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Monday, January 28, 2013

Waterfalls & Donuts...yeah baby!

Another blog from my trip to Kent - and this one includes a beautiful waterfall - which was a little rough to see close up because of the snow - so we're already planning to head back in the Spring!

I don't always read these placards but this one was really informative. This village was on this waterfall and had a grist mill among other things - but as that industry died down, the village disappeared. The waterfall still remains. 

And it was beautiful! It's part of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. I love these hidden gems - I don't know what it is about waterfalls - I could just sit and stare at them for hours! Unfortunately - it was a bit cold for sitting and staring. It was more shivering and staring! It's an easy walk down (when it's not covered with snow) and we'll definitely be back!

                               
After the waterfall, my sister told us of a place they call Stownuts! It's in the nearby town of Stow and they have Donuts - so there you get STOWNUTS! 

It's not a big menu and not near as creative as Mike's Place but we were there in the morning so breakfast it was!

Sis was still a bit full from the night before so she just went for a breakfast sandwich - and it looked far better than the fast food junket! 

I went for biscuits & gravy of course! This biscuit was better than Mike's but the gravy wasn't as good. The gravy was just more watery - not sure if it was skim milk or what - but the biscuit - THAT WAS A GOOD DAMN BISCUIT!

I also grabbed an egg and it was fine - bland as all get out - but hey - it's a plain egg. 

Most importantly though - the donuts. Sis got a cherry fritter while I went for a frosted glazed. They were okay - but a little less than the hype I'd hoped for. I mean they were day glo 80s color - how could they not be great?! But they were a little dry and the frosting was thick. 

Why Should You Go? Well it's a cute little locally-owned diner but I didn't love the donuts. If you're interested in breakfast head to Mike's Place. But it's worth it just to say you've been there. 


Stownut Donut on Urbanspoon

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Who Wouldn't Want To Eat "The Dump Breakfast"?

On the way to visit my sister - we were using our History Here app and decided to jump off the interstate quick to stop in Columbus at the Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery. I love any reason to get off the interstate and Larry likes anything historical - so it was perfect. 

The cemetery is small but easy to find - there's no parking - so we just parked across the street and played Frogger to get across the street.

This was a POW camp during the civil war - it was so interesting looking at all the tombstones - there were soldiers as well as civilians. 

It was a bit chilling just to see the rows and rows of headstones...

There was also a cannonball from a battle on display. If you're passing through Columbus - it's really close to the interstate and is a unique, quick stop. 

Then two and a half hours later - we arrived in Kent! And we were hungry! 

Sis said we had to go to Mike's Place - I remembered passing it on the way in - it had a plane of some sort in the parking lot - how can you miss it?! She said it's really good food, really cheap and they serve you BOWLS OF CHEESE SAUCE. Um - yes please!

Larry started with mozzarella sticks - as usual. These were good - they were square (not rounded) and battered - which is always my preference. (This was pre-Weight Watchers obviously.)

Larry went for a hot brown and enjoyed it - he said the gravy was great.

I had a hard time even making a choice! The menu is HUGE and CRAZY! I mean - do I want to try Lutz Lavishous Lust, The Dump Breakfast or The Attack of the Crabzilla? How do you choose when there are things like that on the menu?!

I went for the "The Veggie Scramble Got Sauced" ($6.59) - what the hell is that? 2 eggs on a bed of home fries with stir-fried broccoli, onions, peppers, mushrooms & tomatoes, topped with cheese sauce - served with toast.

Um - hell yeah! And you might be looking at the above and asking - well where's the cheese sauce? See the photo below:

Yeah - that's a big ol' bowl of cheese sauce and you might look and think it's small - like a side dish - no - those are more like "cup of soup" bowls - and one is FULL of cheese sauce!

I poured that cheese sauce over the veggie scramble and it was pure bliss! It was breakfast, lunch and dinner all wrapped up into one!

