Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Products I Love!

Sometimes I try things and I just need to tell someone how much I love them - that's today! 

I love the idea of pretzel buns but so many times they're HARD! (Wendy's - I'm talking to you.) I like a soft pretzel and when I saw this little package of joy tucked away - I knew I'd found what I was looking for. Yeah for Aunt Millie's Pretzel Buns! Aunt Millie's has great products and - sure enough - these were just what I liked. They were soft, buttery and delicious. I also love that they come in a four-pack - so I don't have to make burgers 3x in one week to use them all before they go bad! (I found these at Kroger.)

Also at Kroger - I was originally offered a promotion to try these Seasoned Pork Carnitas for free with my Kroger coupons. I thought - okay - I'll try them once. ZOMG AMAZING! They are in my cart at least twice/month!

Why so amazing?! They're in a container that you can just take off the cardboard wrap you see here and then poke a couple holes and pop in the microwave. The thing is - NOBODY will know they were microwaved! The pork comes out juicy and super tender - everybody will think you had this braising all day.

And you'll serve them up some tacos knowing it only took you a few minutes to get dinner on the table!

So there you go - a couple of things I've tried recently that I loved! Let me know if there's something I should try!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Recipes & Video: Taco Chili & Queso Dip with Red Gold Tomatoes

Last Sunday I was invited to Fox19 to make some of my home-gating specialties for game day! I was eager to share and include some of my favorite Red Gold tomatoes too!

Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV


Taco Soup 

1 pound ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 package Ranch seasoning
1 package Taco seasoning
2 cups water
2 cans Red Gold Tomatoes
1 can kidney beans
1 can black beans
2 cups frozen corn

Brown ground beef. Add all ingredients to crock pot and simmer on high for 4 hours. 

Carlos O'Johnson Queso Dip

1/4 lb chorizo
1/3 cup onion, diced
8 oz Velveeta, cubed
4 oz cream cheese, cubed
1 small can Red Gold mild tomatoes

* Saute chorizo and onion in skillet on medium and break sausage into very small pieces. If using links with casing - cut open casing and just saute sausage from inside. Once browned, drain on paper towel.
* Place chorizo/onion in the bottom of your small slow cooker. Then add the remaining ingredients.
* Cook on low for 1 hour.
* Stir & serve!

And be sure to enter the Red Gold Crock-Pot-a-Day Giveaway!!!

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Red Gold but all opinions are my own. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Recipe: Jalapeno Popper Chicken

I'm a sucker for chicken casserole dishes - they're easy, saucy and just plain good. When I saw this one - I knew I had to make it! 

 Jalapeno Popper Chicken!!!

I'm not a big jalapeno fan but this looked too good to not try. It is also easy! The crunchy topping on it makes the dish! You'll love it!

I bought three chicken breasts at Kroger but they were HUGE so I cut each of them in half to be sure they would cook in a decent time. First step is to season your chicken with salt & pepper and pop in the oven.

Every cooking show stresses the importance of seasoning - so I went to town with my salt & pepper grinder and seasoned the heck out of the bird.


While the chicken is pre-baking, you make your topping. I diced half an onion and one jalapeno and then sauteed it in butter. While letting that cool - I mixed up cream cheese, sour cream and cheddar cheese. After you stir that together, add in your jalapeno/onion mixture and stir again.

Remove the chicken from the oven after 30 minutes...

Top the chicken with your jalapeno/cream cheese mixture and then back in the oven for 10 minutes. You'll be drooling by this point - I promise.

 While that's baking - make your crunchy topping. This is a tried and true favorite for crunchy topping. Crushed Ritz & cheddar cheese + melted butter. Yum.

 I sprinkled the Ritz/cheese over the top and then drizzled the entire casserole with 1/2 stick of melted butter. Yum Yum Yum. Then back in the oven for 10-15 more minutes.

Out comes a delicious, crispy, buttery, creamy, spicy, cheesy dish of goodness. I'm not sure there's anything better!!!

