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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Restaurant Review: Rusty Bucket & Giveaway!

I've had this gift card for the Rusty Bucket basically burning a hole in my pocket all summer - just waiting to be used. But when you live in Mt Healthy - going to Rookwood for dinner requires planning - which I'm just not good at apparently. 

But then I got this postcard in the mail that the new Rusty Bucket was opening in Mason! While Mason isn't really close - it gave me the kick in the pants I needed to at least make a reservation and plan dinner. (They're open to the public now BTW.)

Upon arrival I realized that their new location was in the location of the former Polo Grille (um I didn't even know they'd closed!). The Polo Grille was a nice place but Rusty Bucket completely gutted and renovated the space. There are lots of TVs all around the restaurant as well as the bar.

The server asked us what we wanted to drink and Larry couldn't decide. I was so puzzled - I pointed to this on the menu and said "Really - you can't decide?!"

Yeah - cuz this is his FAVORITE - especially on draft! It's kind of a crap shoot when you order it because it tastes different all the time - depending on the barrel - it can have a lot sweeter taste. 

Larry decided to steak it up with the Tavern Steak ($18.29) which is an 18 oz Porterhouse, cast iron seared and served on top of fries. I have to say - we both gasped a bit when this came to the table - it's GINORMOUS! 

It was a good steak - not as tender as a ribeye - but tasty nonetheless and definitely one that came home for a great next day lunch!

I went for the Pesto Chicken Pasta ($12.99) - I really wanted one of their new Blue Plate Specials (the Pasta Bolognese is a family recipe) - but they're only available on their specific day of the week. (Note to self: go on a Tuesday) This has spaghetti with white wine, garlic, spinach, roasted tomatoes, mushrooms, olive oil and then topped with pesto & chicken. I liked this a lot as well and but it was a bit salty.

In addition to the Blue Plate Specials, they also have new apps (mussels and hummus!) and also a new burger - the Double Bacon Burger (how good does that sound?!). And while this is a chain - it started in Columbus, OH so it's almost local
And yes - you can get your picture taken with a giant pickle. How can you not love that?

As a welcome to the neighborhood, Rusty Bucket gave me a $25 gift card to giveaway for all of you! Just let me know what menu item you would like to try and enter away!

Why Should You Go? I like the Bucket - it's got a friendly atmosphere and they did pretty well for service on a full night. It took a while for the 2nd half of our service but all in all - not too bad. It's a family-friendly place as well and the portion size is very large.



a Rafflecopter giveaway



Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Product Review: Give a Doggy a Bone Dog Treats


I tend to stick with the same old same old when it comes to my dogs - I've just heard that changing foods isn't always good for their tummies. When it comes to treats - mine go wild over Meaty Bone - but once in a while - I splurge. 

On a recent trip to Jungle Jim's I came across these - and let me tell you - how could I NOT get these?! My dogs are total divas and they're pink & glittery!

Then I find out Give a Doggy a Bone is a local company in Hamilton - even better! I think it's cool that Jungle Jim's had a whole wall of treats from a local vendor. They're obviously more expensive than the ginormous bag of Meaty Bones - but it's a fun treat.

Wiener wasn't so sure about these and to be honest they are REALLY hard. I had to break these up into smaller pieces for him and then he enjoyed them. They do have smaller sizes in different varieties - I would get those next time for the Ween-Dog.

Mysty devoured in her normal 2.3 seconds. So yeah - she liked them.

All in all - they liked them - they were just a little hard for the little guy. They sell them across the country and ship as well - so even if you're not in Cincinnati - you can have some Diva Treats for your Diva!!!

(For the record - I bought & paid for these myself and just thought they were so cute - I had to blog about them!)





Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Road Trip: Cincinnati Museum Center's Ultimate Dinosaurs!

The folks at the Cincinnati Museum Center invited me in to check out their RAWRsome new Dinosaur exhibit! The exhibit is in place through January 5 - so it seems you have plans to make! 

First - let's take a moment to appreciate the beauty that is Cincinnati Museum Center. The amazing art deco structure against a blue sky even Photoshop can't create. What a beautiful day!

First we checked out the Dinosaurs: Giants of Patagonia at the OMNIMAX. It was really cool - I like the OMNIMAX movies because they're not too long and you learn so much! The way they brought the dinosaurs to life was amazing. This was a really fun show.

