Thursday, February 28, 2013

Pink. Peppercorn. Chocolate?

Ah the perks of blogging...a fun little box showed up filled with chocolate! Seriously - I didn't know that happened in real life! 

The kind folks at Videri Chocolate Factory in Charlotte, NC sent me four kinds of their hand-crafted artisan chocolate. They sent over: Sea Salt Chocolate, Classic Dark Chocolate, Dark Milk Chocolate and Pink Peppercorn Chocolate.

Since I am watching what I eat - I decided these had to go to work with me. I bust them out in meetings or when pregnant coworkers need a fix. Everybody looks at the boxes and thinks they're fancy soaps but are happy to find out it's chocolate! There are actually two individually wrapped bars in each box.

This is nibbling chocolate for sure - you're not going to bust one of these out and gobble the whole thing down - it's VERY rich. But at $7.99 a box - it's meant to be savored.

It's a small shop and it's open to be toured and you can even host a party there! (If you live in Raleigh - check them out!)


As far as the taste - obviously - it was great. The Dark was really rich and had that bitterness to it that is associated with dark chocolate - I typically love dark - but it was a little too bitter for me.


The Dark Milk was really great! The squares are 1 pt each - so it's a nice treat to take of the sweet tooth after lunch and not blow my diet to pieces.


I loved the Sea Salt Chocolate - there's something about that sweetness and then every now and then a little pang of salt jumps in! Really great stuff!


Then there's the Pink Peppercorn - my coworker jumped at the chance to try it - then looked at me and said, "It tastes like a chocolate steak" (and not in a good way). I tried it as well and while it was my least favorite, I didn't find it near as offensive as he did!

If you're looking for a special gift for someone that LOVES fancy chocolate - I would highly recommend Videri!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Food Hussy Review: Blinker's Tavern

A couple of weeks ago we headed over the bridge to Covington for a big group lunch and someone decided on Blinkers Tavern - which is across the street from the oh-so-wonderful Keystone.

I'm now struggling through on Weight Watchers and work on finding healthy lunch options when we go out - which is not easy. Blinkers had something on the menu called Healthy Grilled Chicken Avocado Wrap - so I settled on that. ($8.95)

The tomato basil tortilla was filled with grilled chicken, lettuce, tomato, avocado and a light lemon basil vinaigrette and I swapped out the chips for broccoli. 

It was fine - dry - but filling. There was a large group and nobody was really too excited about their food. One person got the Amish Chicken and it wasn't cooked all the way through - but other than that - nothing was "bad" - it just wasn't great. The service was good but we sat in the very back and the temperature fluxuated sooooo much! A 2 degree temperature change made it go from freezing to sweating - it's very odd. 

Why Should You Go? Meh - just go to Keystone. 

Blinkers Tavern on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Recipe: Greek Tilapia With Wilted Spinach

Pinterest can really come through in a pinch...I had tilapia and spinach in the fridge and knew there was a combo here but had no idea what to do with it. Quick search and whamm-o - a million ideas! The one that drew me in quickly was the Greek Tilapia over Wilted Spinach

It's super simple - tilapia & tomato in a baking dish - top with garlic and lime juice - cover and pop it in the oven for 20 minutes. 

While that's baking, saute a couple of shallots...

I pulled the fish out after 20 minutes and it wasn't cooked yet - so I decided to pop it in the sautee pan and just speed things up a bit. Then I took the fish out...

Threw in a load of spinach until it wilted...and dropped in a little feta just as it was finishing. The feta wasn't melted but it wasn't cold either...

Plate it up - fish & tomato topped with the spinach/shallot/feta mixture! It was really good. Larry's not a big spinach fan but even he thought it was good. I loved it!

