full! I loaded this one up with the Captain's sauce and devoured it. Larry liked this as well - he was quickly becoming a Firehouse fan.

Smokehouse Beef & Cheddar Brisket: USDA Choice beef brisket smoked over hickory for 16+ hours, then smothered in melted cheddar and Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce.

Last up was the brisket - and I have to say it was my least favorite - it just wasn't as juicy as the others but it is one of their best sellers as well. We really got a great tasting of their menu and such a great feel for Firehouse.

Robin was really great - letting us know how they got started with one restaurant in Jacksonville and now they have over 600! They also have their own signature drink - Cherry Limeade. It's a specialty down in Jacksonville and they worked with Coca Cola to get it just right in the Freestyle machines.

They topped our evening off with a lemon macadamia white chocolate cookie! This was great - but I was so stuffed - I just had to take this home with me.

I was truly impressed by their commitment to the local areas they serve. Each location has a unique mural of something in that area related to the fire department. All that money in the Foundation also goes back into the communities. They were telling us about defibrillators they donated to a school nearby and so much more.

They also figured out unique ways to raise more money. They have these big 5 gallon pickle buckets that they go through in the restaurant. Instead of just pitching them or recycling them - they rinse them and sell them for $2. They went from having all that waste to generating a lot of money for their Foundation. 
Here's me and Robin - we were so impressed - it made me want to quit my day job and put on a Firehouse shirt!  The service at Firehouse the day we went for the bloggers was outstanding - which is to be expected when the owner is in town. It's not quite the same on regular days - but luckily - the food is the same!

We also came home with a couple of buckets of fun stuff - one for us and one for you! There was a t-shirt, USB and gift card for Firehouse. If you are the winner and live in Cincinnati - I'll figure out a time to meet up with you and give you the bucket/tshirt/gift card. If you are the winner and are from out of town - I will mail you the gift card only.

Firehouse Subs on Urbanspoon

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you are the winner and live in Cincinnati - I'll figure out a time to meet up with you and give you the bucket/tshirt/gift card. If you are the winner and are from out of town - I will mail you the gift card only.


Frisch's Founders Day Giveaway

As we know from previous posts - I'm a big fan of the red & white Frisch's guy! I love a Big Boy and never turn down their breakfast buffet!

Well - May 3 is Founder's Day at Frisch's Big Boy and they want to celebrate Dave Frisch's birthday with you!

Visit any Frisch's Big Boy restaurant on May 3 dressed as Big Boy and you'll receive a FREE Big Boy!

Channel your inner Big Boy and create your own costume or "check" out a free printable costume at http://www.frischs.com/foundersday.html.

RSVP on Facebook and invite your friends!

And in honor of Founder's Day - Frisch's wants to give you a $25 gift card! Enter below and one of you will win a $25 gift card for a bunch of Big Boys.

But remember even if you don't win - you can still get a free Big Boy on May 3!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Whole Lotta Trotta!

Well my husband came in 3rd in the NCAA pool at my job - THIRD. He lost by 2 points. TWO. And while that sucked...there's always a silver lining - right? Well this time - it wasn't a silver lining - it was a pizza lining! 

The coworker that won the pool was generous enough to take a portion of the winnings and treat the office to pizza! Yeah - and completely amazing West-sider pizza at that! Trotta's Pizza is a drive-thru beer cave that happens to have really great pizza too!

I'm serious - it's a drive thru liquor/beer cave with food! How fantastic is that?! It's definitely worth a trip to the west side for this pizza.

They have something called the "Lotta Trotta" which apparently is a giant freakin pizza.

And they have a great beer selection - this isn't just Budweiser and Hude - they have lots of great options!

But how about the pizza? Um yeah - it's awesome too. They have a greek pizza - that comes with little containers of FANTASTIC tzatziki! Um delicious. This was a great pizza - the crust is thick and fluffy - the toppings are plentiful and the flavor - spot on.

Our other pizza was Tim's own favorite: sausage, spinach, pepperoni and banana peppers. He said it - the sausage is the key - this is not your average rabbit dropping balls of sausage - this is delicious, REAL italian sausage! While I jumped at the Greek pizza - I came back for seconds and ended up drooling over this one.

