Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Recipe: Crock Pot Chicken Teriyaki

We really like rice - it's so simple and easy - especially since we got our Lekue Rice Cooker. What goes good with rice? Chicken Teriyaki! I have bought bottled teriyaki before but decided to make my own this time. The ingredients are pretty basic! 

I had everything in my cupboard already - which is a nice surprise! While I was making my teriyaki - I let the chicken defrost.
  
I always use the crock pot liners - they are such time savers! This recipe is great - you just plop your chicken in (I used boneless skinless thighs) and then pour the sauce on top.

Then, when you come home from work, remove the chicken, and pour the excess sauce into a pan. (Start the rice now too.) Bring it to a boil and add a bit of thickener and heat through.

 While that is heating up - shred your chicken. 

Then mix the chicken into the sauce and you're ready to go! 

And there you have it - Crock Pot Chicken Teriyaki. It was really easy and good too! Much better than the bottled stuff - especially knowing how easy it was to make! I hope you enjoy

Crock Pot Chicken Teriyaki

Ingredients

* 1-2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 1/8 cup soy sauce
* 3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
* 1/2 tsp ground ginger
* 1 tsp minced garlic
* 1/8 tsp pepper
* 2 tsp corn starch
* 2 tsp cold water
* cold rice

Directions

* Place chicken in crockpot on low
* Combine sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, garlic and pepper. Wisk and pour over chicken.
* Cook on low for 4-5 hours until chicken is tender. Remove chicken and set aside.
* Place liquid into a pan and bring to a boil. While heating, shred chicken.
* Combine cornstarch & water and stir into pan of liquid until it is thick.
* Add chicken to sauce and mix well.
* Serve over rice.

Inspiration recipe here.






Monday, December 30, 2013

Restaurant: West Egg, Chicago

Waking up to this view is so special - it doesn't happen very often - so when it does - I just soak it in. I love big cities. Now when I moved to Cincinnati - it seemed like a "big city" - and compared to Cedar Rapids, IA - it is! But Chicago is a BIG CITY. I love the skyscrapers and the hustle & bustle. I could just bathe in it. 

And I'm such a movie nerd - I love being places and remembering "Oh that was in Never Been Kissed!!"

A few of us went to Chicago for a short work trip and got in early one morning - so we decided to have breakfast and then head back to the hotel for a day of working in our PJs looking at the beautiful view before the work summit started. I pulled out my Urbanspoon app and looked up breakfast places in downtown Chicago and came across the West Egg Cafe.

It's a fairly famous diner and both my coworkers were game so off we went. It was a 10 minute walk from our hotel - so not too bad.

Coworker #1 got the biscuits and gravy. I consider myself a connoisseur of the B&G and nearly ordered it myself but I can't order the same thing as someone else at a new restaurant - so I let him have the glory. He did oblige me a bite and they were tasty.

My Whitney-Boo (I have many nicknames for her) ordered this wacky thing and then made all sorts of substitutions with chicken and egg whites and tomatoes. She's so healthy. She thoroughly enjoyed it.

I decided to be as abnormal as possible. I wanted to try something that was special to the West Egg and unique. I went for The Grabowski! There's a smoked polish sausage, split and grilled, then covered with a "special" honey mustard, onions and melted swiss (on the left). It also comes with potatoes, english muffin and two eggs.

It was the sausage that did it for me - I felt like a real Chicagoan eatin sausage fer breakfast!!!! DISCOUNT DAAAAABLE-CHECK! I have to say - the sausage was tasty. The swiss cheese had somewhat solidified when it got to me - so that wasn't my favorite part. But who am I kidding - I practically licked my plate clean.

Why Should You Go? It's a classic diner with fun Chicago specialties. The service was great and our waitress was a lot of fun. She was spunky for an early Tuesday morning breakfast! I loved it and would definitely return.