Greek Tilapia Over Wilted Spinach


2tilapia fillets (you can substitute haddock, cod or halibut)
1medium tomato, large dice
1 tspgarlic, (jarred)


3 Tbspfresh lime juice
2 lgshallots, diced
1 Tbspolive oil
8 ozbaby spinach
1/3 cfat free feta cheese, keep 1 tbsp reserved for garnish

Directions


1
 Preheat oven 350F. Place fillets and tomatoes in a glass baking dish. Sprinkle garlic and parsley over top and finish with lime juice. Cover with foil and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork.
2
 In a skillet over medium-high heat, saute shallots in oil for 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium and add spinach, cooking until wilted, about 5 minutes. Stir in feta and heat until melted and evenly distributed.
3
 To serve, place 3/4 cup spinach-feta mixture on each plate and lay 1 fillet over top, finishing with half of tomatoes. Garnish with fresh cracked black pepper, salt, a few pieces of fresh lemon zest and sprinkle on reserved feta.






Monday, February 25, 2013

Restaurant Breakfast that's Healthy? Sure! @PaneraBread

I love breakfast but it's never easy to eat out for breakfast when you're trying to be healthy. I have to say - Panera really impressed me with this one - they have healthy choices, a whole site for their nutrition AND a secret menu?! 


I don't often go out for breakfast now that I'm on Weight Watchers - but I was out and about for a meeting so I stopped in to work for a bit and have a bite. I resisted the Baked Egg Souffles - which was NOT easy and the Cinnamon Crunch Bagel - again - not easy!

I went for the Mediterranean Egg White Sandwich (11 WW+) - it was filled with roasted tomatoes, spinach, egg white, vermont white cheddar and pesto. It was delicious - juicy, filling, warm and hearty. I was really surprised at how much I liked it!

For comparison:
  • Mediterranean Egg White Sandwich - 11 points
  • Sausage & Gouda Souffle - 15 points
  • Cinnamon Crunch Bagel - 11 points (I'd want butter or cream cheese in addition)
  • Power Breakfast Egg Bowl with Steak - 7 points (whaaaaaa????) 

So - I made a pretty good choice - but wish I'd known about that secret menu! Dammit!

Looks good - right?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Casino Dining!

Since we're very close to getting our own casino here in Downtown Cincinnati


I thought I would share an article I found about Celebrity Chef Restaurants in that other city with casinos.

We won't have Tom Colicchio but we will have Bobby's Burger Palace here in Cincinnati - hopefully his first Ohio restaurant will live up to the hype that Mesa has in Vegas. You'll also be able to taste Jack Binion’s Steak and Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville.


I'm not sure which I'm looking forward to most - probably the steak - as the hunk of meat on their page looks amazing! How about you? 


Pinterest: T-Shirt Dog Toys

As you know - I love me some Pinterest and my DIY board has been busy lately! I have even found a few things I can make for my dogs...this was one of them - DIY Dog Toys

These are made from old t-shirts - which was perfect timing because I was planning on cleaning out Larry's t-shirt wardrobe anyway! After going through his shirts - I found a HUGE pile. 

Basically you cut the shirts into strips that are about 1-2" wide and the same length. My hands were definitely sore from cutting. I also basically got a rhythm down where I skipped the sleeves and collar area. I took a rectangle from the body front/back and cut these into straps and then just pitched the rest.

From there - I divided the strips into 6 piles (I had a lot of t-shirts) - then divided the piles into three piles. The blog post from Pinterest suggested twisting them together but I know my dogs - twisting would take about 30 seconds to destroy - so I braided.

After braiding - I then tied the pile of strips at each end into a knot as best I could. It wasn't always easy after braiding - the toy was pretty thick - so you have to leave enough to tie. The nice thing is - once you tied - you could pull on the ends and it pulled the whole braid and only made the whole thing tighter.

So there it is - a big ass pile of dog toys! 

I made some longer, some shorter, some thicker, some thinner - wanted to see how they would hold up. 

The dogs really enjoy anything they can fetch - so it was a night well-spent. I even gave a couple to friends. It was also fun to match the colors up - but I didn't pay too much attention to that part of it. 

Once the dogs start tugging on them - a lot of strings loosen up - so I was able to tie it into a circle and make it last a little longer.