Why Should You Go? This pizza is delicious! There's a nice amount of sauce with a great crust. The pizza is nice and thick and the cheese gets all crispy on the edges. I told Larry - we're making a stop on the way home through the west side for this one night very soon!

  Trotta's Pizza on Urbanspoon

Tacos Tacos Tacos! (and guac and queso)

The folks I work with are pretty fun and every so often - we all get to have fun together outside of work. A couple of weeks ago - we got together to celebrate our end of fiscal at Bakersfield OTR. And I'll tell ya - that's when I know I'm not a hipster - when I check out Urbanspoon and a restaurant has 18 blog posts written about it. I may be late to the boat - but hey - at least I got a ticket. 

While waiting for the picnic tables up front to open up for the raucous crew that we had - we stood at this odd cement standing table near the bar and noshed on chips and guac ($6). This was delicious! The guacamole was similar to Nada in it's chunkiness and flavor - the chips were great because they were all like the best ones you get from Chipotle - you know - the ones with the lime juice AND the salt! 

Then they brought out this unbelievable queso ($5)! Seriously - I would go back for this in a heartbeat. Of course - I am a cheese addict - but everybody was raving about the queso! It's in a cast iron skillet and bubbly hot and just cheesy broiled deliciousness. I could seriously stop with the queso & guac - but hey - why not drink and eat more?!

Kristyn - well she'd had a rough week...and decided to take matters into her own hands. 

Me on the other hand - well - I'm a complete lightweight when it comes to drinking. So I asked for a half-weight margarita with salt. She looked at me a little funny when I asked for HALF the tequila but kindly obliged. I even got to drink TWO of them! Oh yeah - living on the edge...

These were really good - the "light" version they made me was perfect - lots of tangy lime flavor and lots and lots of salt! I'm not much of a drinker at all - but this I would order again and again.

They have a small menu with a couple of salads, a couple of tortas (my favorite type of sandwich ever!) and 8 kinds of tacos ($3-4).  I had a fish and a pastor (pastor shown with the pineapple). The tacos are small - as another review mentioned - I could probably eat 20 of them - but not after the chips, guac and queso - that's where they get ya! I did like the tacos a lot - the corn tortillas were crispy and I like having little bites - so I could try multiple flavors of tacos. I liked the pastor better than the fish...but both were good.

Why Should You Go? It's a definite must-visit in OTR. They're only open for lunch Fri-Sun as an fyi. Everything we had was great and the staff was very attentive and friendly. They also have lots of recommendations when it comes to drinks. Obviously for me - it wasn't of much use to me - but others found the staff really helpful! So visit Bakersfield OTR and enjoy - along with everybody else that managed to get there before me! :-)

Bakersfield OTR on Urbanspoon

Pinterest Recipe: Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas

I'm always trying to find quick & easy recipes I can make during the week. This one for Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas caught my eye on Pinterest a while back so I had to check it out. 

It's pretty easy and has basic ingredients: chicken, tortillas, sour cream, cheese, salsa, cumin, yogurt and onions (husband doesn't like - so I left out). I boiled a few chicken breasts and then shredded them with a couple of forks.

Stir the chicken with sour cream, cheese, cumin and salsa. 

Then spoon into tortillas and roll up. This is the one step I am TERRIBLE at - I did my best Chipotle-esque wrap and let it go with that.

Then you mix up sour cream, yogurt, salsa and cheese and pour on top of the burritos you just made.

More cheese on top - then bake!

Broil for a few minutes at the end to get the brown, bubbly on top.

And here's the finished product - these were big enchiladas because of my poor rolling skills.

As far as the taste goes - it was fine. I don't know that I would make it again - it was fairly bland. I really thought I'd love this - it's got all my favorites (cheese, sour cream, cumin). So for this Pinterest find - I'd say skip it.

Anyhow - if you want to make it - here's the recipe from TastesGood2.com.

Red Lobster - Reviews & $25 Giveaway!

A few weeks ago - the folks at Red Lobster invited a group of bloggers to taste some of their new items and I am SO glad I went! 

I got to meet Adventure Mom, Family Friendly, Gravy Train and Entertaining Views - all these bloggers and all this food!! It's gonna be a good night! 