West Egg Cafe on Urbanspoon



Sunday, December 29, 2013

Restaurant: Red Fox Grill

I love working downtown but I have to say - I have never been blessed with working in the part of downtown where there are an abundance of dining options. On the flip side - I usually have cheap-ish parking! 

I wanted to meet up with a friend for lunch and took the hike up from my valley to where the food is and chose the Red Fox Grill. I forgot to get a pic of the outside - but it's on the corner at 6th & Sycamore. 

Inside it's a very plain, common diner. I'm sure it hasn't changed much in the past 30 years. They definitely don't spend money on the decor ;-)

Kristin got some vegetable soup and she was not happy with it at all. She offered me a taste but after her glowing reco - I left it alone.

She got the fish sandwich and chips...said it was fine - the tartar sauce was slathered on - so if you don't like that - you might want to ask for it on the side.

I went for the chicken salad + bacon double decker and fries. The fries are skinny and were fine. The sandwich was good - and HUGE. I mean this thing was loaded with chicken salad - it was okay - not the best chicken salad - but also pretty plain - which I like. I just want chicken, celery and mayo basically - don't make it fancy AT ALL.

Seriously - there was no way I could eat it! I mean - I managed - but it was not easy! 

Why Should You Go? I doubt I'll go again. Silverglades is close by and far better. And for my oh-so-favorite chicken salad + bacon double decker - I'll head to Silverton Cafe

Red Fox Grill on Urbanspoon




Saturday, December 28, 2013

Restaurant: Brio Tuscan Grille

What happens when 20 coworkers need to eat lunch all at one table? Chaos ensues! Luckily Brio at Newport on the Levee could come to our rescue (even with no reservations). 

Service was a bit slow - which can be expected with this many people. The servers were very nice and did their best but we definitely were there more than an hour. Again - to be expected.

The table was served bread first - everybody liked it - and ate it knowing service might take a while. Good stuff here.

Quite a few of us got a bowl of the lobster bisque ($5.95) to start with. It wasn't cheap but it was good. The bisque was thick and creamy with small pieces of lobster. That was the only thing most of us said was that it would have been nice to have more lobster. That said, every cup was practically licked clean.

My coworker recommended their Sausage, Pepperoni & Ricotta Flatbread ($13.35). It's very crispy and thin - which I liked. I thought it was a little overcooked and could use more ricotta. As you can see - it's minimal. I definitely liked the bisque more than the flatbread.

Why Should You Go? I didn't love my flatbread but the bisque was very good. Most everybody was happy with their entrees and I think the selection they offer is good. They're a bit pricey for a coworker lunch - but when you're trying to seat that many people together - beggars can't be choosers. All in all - I like Brio. I'd just like it better if I was there on a date with my husband.

Brio Tuscan Grille on Urbanspoon




Friday, December 27, 2013

DIY: Craft Night - Wooden Letter Blocks

My friend Rachel has a great holiday tradition that she included me on this year! Every year she meets with her friends and they have a holiday craft night! 

There was quite a group of us - all making different projects. It was great because we were able to help each other, share ideas and also use equipment that we might not all have!

My niece created a burlap door hanger inspired by my polka dot cross that I made a few weeks ago. She made this with her Mom's initial and then painted flowers on one side and polka dots on the other.


She also made this Ode to the Indianapolis Colts for her uncle! Awwww. It will look great in his man cave - I can tell you that!

Another girl had a really cool painted block with this dark midnight blue glitter paint. Then she used our host's Cricut to cut out letters. Who's Preach? Her new horse! Awww!

Then there is my project. The host mentioned ahead of time that her husband could cut wood blocks for us to make name blocks. I chose this project and had just the spot for it. It was really easy. I'll provide the instructions at the end of this post.