If you haven't been - it's a 5 story high theater that surrounds you. It's amazing! There's a little dizzy factor to get over - but nothing too distracting and so worth it.

Ticket prices for the OMNIMAX theater range from $4.50-$7.50 and can be purchased separate from any museum entrance fees.

After the movie, we headed downstairs to the Ultimate Dinosaurs: Giants from Gondwana exhibit. There was a great mix of the story of dinosaurs, real fossils, dinosaurs and interactive exhibits.

I remember when I was a kid - I was OBSESSED with dinosaurs! I had models that I put together, posters, toys, puzzles, books and everything else a poor kid could get her hands on. Stegasaurus was my favorite - yes - this nerd had a favorite dinosaur.

And it was fun to see how interactive the exhibits were - they were all positioned for kids to get as much out of them as adults. Seeing a young girl fascinated by these amazing creatures as much as I was definitely took me back! 

 I would love for a 9 year old me to come across this exhibit and see a REAL FOSSIL EGG!!! Can you imagine?!

The Giants of Gondwana exhibit is also able to be visited separate from the rest of the museums and tickets range from $7-$15.

Also before you go - if you have an iPhone - be sure to download the Dino app - you'll be able to take 3D pics with the dinosaurs walking around you! But download BEFORE you go - reception in there is spotty and slow!

Sunday when I visited there was an extra bonus - the traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall was at the Museum Center as well.  It was free with a donation box on entry.

 It was obvious that the folks visiting it really had stories that connected them to it. I think it's nice that they have something that travels so that folks that can't get to DC still get a chance to see this and heal.

Whether or not you have a young one OBSESSED with dinosaurs as much as I was - it's really a great exhibit and the OMNIMAX is always entertaining and informational. Thanks again to the Cincinnati Museum Center for the admission.

And while you're there - check out the free tours of Union Terminal and find out a little more about Cincinnati history!









Monday, October 28, 2013

Cheesy Bacon-Stuffed Sliced Baked Potatoes & Colossal King Crab with Clarified Butter

I've seen these accordion sliced baked potatoes all over Pinterest lately and finally got around to making them! I decided to put a little extra goodness in there with bacon - how can you go wrong with that? 

It's easy enough - so it seems - you slice a baking potato almost the whole way through and you want to have the slices about the same width so it bakes evenly. It's a little tricky to get it the right depth so they spread apart but you get the hang of it pretty quickly.

Then I cut up 6 pieces of bacon into little rectangles and slipped them in between the potato slices.

Then I had a butter explosion. The recipe called for drizzling with melted butter - luckily I had the butter on a plate - that would have not been fun to clean up. 

I drizzled the melted butter over the potatoes and popped them in the oven for 50 minutes.

We had recently also gone to Jungle Jim's and picked up some Colossal King Crab - this was massive!!! Of course - 1 pound was $30 and that 1 leg was almost a whole pound! We typically go to Red Lobster for King Crab but decided we would give it a whirl at home and decided to go big AND go home!

Cooking crab at home was a lot easier than I thought! The guy at JJ said that the crab is already cooked and just needs to be heated up. You can steam, boil or bake it. We opted to steam it - we have a 5 qt stock pot and put a steamer insert in to get the crab leg above the water a bit. I did have to break off the knuckle of the leg and then bent the rest of the leg to fit in the pot.

Then I googled to find out how to make the drawn/clarified butter - turns out - it's just melted butter with the foam removed. So I melted butter and then used a spoon to skim the foam off the top. Then poured the clarified butter into dishes for each of us.

After baking for 50 minutes, I added shredded cheese and then popped it back in for 15 minutes.

All in all - it was a good dinner! The crab was delicious - and knowing I have seen King Crab on sale at Kroger for $9.99/pound - we'll be having it a lot more in the future. The potatoes were pretty good - although I think next time I would forego the bacon and bake the cheese a little less. I might even slice little pieces of cheese and slip between - but only put them in for the last five minutes. I thought slicing the potatoes might speed up the cooking time - but it didn't - still took an hour. Next time I think I'll pre-bake the potatoes in the microwave to speed up the whole process.