All in all I liked this craft quite a bit - it would have been nice to have a buddy for this one - my hands were SORE!

I'd love to see some new things on Pinterest - feel free to share your username in the comments so I can check them out!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Oxymoron of the Day: Healthy Donut @Busken

So this journey with Weight Watchers is not an easy one - I'm faced every day with choices, choices, choices! My head says lettuce, my butt says cheese!

Well another thing my butt wants is donuts! I mean - duh - who doesn't?! Well thankfully - the generous folks at Busken Bakery have come up with a solution:

That's right these heart-shaped wonder donuts are only 4 Weight Watchers points! Thank you Busken for the Lite-Hearted Donut!!!!

They dropped some off at our office on Monday just in time for the Monday all-staff meeting and it was great. Everybody groaned, "HEATHER - DONUTS???" and I exclaimed, "No they're healthy!!!" (As healthy as a donut can be.)

They provided the nutritional info and it's healthier than toast & jam! Woohoo!

Busken has these at their stores but they are also doing something fun for the next month! They're having a pop-up store in OTR. It starts this Friday February 15 and will be every Thursday, Friday & Saturday through mid-March! It's at 1218 Vine Street in OTR starting at 7pm until Midnight/1am.

Also - something I love is another donut shop that serves them warm - well I popped one of these in the microwave this morning for 10 seconds - PERFECTION! My coworkers also mentioned how filling these were. It is a great glazed donut - and 4 WW points - gotta love that!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Weight Watchers Goulash - 7 Points Plus!

I've been doing pretty well on my Weight Watchers trek - I lost 10 pounds in the first month! That said, I'm cooking a lot more and packing my lunch a LOT more. One of my favorite comfort foods growing up was Goulash (well at least that's what my Dad called it). So I was really happy to find something similar on Weight Watchers site - Cheesy Chili-Mac.

First you cook up some ground beef and onion - I added mushrooms as well. Knowing I would be adding a lot to the pot - I used my stock pot.

Then you add tomatoes, tomato juice and a few spices...

Next throw in beans and cooked macaroni! I used Quinoa Macaroni to add some whole grain goodness to the recipe. I also skipped the cheese - mostly because I didn't have any!

If you make according to the recipe - it's 7 pts/serving. It's a great comfort food recipe that went through quite a few lunches as well.

Cheesy Chili-Mac



Ingredients

Instructions

  • Coat a large skillet with cooking spray; set over medium-high heat. Cook beef and onion until meat is browned, stirring and breaking up meat with a spoon as it cooks, about 10 minutes; drain off fat.
  • Stir in undrained tomatoes and their juice, tomato juice, chili peppers and chili powder; bring mixture to a boil.
  • Stir in macaroni and beans; return to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until macaroni is tender, about 15 minutes. Spoon chili into bowls and sprinkle with cheese. Yields about 1 cup chili and 1 tablespoon cheese per serving.




Monday, February 11, 2013

Marathon Monday: A Load of Fun Stuff

Blogging fills my email box with so many things that I'd like to share - I decided to have one Marathon Monday post and just share a whole bunch of them with you! 

First I was asked to be one of the Celebrity Judges for the Wise Temple Chicken Soup Cook-off! And thus - had to pose for a photo with a chicken. Special thanks to the guy that took the photo - and actually knew who I was!

Congrats to the winners of this 9th Annual Cook-off that has the proceeds benefitting a lot of the charity work that the Wise Temple does. In the Pro- Division the winners were: Kroger, Parkers and Izzy's! The Amateur Division winners were: the Excellent Youth Group of Wise, Hannah Berger (17 years old!!!) and Jay & Angela Eriseman (Jay is one of the familiar face chefs from the Party Source). Special congrats to Hannah - that Coconut Curry Thai Chicken Soup was really great and won the People's Choice!

This event is open to the public - so make sure you think about attending next year or find out more about all the great work they do! 