Jalapeno Popper Chicken

Ingredients

3 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
1 jalapeno, diced (add more if you want more spice)
¼ cup of white onion, diced
4-ounce plain cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup of sour cream
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
½ cup crushed savory crackers (we used Ritz)
4 tablespoons of butter, melted
Salt and pepper

Directions

1. Begin by preheating the oven to 425 F.
2. Place chicken (lightly seasoned with salt and pepper) in a casserole dish. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
3. During this time, you can prepare the first layer of topping. Saute the onions and jalapenos in butter and set aside.
4. In a mixing bowl mix cream cheese, sour cream and 1 cup of cheddar cheese together. Then add your onion & jalapeno mixture and mix.
5. Remove your chicken breasts from the oven and spread the topping on them. Return them to the oven at 350 degrees for an additional ten minutes.
6. During this time, mix your crunchy topping. Combine the crackers, 1 cup cheddar and melted butter. Sprinkle the mixture on top of the chicken. Return the chicken to the oven for an additional 10-15 minutes until the topping is golden.
Recipe adapted from Meet Kristy
Looking for other smothered chicken dishes? Check these out:







Thursday, September 25, 2014

Restaurant Review: Spread Buffet @ Horseshoe Casino (+ the Fray!)

Recently - the Horseshoe Casino invited me to come check out their Spread Buffet. I've been to every other restaurant (Margaritaville, Bobby's Burger Palace, Cafe Italia, Jack Binion's) - so it was about time I experienced the buffet - right? 

This is not the casino buffet of old. There was everything imaginable! It's very pretty as well. A server takes care of your drinks and dish clearing. They do have a bar but I think you have to go up to the bar for alcohol - otherwise the soft drinks are included.

There are seven different cuisines at the Spread Buffet: Rhineland, Asian, Italian, Heartland, Mexican, Marketplace and Dessert. I was sure to sample them ALL (for journalistic purposes of course)! The pizza is the same as is served at Cafe Italia - and I like it for sure - very thin crust. There is peel & eat shrimp for days. Our friend Dan said the fish tacos were his favorite thing on the whole buffet. We were starting off on a good foot for sure. 

Then - the meat! there was fried chicken, bbq chicken, popcorn shrimp and the churrasco meat like you see at that expensive Brazilian steakhouse. I only tried the shrimp - but I think I ate half that pan. I had actually gone through once and then found the Rhineland area - and was so excited SHRIMP!!!! I love that stuff.

There's also a lot of "home cooking" selections. The pot roast was DELICIOUS! I wish I could get their recipe - it fell apart - so good. And the sauce was just as good as the beef. I'm seriously jonesing for it! I also tried a couple of meatballs - delicious! They were moist and not too heavy. Yum! They had a wide variety of fresh breads and rolls - once I told Larry there were pretzel sticks - he was on it! Then if you want something simple - you can get a fish sandwich or cheeseburger as well - something for everyone for sure!

And then - my happy place - dessert world. There is Graeter's ice cream, made-to-order crepes and every little happy dessert you can think of. My favorites by a landslide were the chocolate mousse (top) and the creme brulee - it was perfect creme brulee. I might have eaten three of them. Maybe.

All in all - I loved our dinner at Spread Buffet - we definitely left full (so so full!!!!) and I would go definitely go again - although it's hard to turn down Bobby's Burger :-) The prices at the buffet range from $15.99 (Total Rewards members get a small discount) - $27.99 (weekend night, no TR card).

But our night wasn't over...

We then got to go see The Fray at the Shoe (the front lawn)! We were lucky enough to get to watch the show from the patio at Margaritaville that overlooks The Shoe. This is the way to watch a concert! You're up above everybody and the patio has free drinks and free food. Yeah - pretty awesome. I'm not sure what the charge is for this - but for a good show - it's worth it! No standing, no fighting to see, loved it. 

Why Should You Go? I liked it and definitely found plenty of good options that were REALLY tasty. For the price, I'm not sure how often I'll be back. If I was doing a mid-afternoon lunch/dinner - it's definitely worth it. The concert was also a blast! The Fray was the last show of the summer but they'll be back next summer with a whole new concert series. 

The Spread Buffet on Urbanspoon

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Horseshoe Casino. All opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Recipe: Oven Baked Fajitas with Red Gold Tomatoes

I could probably eat fajitas every day of the week. Usually - steak are my favorite - but I came across a new recipe that I had to try. 

This recipe was for Oven-Baked Fajitas and used chicken. It sounded good and easy - so I thought I'd give it a whirl. I am always looking for ways to keep the chicken juicy and this seemed like it might have found the trick! 

These oven-baked fajitas have all the same ingredients with less work! I used chicken tenders so they would cook faster. You mix up a few spices with oil and top the chicken with the mixture. Coat the chicken. (We'll use those awesome Red Gold Tomatoes in 3...2...1!)