Cheesy Bacon Stuffed Sliced Baked Potatoes

Adapted from Money Saving Mom

Ingredients:
2 baking potatoes
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons melted butter
Cheddar cheese (either shredded or sliced)

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 425°F
2. Scrub and rinse potatoes. Slice them evenly but NOT all the way through.
3. Spray baking dish and fan out the potatoes into the dish. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle melted butter over the top.
4. Bake potatoes for 55 minutes. Then remove from oven and either top with shredded cheese or slip cheese between the slices. Bake for 5-10 more minutes.

Steamed Crab & Clarified Butter

Ingredients:

1-2 pounds King Crab
1/2 stick Butter

Instructions:
1. Boil water in a large pot with steamer insert in place.
2. Add crab legs and steam for 4 minutes.
3. While crab is steaming, melt 1/2 stick of butter in the microwave in a measuring cup. When melted - there will be a white "foam" on the top. Use a spoon and skim that foam off the top and discard. The majority of the butter remaining will be clear. Pour into a small bowl and serve with steamed crab.






Sunday, October 27, 2013

Restaurant Review: McDonald's Mighty Wings

There are a lot of social networks out there - some better than others. One of the networks I'm a passive member of is Klout. It measures your social media footprint and sometimes offers up perks based on your interest areas. 

I recently got a $5 perk to try the Might Wings at McDonalds. It's not a big one by any means - but we got to McD's now and again - so we might as well try them.

I got 3 wings - a meal with fries & a drink was about $4. The wings are very large and were all the "leg" portion of the wing. They also offered up a sauce to go along with them.

Why Should You Go? While the Mighty Wings are large - they're a bit dry - which I guess could also be interpreted as not greasy. They are spicy though - so be forewarned! I was glad I had ranch and soda to wash these down. I wouldn't get them again - but it was nice of Klout to let me try them!

McDonald's on Urbanspoon



Friday, October 25, 2013

Recipe: Fun & Spooky Pizza with Parrano Cheese

I'm very excited to get to partner with Parrano Cheese this morning on Fox 19 morning news to share fun and spooky Halloween pizza with you! If you're visiting for the first time after seeing me on Fox 19 - thanks and welcome!


If you're looking for something fun to make for an upcoming Halloween party - I've got just the thing! We've got a Frightening Frankenstein and a Pumpkin (Pizza) Pie that are sure to bring compliments from kids and adults alike!

As you can see - these pizzas are really about the design and assembly but they taste good too!

For Frankenstein - there are a couple of different crust options that are rectangles - you can use the pizza crust in a can, naan, flatbread or make your own and shape. I decided to try the flatbread since it was pre-made and I have a pretty busy schedule.


After that, take on the role of Doctor Frankenstein and put together the spookiest, creepiest Frankenstein pizza your imagination can conjure up! I had on hand a paring knife and a plethora of vegetables: onions, black olives, orange, yellow and green peppers as well as pepperoni.



To get the green for the sauce - I combined alfredo with pesto and then sprinkled Parrano cheese on top. Then layered the toppings with onions & olives for eyes, pepperoni for hair, a pepperoni & green pepper mouth, green pepper ears and pepper & olives for scars.

Next up the Pumpkin (Pizza) Pie -


Then I decided to conjure up a Halloween pizza of my own - and the ridges from the peppers were the inspiration for the Pumpkin (Pizza) Pie! One of the tricks I learned while watching my calories is that tortilla shells make a great QUICK pizza crust - combine that with Turkey Pepperoni and this is almost healthy! And if you're using small tortillas - the kids each make their own individual pies.


I used orange pepper rings around the edges of the tortilla. Then I added the green pepper strips for the stem. I made the face out of pepperoni. This would be super-fun for kids - I can imagine how much fun they would have making their creations. And Moms - there are 2 huge bonuses to my Pumpkin (Pizza) Pie:

1. Kids will happily eat their veggies!
2. It's less messy than the insides of an ACTUAL pumpkin!

For this I just used regular sauce and covered up with cheddar (or colby) & Parrano cheese to stick with the orange of the pumpkin.



I hope you enjoy the spooky and fun pizzas - I'd love for you to share photos of pizzas you make!