My sister couldn't decide what she wanted so she got eggs, potatoes...

and biscuits and gravy! I stole some gravy - because I've become quite the sausage gravy connoisseur. This was some good gravy. It wasn't the best I've had - but I did like it. I'm a big fan of the oil/flour/milk concoction but this had something darker in it - maybe bacon grease? It just had another layer in there and it was good. I definitely helped sis finish this off...The waitress tried to take it and I almost stabbed her with my fork! 

Why Should You Go? Well obviously I'm going to say you SHOULD go! The menu is huge - there's no way you couldn't find at least five things you're dying to try immediately. I'm still drooling over the Lost Amigo Rock Gut Omelette (and seriously - read the description). Head up to Kent - check out some history - and then eat your face off at Mike's Place. Enjoy!

Mike's Place on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Food Hussy Recipe: Skinny Creamy Italian Chicken

Pinterest has been such a wealth of information for me - I find I don't love cookbooks that much because I don't like digging through a big book for the 10 recipes I might actually want to make. Pinterest makes it so easy - I see it - I pin it - and then when I'm making my grocery list - I know right where to go! I even have a board called "Recipes I Want to Try" - you should check it out!

I found this Skinny Creamy Italian Chicken before I joined Weight Watchers - but now I think it'll become a frequent recipe in the Johnson house! I really like that blogger - I mean - she's from Iowa - what's not to like?!

This recipe is pretty simple and when I saw "creamy" and "skinny" in the same title - I was sold - there's a secret ingredient for the creamy...you'll never guess it. 

It starts with some purchased herb & garlic marinade and your favorite pesto...you pop it in a ziploc and marinate the chicken in it for 30 min - 8 hours. 

Marinating...

I used chicken tenders because it's easier to portion out and cooks more quickly - I cooked these up in the skillet with non-stick spray. These tenders cook so quick. While the chicken is cooking - start your pasta water...

After the chicken was done - I took it out and shredded it on a plate to use once the sauce was ready...

Next up - saute onions, salt & pepper for a few minutes. Add the garlic for a couple of minutes...then add chicken broth. Finally you finish with tomato sauce and the secret CREAMY ingredient - fat free evaporated milk! Stir and add in your pasta - you're done!

This was utterly delicious! The chicken was so juicy and full of flavor - I loved it! The sauce had a touch of creaminess that I love along with the tomato sauce that is pretty standard. 

I calculated up the Weight Watchers Points Plus and it came out to 12 pts per serving - which isn't too bad for a dinner. Not as "skinny" as I'd like - but I'm sure if I tweaked it - I could make it even less! Next time I would make it with quinoa pasta, lower calorie pesto, dump the olive oil and maybe add some veges to make it a little better. But all in all - a good dinner with a decent point value. 



Skinny Creamy Italian Chicken 
Serves 4
Adapted from Iowa Girl Eats 

Ingredients:

For the chicken marinade: 
4 small chicken breasts
1/2 bottle Lowry’s Garlic Herb Marinade
2 Tablespoons prepared pesto

For the skillet: 
8oz penne pasta
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 small onion, minced
salt & pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chicken broth
8oz tomato sauce
1 cup evaporated skim milk
1 teaspoon flour
4 teaspoons prepared pesto

Directions:
  1. Combine marinade and pesto in a large Ziplock bag then add chicken breasts and squish to coat. Marinade in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or up to 8 hours.
  2. Saute marinated chicken in a large skillet sprayed well with non-stick spray over medium heat for 5-6 minutes a side, or until no longer pink in the center. Remove to a plate then cover loosely with foil to stay warm and set aside. Carefully wipe out skillet with a spatula or wet paper towel. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil then season with salt and add penne. Cook until al dente then drain and set aside.
  3. Still over medium heat, add oil to the skillet then add onions and season with salt and pepper. Saute for 3-4 minutes, or until tender, then add garlic and saute, stirring constantly, for 30 more seconds. Carefully add chicken broth then let simmer until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add tomato sauce and evaporated milk then whisk in flour and pesto. Simmer until thick and bubbly, about 2-3 minutes. Add cooked and drained pasta then toss to combine. Portion out to plates then top with cooked chicken.




Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Food Hussy DIY: Gel Air Freshener

As I mentioned, I'm now making Pinterest projects as much as possible and since we spend quite a bit on candles - I thought I'd try out the DIY Air Fresheners from Delightful Country Cookin.

First I had to get all the supplies:

  • Food coloring (grocery store - $3 for 4 colors)
  • Essential Oils (Michaels/Meijer - $1 each)
  • Knox Gelatine (grocery - 4 packets in a box - a couple bucks)
  • Table Salt (on hand - keeps it from molding!)
  • Water (in the faucet - duh)
  • Jars (Michaels - 99 cents each)
  1. You put a few drops of food coloring and a dribble of essential oils in the jar.  
  2. Boil a cup of water on the stove
  3. Stir in 4 packets of gelatin and whisk until dissolved
  4. Pour in 1 cup of COLD water and 1 Tbsp salt
  5. Quickly poor the mixture into your jar 

I made one in blue for Larry's Indianapolis Colts basement man cave...

...and one in orange/yellow for the bathroom upstairs! 

I really loved this project - it was soooo quick and easy - plus really useful! It's been a few weeks and it still smells fresh in the bathroom! I think it's better for a small space and if I had it to do again - I'd do a double batch. Luckily I'd bought enough gelatin to do this one twice for both jars. 

Have you tried any Pinterest projects lately? I'd love to find some new DIY stuff to make!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Stinky Chinese No More!

There's one place that has undergone quite the transformation and if you haven't seen it - you need to. 

I used to refer to AmerAsia on Madison in Covington as "Stinky Chinese" - we went there not for the ambiance (or the smell) but for the cheap tasty Chinese food! 

Now it's undergone a menu change and a complete interior redesign! There are funky tables, posters everywhere, hanging lights - it's actually hip. WTF?! I kind of miss my stinky chinese - but they did keep one thing - good cheap-ass food! 

Oh how I wish I had photos of the original - it was sooooooo ugly! My girls from work have no idea how classy it is now?!

Their lunch specials which come with rice are $5.50! You can add soup/egg roll or sub lo-mein. But seriously - you aren't going to find a better lunch for less than $6! 


The one thing I miss is the bowl of krispies on the table - I was so looking forward to them when we went but there were none to be had. :-(

Why Should You Go? If you work in NKY or downtown - this is a must-do for lunch. I'm not sure how far I'd travel - but I really enjoy it and will definitely be back. 


AmerAsia on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Mary Jane Brownies Review & Giveaway!

One of the most difficult things as a food blogger is when you decide that you need to lose some weight. It's hard enough being any normal person - let alone when you have people sending you food in the mail! What's even worse is when I asked for it! haha

That's right - before I decided it was time to lose weight - I contacted Mary Jane Brownies and asked if they wanted me to blog and do a giveaway! Oh the humanity! But hey - I can do this!! 

So first - yes - Mary Jane Brownie Company (No - there's no "mary jane" in the brownies! It's her mom's name - get your heads out of the gutter!) was a fall 2012 winner of a $10,000 low-interest loan for graduates of the Bad Girl Ventures program. I read about their win and decided to see if they wanted to send me a sample of these brownies and some for you!

They sent me a sampler box of 6 flavors of individually-wrapped brownies and they showed up on my doorstep right after I joined Weight Watchers. I decided there was only one solution:
 

Take them to work! That's right - make everybody else eat them! So I took the brownies to work and then cut each into 4-6 pieces so everybody could try a couple different flavors. The best part was - I only ate 2 bites (half of one brownie)!

The brownies are all made with organic ingredients - so it's nice to know that they're made with quality!