First up was a bevvy of appetizers! The Seaside Sampler has lobster & crab stuffed mushrooms, coconut fried shrimp and shrimp cocktail. Shrimp cocktail is always good but for sure the coconut shrimp was my favorite. I love fried butterfly shrimp and you could definitely taste the coconut. 

Do you have anybody in your family that doesn't like seafood? Well - now you can bring them! They have a few new options - one is the Southwest Chicken Pizza. There was bbq chicken, corn, peppers and jalapeno ranch. The crust was really thin and crispy and for a non-seafood person - it's a great option!

Another non-seafood option is their new Buffalo Chicken Bites. Little strips of chicken breaded, fried and dipped in buffalo sauce. This was a favorite across the entire table - who doesn't love buffalo sauce?

My personal favorite was tucked away between two boys but I managed to wrangle some away from them. It was the sweet chili shrimp - this was big butterflied shrimp that is breaded, fried and then dipped in the sweet chili sauce. It had a kick to it but was still light and tasty!

Beyond the apps - we also had the classic cheddar bay biscuits and salads - the Caesar at Red Lobster is one of my favorites! But I'd had both of those before - so I was trying to save room for more new goodies!

I decided to try lobster - it was LobsterFest so what better time to have some! I have tried it before but usually Larry and I get King Crab so we decided to try something different this time.

My special had two kinds of lobster as well as crab alfredo. I have to say their crab alfredo is one of my favorite of entrees. It's one of those things I crave and out of nowhere I'll just have to go get it - right now! So I was really excited to have it - plus with all the apps - LEFTOVERS! Needless to say - I had a great lunch the next day.

First up - the Rock Lobster. These type of lobsters actually don't have claws! Instead of claws they have antennae to protect themselves. Rock lobster almost has a chicken texture to it - you definitely need a steak knife to cut it. It's not near as sweet as Maine lobster. It's good but...

...the Maine lobster was my favorite! It's much sweeter and more crab-like in it's sweetness. Plus - as Larry mentioned - it's far less work than crab! It's got a light texture and when you dip it in the drawn butter - it's delicious!

After this - they even gave us dessert! Oye - we were so full - I took mine home. So yeah - the next day my lunch was lobster, crab alfredo and cheesecake. Not too shabby!

We love Red Lobster - it's good affordable seafood! And now - even more affordable - in addition to the chicken dishes - they've added 15 entrees under $15! Right now they also have a dinner for two special for just $25! It includes salad, biscuits, two entrees and an appetizer or dessert! One of which is Pineapple Upside Down Cake - um - I might have to check that out.

And now I've got $25 for one of you! You can check out that dinner for two special for yourself! Enter below to win that for yourself!

Red Lobster on Urbanspoon

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Brewery Day! Rivertown Brewing Company

Last week we found out how awesome one of our local breweries (Mt Carmel Brewing) is - so this week - let's go for more. I think we're on a quest to visit all of the Cincinnati breweries! This week was Rivertown Brewing in the Lockland area.

It's in an industrial area surrounded by warehouses and factories - but once you find it - you'll have a  good time! 

They offer tours on Friday & Saturday for $5 - but for that $5 you get a free glass and a free pint of beer (or a mini-flight of 4)! 

They have a nice selection of beers on tap and also fill growlers. The rules of a tap room are that they can only have beers on tap that they make on the premises. Larry liked the Helles Lager while I was over the moon for the Blueberry Lager. It was light and had a hint of fruit but wasn't overpowering like a wine cooler.

Then the tour! These guys are really creative with their creations and use wine barrels as well as bourbon barrels for different types of beer.

As always with a brewery - there's a big bubbly (disgusting looking) vat of CO2! 

This was my favorite barrel - I'd love to have that lid in our basement - a bear vomiting fish - fun!

In addition to the tap room - there's a food truck that visits on Friday & Saturday evenings. Burgers one night, pizza the next.

The tour was really informative - I even got to try hops - they are sort of nutty and actually taste better than I thought they would. Everybody at the brewery snacks on them. There were a LOT more people showing up for the tour at Rivertown - it must have better word of mouth about the tour - but even with a packed house - they answered all the questions and everybody had a good time.

While we enjoyed Rivertown, Larry is still stuck on the Mt Carmel Amber Ale - so we head out to Eastgate every week to refill the growler!

Next up 50 West!

Rivertown Brewing Company on Urbanspoon