I really like using Parrano cheese on these pizzas - it's similar to Parmigiana Reggiano with the nutty flavor but has a smoothness like Gouda. Just grating a bit of this on top is delicious - and break off a little piece while you're at it and try that too! Yum!

You can get Parrano cheese at Whole Foods - and today (10/25) they're having a 25% off sale on cut cheese - so if these recipes sound good and you want to try Parrano - stop by the Whole Foods in Mason.



Flatbread Frankenstein Pizza

1 flatbread
1/2 cup pesto
1/2 cup alfredo pasta sauce
1/4 cup Parrano cheese
Turkey Pepperoni
Green, Red, Orange Peppers
Onion (rings)
Black olives

1. Preheat oven to 375
2. Mix pesto & alfredo in a bowl and then spread on your flatbread
3. Top with cheeses - stay light on the cheese so we can still see the green of the sauce
4. Add pepperoni triangles for hair, colored pepper for nose, onion/olives for eyes, peppers for ears, pepperoni for mouth, green pepper for teeth, green pepper/olive for scars/bolts
5. Bake for 10 minutes until cheese starts to brown slightly

Pumpkin (Pizza) Pies 

Tortillas
Orange pepper rings
Pizza sauce
Cheddar or colby cheese
Parrano cheese
Pepperoni
Black Olives

1. Preheat oven to 375
2. Lay tortillas on cookie sheet and cover lightly with pizza sauce
3. Top lightly with orange cheese and then sprinkle a little grated Parrano cheese for extra flavor (it makes your orange pumpkin speckled!)
4. Make fun face shapes with pepperoni and olives
5. Bake for 10 minutes until cheese starts to melt and brown slightly

Recipe inspiration here

Disclosure: Parrano Cheese set up the segment on Fox 19 and provided the cheese for the segment. Whole Foods provided groceries for the rest of the recipe.

Here's the video from this morning:
FOX19.com-Cincinnati News, Weather




Thursday, October 24, 2013

DIY Lemon Sugar Scrub

A couple of weeks ago - we got together for a fun day of Pinterest crafting and decided to do bath products. We made Bath Fizzies, Lip Gloss and a Sugar Scrub.

Besides the girls - we had another helper - Tucker! How can you not love this? It's my favorite thing about DIY Day is that I get to spend a few hours with this guy. 

The sugar scrub was the easiest of the day to put together - it's just three ingredients - stir and jar! We just mixed it up and portioned it out and we were done!

One of the girls actually gave some to her Dad and she just reported back that he wasn't too sure about using some girly scrub - but it really worked. I guess he had something itching his foot for days - he used the scrub and the irritation went away! It's also great for guys that work with their hands to get the dead skin and callouses rubbed away.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

DIY Lemon Sugar Scrub
Adapted from Two Girls Being Crafty

Ingredients (for 12 oz jar)

2.5 cups sugar
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons lemon juice

Instructions

1. Mix
2. Pour

:-)

It takes a while to stir and get the right consistency - you really want them to congeal together and become a mixture. Once you have sealed the containers - the mix will settle and you'll need to shake or stir when you use it.






Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Product Review: Lindt Chocolates

What better way to wake up on a Saturday than to head to a chocolate store for some creamy chocolately goodness! That's exactly what happened to me last weekend - I was invited to the Lindt store at the outlet mall in Monroe

The store is in the outlet mall right off I-75 in Monroe and you can't help but go in when you walk by - the scent of chocolate combined with the bright colors of their signature labels beckons you! 

David, the manager, is there to help you find whatever chocolate is your favorite. He is the chocolate king - whether you want white chocolate, peanut butter, nuts, no nuts or anything else you can think of - he can point you in the right direction. 

Each color signifies a flavor - some are obvious like green = mint - but others are a little more mysterious. Either way - you can easily find out the flavor or just have a surprise with every bite!

And you might think - what new can people do with chocolate? Well Lindt has branched out into chocolate bark now! They just premiered this new product offering in a couple of stores across the country and Cincinnati is one of them!