And here are some of the girls from work enjoying the variety of brownies! Trust me: 12 people + 6 brownies = empty plates!

Here are the team's preferences in order:
  1. Caramel Sea Salt Gold Brownie - hands down - this plate was empty first! I hate caramel (what?) so I didn't try it - but the folks that didn't get a bite were wishin' they had! It's ooey gooey and everybody loved it!
  2. Wowie Coconut Almond Crunch Brownie - easily the #2 favorite! Everybody said it was like an Almond Joy - and that first came from someone that doesn't like coconut but loved this brownie. 
  3. Twisted Peanut Butter Brownie - this was my favorite - I love peanut butter & chocolate!
  4. Urban Bourbon Caramel Pecan Brownie - I was not a fan of this one - but most others liked it. The bourbon flavor is STRONG and I thought it tasted like alcohol. But if you like bourbon - you'll love it! 
  5. Super Funk Chocolate Chunk Brownie - by the last two - these were really a tie - the unique flavors were really what people gravitated towards...
  6. Mary Jane's Pure Cocoa Brownie - that said - nobody spit these two brownies out by any means - if this were the only flavor you were provided - you'd love it just the same! 
A box of six (one flavor or assorted) is $22 and the brownies are individually-wrapped and you can pick the wrapper design for your box. While I'm not sure I would buy these for myself - I think it's a really great price for such a fun, cute and tasty gift! I know quite a few people that would love for this to show up in their mailbox.

And now - for you! You can enter to win a box delivered to your doorstep (or even a gift to someone else if you like). So have some fun and enjoy - I can't wait to give out this prize! 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Food Hussy Recipes: Crockpot Freezer Meals Pt 2 + 5 Crockpot Cooking Tips!

                            


This winter I've laid off the coupons a little but ramped up on my Crockpot and decided to make another round of Crockpot Freezer Meals. This round I grabbed quite a few recipes from Six Sisters - it's always helpful! 



Slow Cooker BBQ Spareribs (from SixSistersStuff.com)
Ingredients:
1-2 lbs of country-style pork ribs
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1 1/2 Tablespoons seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white vinegar
Directions:
Place pork in resealable gallon-sized freezer bag. Mix remaining ingredients together in a bowl and pour over pork. Mix together in bag and zip closed.
When ready to eat, remove from freezer and thaw in fridge for 24 hours. Cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours or LOW for 6-7 hours. 

Cooking Tip #1: it's really key to use a meat with some type of fat in it when using the crock pot. 

You're not adding any in the cooking - so it's okay to use some in the meat. Otherwise it just dries out too much. This was also my first time buying Liquid Smoke - that stuff has a great smell! Loved it!


Chicken Broccoli Alfredo (from SixSistersStuff.com)
Ingredients:
1 ½ pounds chicken breasts
1 (16 oz) bag frozen broccoli florets
2 (16 oz) jars Alfredo sauce (I use light)
1 large green pepper, chopped
1 (4 oz) can sliced mushrooms, drained
Directions:
Place all ingredients in a resealable gallon-sized freezer bag and mix together.
When ready to eat, remove from freezer and thaw in fridge for 24 hours. Cook on LOW for 4-6 hours. 

Cooking Tip #2: Stick with the cooking time in the recipe! 

A lot of times you think - oh it's in the crock pot - it doesn't matter how long it's in there for. Well with this one - it definitely made a difference. After 10 hours (work + commute) the alfredo mixed with the condensation and was just watery and had no cheese creaminess left. It was awful. I'm guessing that at the 4-6 hour mark it would have tasted better.


Cooking Tip #3: Buy produce when it's on sale, prep and freeze! 

My sister had bought a bunch of peppers this summer on sale and then froze them - I've been whittling away at them. It was such a great idea - because I've been using them all fall and winter! They're finally gone but it made it so much easier - I just grabbed a handful and threw them in!