Next fun thing is the Art of Food at the Carnegie in Covington! This is a really cool event where all the art in the gallery is food-related. It's either made of food, about food or looks like food. Friday March 1 is the opening night gala (which you can buy tickets to) - on that night the best chefs in Cincinnati fill the Carnegie and give you amazing food. If you can't make the opening night - the Carnegie is FREE and you can see the art through March 21.

I'm now writing for NKY Live magazine! It's available at Kroger and CVS in the Northern Kentucky area and is run by the awesome folks at Class X Radio (a locally owned Classic Rock station). These guys are great to work with! The new issue should be in stores this week - so make sure you stop by and grab one. I have 2 articles in this month's issue! 



Last up - a big thank you to Green BEAN Delivery for donating more than 2 tons of food to Freestore Foodbank. I've worked with both organizations before and they are both wonderful. If you haven't heard of Green BEAN - check them out - they do home delivery of fruits & veggies. 

How did they do this amazing feat? Well their members donated to their Constant Canned Food Drive by placing donations in their bins when they got picked up by GBD. Then GBD matched the donations pound for pound! Pretty awesome stuff! 

That's all I've got for this week - but whew - I'm tired from it all! And something fun for you - check out my giveaway of a $25 Skyline Gift Card

Friday, February 8, 2013

It's a Valentine's Giveaway from Skyline!

I don't know about you - but our office has ongoing chili wars!! That said, the powers-that-be that usually make the lunch time decisions are strongly in the blue & yellow category which means this girl on Weight Watchers had to find something she could eat! 

Luckily - I discovered the Buffalo Chicken Salad (no ranch dressing) - it's a fine salad - lettuce, chicken, a little cheese and a load of buffalo sauce. Nothing really that revolutionary or ground breaking. What is amazing - 5 points. 1.2.3.4.5. FIVE. Seriously - a filling lunch at a restaurant for 5 points is UNHEARD OF. If you're not familiar with Weight Watchers - good for you - but for me - this is heaven. 

That said - sometimes - depending on the rest of my day - I get the salad and a cheese coney. Ah - the cheese coney. So delicious. I'm drooling a little just thinking about it (if only I had 10 points left for one right now). 

Now this coming week is Valentine's Day - and ladies - we're not the only ones that deserve gifts this holiday! 


What better gift for the guy in your life than a Skyline Gift Card?! I honestly can't think of one guy that wouldn't love to have this on his pillow Thursday morning!? Can you?

And - if your Valentine is miles away (or lives in the 'Nati and you don't) - you can buy them online and send them! 

If you don't have a Valentine - don't despair - you could still end up with a Skyline Card in your mailbox! I'm giving away a $25 Skyline Gift Card for one of you! You can answer a question, share a Tweet or like me on Facebook!

The giveaway runs Sat Feb 9 - Valentine's Day!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Food Hussy Review: Goldfinch Restaurant

After our Scenic Road Rally - we were starving! Luckily just a couple of minutes away we found the Goldfinch Family Restaurant! 

It's a fairly standard family diner with a giant cow out front. The folks that own it are very Catholic as well - there's a picture of the Pope and Mother Theresa inside! haha

In my world of Weight Watchers - I went for the vegetable soup. It was good - lots of veggies and a rich warm tomato base. Definitely not soup out of a can...

Larry went for a Pastrami sandwich - there was a LOT of meat on it. He was only able to eat half and the fries were good as well. 

I went for a Veggie Melt - veggies are free on Weight Watchers - but I was dying for some cheese so I made my choices as wisely as I could. I know it wasn't the "diet plate" - but I was cold and hungry - and hey - it must all be working - I've lost 10 pounds!

Why Should You Go? It's nothing that special - but I also didn't try their pies (omg they looked so good) - but it's clean and has a good menu and good service. So for a diner in rural Indiana - it's a good stop! I'm always one to stop at a local place rather than a chain (Arby's is practically next door) - so if you're in Brookville for the lake, the canoes, the slopes or the wolves - check it out!