They now have 6 kinds of chocolate bark that you can buy by the pound:

* Dark Chocolate with Roasted Almond
* Milk Chocolate with Roasted Hazelnut
* Dark Chocolate with Roasted Hazelnut
* Milk Chocolate with Roasted Almonds & Raisins
* Milk Chocolate with Roasted Almond, Hazelnut & Pistachios
* White Chocolate with Cranberry & Pistachio

So you can buy one kind or mix & match and try them all! They're going to be adding flavors as we get closer to the holidays as well!

This is only about half the stack they started with for the week - so this new product is already moving quickly!

The Monroe store is also one of the few with a coffee station. I'm not a coffee fan but David made me an awesome white hot chocolate and wow - it was delicious! Be sure to ask for it when you stop in...good stuff!

Besides all of their regular flavors - they also have specialty holiday flavors - these European pumpkins will only be around for another couple of weeks!

My favorites were definitely the white chocolate - and it's fun when you bite in - knowing it'll be good

but not knowing exactly what you're going to get!

Why Should You Go? It's chocolate - of course you should go! There's something for everyone - and the nice thing is the truffles are small and bite-sized - so you can exercise portion control. Just a bite of chocolate is enough to satisfy that 230pm craving! And the bark was great too - people stopped by my office all week to break off a bite! Good stuff!

Lindt Chocolatier on Urbanspoon



Disclosure: Lindt provided me free chocolate when I visited the store. I ate a lot - but it didn't cloud my judgement - these thoughts are all my own. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

eMeals Honey Lime Chicken and Roasted Potato Greek Salad

I am loving my eMeals.com subscription! It's an online meal planning service - you choose a plan that fits your life (healthy, paleo, classic, etc...) and then you get a weeks worth of recipes every Sunday. Right now I'm on the Kroger Classic Family Plan. There were a couple of great ones this week including Honey Lime Chicken with a Greek Roasted Potato Salad.

First up - the chicken! I put this together before work so it had all day to marinate. Mix lime juice, oil, honey, thyme, rosemary, garlic and black pepper whisk together.

Pop it in a ziploc bag and you're ready! I took three chicken breasts and cut them each into two pieces and plopped them into the bag. I put that in the fridge for the day.


Then when I got home I was able to heat up my grill pan and go! The honey really helped the chicken brown beautifully.

The tanginess of the lime juice was pretty pungent - so if you don't like lime juice - then you might want to cut that back a little. The chicken was juicy and really good.  I have the recipe at the end of this post.



The other nice thing about eMeals.com is that they always provide easy side dishes as well. That's one of the biggest problems for me - I can find entrees to make - but then forget about vegetables! This one had a Greek Potato Salad that was calling my name!


Pop the Kroger roasted red potatoes into the oven to bake while you're chopping and mixing the rest of the salad.


Then, chop up cucumber, tomatoes and kalamata olives...

Then mix with crumbled feta and greek dressing.

Once the potatoes are done - stir them into the mixture and serve with your chicken! The recipe can be chilled or served warm.

The original recipe also called for edamame but I ate too much edamame a few years ago and can't touch the stuff now. That said - I didn't miss it - this is a really hearty salad. We had leftovers of this as well and I took them for lunch to work - it was great chilled as well.

I think I liked the salad a little more than the chicken - but by adjusting the chicken marinade to increase the honey and decrease the lime would probably do the trick for my tastebuds. These were both really simple and that is what's necessary for me on a week night!

Portions listed below serve 2-4

Honey-Lime Chicken

Ingredients:

1 pound chicken breasts cut in half
1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 cup oil
3 Tablespoons honey
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp black pepper

Instructions:

1. Place chicken in a large ziploc bag
2. Whisk together lime juice, oil, honey, thyme, rosemary, garlic and apper
3. Pour marinade over chicken , seal and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours
4. Remove chicken from marinade and discard
5. Grill over coals or cook on grill pan

Greek Roasted Potato Salad

Ingredients:

1/2 of 24 oz bag frozen roasted red potatoes
1 medium cucumber, peeled and diced
1 medium tomato, diced
1/4 red onion, diced
4 oz crumbled feta
2 oz kalamata olives, chopped
1/4 cup Greek salad dressing

Instructions:

1. Bake potatoes according to package directions
2. Toss together cucumber, tomato, onion, feta and olives in a large bowl
3. Pour dressing over salad and toss
4. When the potatoes are ready, add to the mixture and toss
5. Serve warm or refrigerated