Chicken Cacciatore (from SixSistersStuff.com)
Ingredients:
1 lb chicken breasts
1 (26 oz) jar of chunky vegetable-style spaghetti sauce
1 zucchini, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 sweet onion, chopped
Directions:
Place all ingredients in a resealable gallon-sized freezer bag and mix together.
Garnish: chopped black olives, shredded Parm cheese
When ready to eat, remove from freezer and thaw in fridge for 24 hours. Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours. 



Cooking Tip #4: Ample liquid = juicy chicken! 

This is the only one I grabbed a final pic of - it was pretty good - I think the best thing about it was how juicy the chicken was. A lot of times it gets really dried out - but this was some of the juiciest chicken I have ever had! 


Black Bean Taco Soup (from SixSistersStuff.com)
Ingredients:
1 lb lean ground beef (or ground turkey works too!)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 package mild taco seasoning mix
1 (16 oz) bag frozen corn
1 (16 oz) can black beans drained and rinsed (you could use kidney beans or pinto beans)
2 (14 oz) cans stewed tomatoes
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (4 oz) can diced green chilis
Directions:
Brown meat and onion, drain. Let meat cool for a minute, then dump into a resealable gallon-sized freezer bag.
Dump the remaining ingredients into the bag, mix together, and zip bag closed.
When ready to eat, remove from freezer and thaw in fridge for 24 hours. Cook on HIGH for 1-2 hours or LOW for 2-3 1/2 hours.
Serve with tortilla chips, cheese, sour cream, and guacamole.


Cooking Tip #5: You can't go wrong with chili-like meals! 

This was by far my favorite - the taco seasoning really added a lot of flavor to the sauce/soup and it was delicious. I make some variation of this every couple of weeks.

Now - for the freezer portion - there are a couple of different ways to go about it:

1. Do all the meals at the same time and then go in stages (prep all veggies, prep all meats, etc...) and then just bag at the end.
2. Do 1-2 recipes at a time - this is the route I tend to go.

If I had a buddy with me - I could probably do the first - but doing it on my own it's a little overwhelming - so I break it up and do a couple at a time. I buy all the supplies at once - but then break it up over a couple of nights.

Overall - after two batches of these - I like the idea but haven't really found a lot of recipes I would say that I'd like to make again. The Whole Chicken in a Crockpot is a mainstay in our house as well as various forms of Chili. As for the rest - I keep searching!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Food Hussy DIY: DIY Dishwasher Detergent

So I've been trying the DIY thing thanks to Pinterest - I find such fun ideas! I have seen a lot of pins for laundry and dishwasher detergent - and since I was out of both - I decided to give it a try!  


The base ingredients are the same for both: Borax and Arm & Hammer Washing Soap - both are in the laundry aisle at Meijer/Walmart. The cost for both boxes was $11 - I've been able to make one batch of laundry and one batch of dishwasher soaps. Not bad! For the dishwasher you also used LemiShine ($3) and Kosher Salt ($3). I did use the entire container of LemiShine - but the Kosher Salt has plenty left over. 

The "recipe" is sooooo simple:

DIY Dishwasher Detergent

In a big bowl - combine: 
* 2 cups Borax 
* 2 cups Washing Soda
* 2 cups LemiShine
* 1 cup Kosher Salt

Stir and you're done! You use 1 Tablespoon per load in the dishwasher. 




I did use a dishwasher cleaner right before I used this for this first time - but it cleaned marvelously! Like this is 100x better than anything I had used (Finish, Cascade, etc...) - my dishes were all sparkling with no reside in them! The plates (even with caked on food) were bright white! 

When I made mine - I just poured all the ingredients into the container you see here - my measuring cup was dirty - so I used that small juice glass to measure. I used 2 of those for the borax, soda, lemi shine and then 1 of the salt. Once I had all the ingredients together - I put the lid on and then just shook it up for a few minutes to mix it! 

Bottom line: I will definitely keep using this and recommend it to any of you! Hope you like it!