Goldfinch Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Road Trip; No dancing - but I did Play With Wolves

I'm always looking for fun things for Larry and I to do on our drives - whether it be finding a route from a book, a site that we just have to see or - in this case - animals I must pet! 

I ran across Scenic Road Rallies somewhere in the interwebs and was really excited to check this out! They specialize in road rallies (aka scavenger hunts in cars) for 4x4 - at the time - we had one...but now we have a teeny tiny hybrid! That said - they do some of their rallies for just regular cars - so we checked one out.  

They run these rallies every month or so and it costs about $15/car - you can take however many in your car you want. We chose this one because of the end point - a wolf rescue!! Um HELL YEAH! 

We met up at a school parking lot in Indiana - the rally is very organized - they have hand outs, release forms and even took a group photo at the start! Our rally didn't have the scavenger hunt portion because we were ending at the rescue...we're planning on trying one that does down the road. 


Here's the pic of Larry and I at the starting line in the hybrid. I have to say - this may be one of the best pictures of us ever taken. He's so handsome...wowza! 

On the rally - you get a detailed tour guide that gives you non-GPS directions for a special route. These are "turn at the big dead tree" directions - so you have to have 2 people at least and you have to really pay attention! This is a church on a side road that you never ever would have seen - or maybe a one-room schoolhouse. I can't remember and we had to give our tour sheets back at the end of the day. 

This is a cow. (No sh*t Heather...we know that.) He was all by himself - just staring at us - we had to take his picture. 

Here I am at the Little Cedar Grove Baptist Church - which is the oldest church standing in Indiana. 

This was actually open to the public - so we went inside. I have to say - it was very "Little House on the Prairie" - I would love to step back in time and attend church there. It was just a different time. Now there are signs up asking people to not have sex inside. (SERIOUSLY!)

Next up was the big reason for our rally - the Wolf Creek Habitat in Brookville, IN. It's a really cool place - the website has a ton of information. The habitat itself is free if you want to check out the animals from the observation deck. There is also a gift shop and a very educated and involved staff. 

So after you learn a little about the sanctuary and find out the rules - you head in. If you visit - check their site for the rules and the information about what to wear. Basically - you're going to get jumped on - so dress appropriately. We were allowed to take our phones in - but had to be cautious with them. 

The main rule: If the wolf thinks it's his - IT'S HIS. 

Once inside the pen - it was great - these big beautiful creatures were just hanging out with you. These two cuddled up in the sun and took a nap.

At first we sat down and a few of the wolves came over to say hi - the first few minutes are basically just letting them sniff you. I was a bit worried they might smell my dogs - but the staff assured me that wouldn't affect them at all. They're not dogs - even though - that's what you think when you're in there - "oh they're big dogs!"

After a few minutes with them - we were allowed to get up and walk over to the platform they like to hang out on. They LOVE their bellies rubbed and to have their heads scratched. About half of them have been there since birth and half were rescued. The bottle-fed ones are much more sociable with people. If you have a pony tail - don't be surprised if you get a new hair style by the end of the day. :-) They like to rub their scent on you - almost more cat-like at times.

I had so much fun! The encounter with the wolves is $20 per person (and they do take credit cards). It was just so cool to pet these beautiful animals. We also learned a lot about their behaviors and their personalities. There was another area with younger and WAY more rambunctious ones - but I didn't feel comfortable taking photos in there. Those kids were rough!

They don't really pose - but we had a great time with them and got some interesting shots. I never felt "in danger" - they really were like big dogs as far as petting them and their behavior towards people.

If you're thinking about visiting - I would advise a cool day - with all that fur they can tend to get agitated more quickly in the heat. We were in with the wolves for probably an hour - so it's a good amount of time! (I was afraid it would be 2 minutes in and out.)

Overall - the Scenic Road Rally was fun and we'd do it again - especially for the Scavenger Hunt version. And the Wolf Habitat - if you're an animal lover - go! It was great.