 And here's my finished project on the shelf above my kitchen. I really like how it turned out. Here's how I did it:

Wooden Name Blocks

Supplies:

* Wooden blocks 4x6x2
* 2 sheets patterned paper (for background) (for 7 blocks)
* 2 sheets cardstock (plain - for letters)
* Miscellaneous paper for extras (end blocks)
* Modge Podge

Instructions:

* Get your friend's husband to cut the 4x6x2 wooden blocks and sand them down (haha) or buy them if you don't have a friend's husband!
* Cut your patterned paper to fit the wooden blocks (approx 3x4)
* Use double stick tape and stick the patterened paper to the wooden blocks
* If available, use Cricut to cut out letters for your name. If not available you can freehand or use stencils.
* Use narrow double-stick tape to stick the letters to the patterned paper
* Coat the entire project with 1-2 layers of mod podge and let dry







Thursday, December 26, 2013

Recipe: Buffalo Chicken Dip with Frank's RedHot Wings Buffalo Sauce

I'm a member of a few freebie communities where I get to try new products and share them with you! Smiley360 sends out missions for different items and I accepted this one for Frank's RedHot Wings Sauces.

One of my favorite things is Buffalo Chicken Dip - I had it for the first time a few years back at a friend's house on New Years Eve. Shockingly - I'd never had it before. I nearly passed out!!! When this bottle of Frank's came in the mail - I knew what I was going to make. 

It's easy enough to make - mix together cream cheese, shredded chicken, sour cream, cheddar cheese and buffalo wing sauce.

For the chicken - I am NOT a fan of canned chicken. I had a bag of frozen chicken breasts that were old. I threw on a pot of water and boiled up the chicken breasts. I had 5-6 breasts and just cooked them all up. Shredded chicken is such a great standby to have in the fridge for so many quick recipes. I might even make some chicken salad! Once you boil the chicken, let it cool and then shred it with a couple of forks.

There is cheese in the dip - but then of course you have to top it with MORE CHEESE! Mmmmmm!

Twenty minutes later - cheesy, creamy, buffalo-y, chicken goodness! I doctored up this recipe to fit the way I like it: extra chicken, not real spicy, extra cheese. Delicious!

And there you have it - the dogs were so jealous! I made this on Christmas Eve and just noshed away. My niece tried some a bit later and came in the living room and just said "OH. MY. GOD." I think she liked it.

Some recipes also call for ranch or bleu cheese dressing but because those usually have eggs - I subbed sour cream.

You can also enter to win a Tailgate Truck from Frank's RedHot Wings!

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Ingredients:

3 cups shredded chicken
1 package cream cheese, softened
2+ cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup Frank's RedHot Wings Buffalo Sauce (use more if you like it spicy)
1 cup sour cream

Directions:

1. Grease baking dish and preheat oven to 350.
2. Mix together chicken, cream cheese, sour cream, buffalo sauce and 1 cup of cheddar cheese.
3. Spread in baking dish & drizzle top with more buffalo sauce
4. Top with 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
5. Bake for 20 minutes until cheese is melted

Disclosure: Smiley360 provided me the Frank's Red Hot for this post but the opinions are all my own. 


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Restaurant: City Barbecue

Highland Heights is really booming with new development. They have quite a few restaurants popping up right off the exit ranging from Frisch's to Firehouse Subs. 

Another new offering is City Barbeque - with over 20 locations in the Tri-State - they're doing really well. 

It's fast-casual - as so many new places are these days - you order at the counter and then wait at the counter for your food. It was the first day they were open so it was packed!

I have had City Barbeque before and haven't loved it so I thought I would try something different. I went for the Texas Smoked Sausage with coleslaw, macaroni & cheese and cornbread. Unfortunately I again didn't love it. The sausage was tough to bite into an served dry, the slaw was vinegary but without much flavor, the macaroni was mush with no bite left to the noodles and cornbread was dry (with cold butter).

Why Should You Go? I won't be back. Eli's has spoiled me.

City Barbeque on Urbanspoon




Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Recipe: Layered Sweet Potato Casserole

My husband is a carb-aholic and asked for mashed potatoes AND sweet potatoes on a recent family dinner - so I obliged. For sweet potatoes it seems simple enough - but I wanted to make sure I got it right. 

First I peeled the potatoes and then boiled them. After they were done, I sliced them into 1/2" thick slices.

Then I layered the sweet potato slices with dabs of butter and brown sugar. 

Bake and voila - sugary, buttery sweet potato deliciousness! 

This was extremely easy and even more delicious! I adjusted the recipe down for 2-3 people so we wouldn't have leftovers for weeks. This is simple enough you could even break it down for 1 person if you just had a hankering for sweet potato casserole! 

Layered Sweet Potato Casserole 
Serves 2-4 people

Ingredients

2 sweet potatoes
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup brown sugar

Directions

Peel sweet potatoes. Preheat oven to 375. Boil sweet potatoes in large pot for 15 minutes. After fork-tender, remove from the heat and cool. Once cool, slice potatoes into 1/2" thick slices. Layer in a greased casserole dish with pats of butter and brown sugar. Be sure to end with butter & brown sugar on top. Bake for 30-40 minutes.

Adapted from Mostly Homemade Mom





Monday, December 23, 2013

Secret Ingredient Chili!

This post brought to you by Carton Smart. All opinions are 100% mine.

So I'm in Cincinnati and here - it's been a coooooold winter! That said - all I've wanted was comfort food for dinner. There's no better comfort food than CHILI!

I really wanted this chili to be unique so I decided to add a secret ingredient (not shown above)! I had some folks guessing on Facebook about it and they were STUMPED! I finally had to give a pretty obvious clue: It's a fruit that an make you happy, sad or even scared - BOO!

Did you figure it out? It's PUMPKIN! In Cincinnati Chili we have chocolate & cinnamon - so I figured pumpkin might be a good ingredient as well - to add a little sweetness without being overpowering - as well as add more nutrition.   

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Besides sneaking extra nutrients into food, I also like to be conscious of our recycle bin during the holidays! We have the big huge giant recycle bin and yet it is full every week! The folks at Pacific Food & Tetra Pak are trying to help that by producing lots of great foods you use every day in cartons instead of cans. These are great because there is a lot less waste with these. Rinse them and you can recycle them too! (They have 60% less waste than cans.)

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Cartons use 1/3 of the packaging of cans and they're made of 70% paper - it all goes together to make you #CartonSmart. I like them too because they're much more stackable and efficient in the cupboard than cans of all different shapes & sizes. 

This recipe for Chili only called for 1/2 cup of the pumpkin puree - so I was able to reclose it and save the rest for pancakes or muffins for Christmas morning. 

I made some corn muffins to go along with the chili and it was a great comforting dinner for these cold winter nights! I hope you'll give my secret ingredient a try - maybe see if folks in your family can guess! 

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How are you going to Be Carton Smart this holiday season? Do you recycle your wrapping paper? Buy cartons for products? (You can also get a lot of other foods in cartons - check out Pacific Foods for more!)

Looking for more info - Follow #CartonSmart on Pinterest or Tweet @CartonSmart

 

SECRET INGREDIENT CHILI (PUMPKIN)

 

INGREDIENTS

 
    1. 2 tsp olive oil
    2. 1 lb 96% lean ground beef
    3. 1/2 large onion, diced
    4. 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
    5. 3 cloves garlic, minced
    6. 1 (15 oz) cans kidney beans
    7. 14 oz low-sodium V-8 juice
    8. 1 (28 oz) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
    9. 1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
    10. 1/2 cup frozen corn
    11. 1/2 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
    12. 1 Tbsp chili powder
    13. 1 Tbsp cumin
    14. 2 tsp salt

 

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Once hot, add the beef. Brown the meat until no longer pink.
  2. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook an additional minute.
  3. Stir in beans, tomato juice, tomatoes, corn, pumpkin, and seasonings; stir. Reduce heat to low and simmer chili for one hour, stirring every 10-15 minutes.

 

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