Then you add peppers, a can of Red Gold Tomatoes (I went with the cilantro lime) and a can of black beans. Stir Stir Stir and bake! That's it - how simple is that!?!

Out comes perfectly cooked chicken with all the toppings. I added sour cream and cheese on corn tortillas (my latest kick) and we were good to go. We had dinner as well as lunch for a couple of days - I made tacos, taco salad and quesadillas with the leftovers!



Oven Baked Chicken Fajitas 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1 large bell pepper, seeded and sliced 
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 12 corn tortillas

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 400. Place chicken strips in a casserole dish.
2. In small bowl, combine oil, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, oregano and salt
3. Drizzle spice mixture over the chicken and stir 
4. Add tomatoes, peppers, black beans and stir
5. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Serve on tortillas with toppings. 

Recipe adapted from Real Mom Kitchen

Looking for other Mexican recipes - check these out:


Disclosure: Red Gold provided me with product that was used in this post but all opinions are my own. 




Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Restaurant Review & Giveaway! Dunkin' Donuts

Who doesn't love donuts? I mean - they're cake you can eat on the go! One of my favorites is Dunkin' Donuts

We didn't really have them in Iowa - but man I'm glad Dunkin' Donuts is here! They have a drive thru which is nice - and you can get sandwiches, specialty coffees, even k-cups!

I tried their seasonal pumpkin donut - which was cake - and it was good! Not too overwhelming with the pumpkin but light like all their cake donuts. We also got some glazed for my egg-allergic husband. You're hungry now - aren't you?

My Dunkin' Donuts favorite is there in the middle - the powdered sugar with the frosting in the middle (not the pudding - the FROSTING!). So good. I dove into that as soon as this picture was taken. I couldn't help it!
Besides donuts (and really good breakfast sandwiches), Dunkin' Donuts also has muffins - I scored a blueberry muffin and it was really great too! The muffin was moist and the blueberries were juicy - I love that sugar topping too.

I love Dunkin' - the donuts are always tasty and the coffee is great too (if you ask my husband anyway). They have so many options - it's a great place for breakfast! There are a bunch of them around the city - and just to make sure you try one - I'm giving away a $20 gift card! Enjoy!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Dunkin' Donuts on Urbanspoon

Disclosure: This post sponsored by Dunkin' Donuts but all opinions are my own. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Giveaway! Skyline Peel & Win Game Time ($25 Gift Card Giveaway!)


Skyline Chili has it's Peel & Win game going on again! Any visit through Sept 28 will get you a peel & win card where you can win free coneys and other Skyline swag! It's good for dine-in and drive-thru - 1 piece per customer, per visit - and is good at all Skyline's in NKY, Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus! 

Coney's are my favorite - and the folks at Skyline know it - so they gave me a $25 gift card to give to one of you! So be sure to enter below and win - then head to Skyline and get your own game piece! 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Skyline but all opinions are my own. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Product Review: Schwan's Home Delivery (+ special offer for you!)

I'm sure everybody has heard of Schwan's - right? Schwan's is the home delivery food service - they have everything from ice cream to breakfast sandwiches to salmon fillets and everything in between! My Dad used to get Schwan's when I was in college and he'd stock me up with things I could microwave at school to help save money from eating out. But they've changed quite a bit since then! 

I decided to try out a wide variety of items - nearly all egg-free for my husband and myself to enjoy. (They have full nutrition on their site so it's easy to check.) I went for a few quick fix items, a few ready to eat and some that I could add to meals. I was pretty surprised at the variety and the prices - they have things at a wide variety of price ranges. They dropped off at my house and will drop off in freezer bags if you're not home.

I let Larry pick the ice cream he wanted - and it was a quick decision - he loves these Strawberry Sundae Crunch Bars (12 are $6.49). He pretty much ate one a day until they were gone. :-) Wouldn't you?

They also had these Blueberry Muffin starters (18 for $8.49) - you can use them in a couple different ways. If you use one in a muffin cup for small muffins, 2 for large muffins or bake them on parchment paper for a muffin top like I did. These were DELICIOUS!!! The thing I loved most was that the berries were big and JUICY! This wasn't like a boxed blueberry muffin - this tasted like I made them from scratch! Yum! (These were the one item that contained egg - poor Larry.)

One thing I wanted from Schwan's was quick-serve meals! I came across this Beef Mongolian Skillet Meal ($11.29) and decided to give it a whirl. I've tried many of the freezer meals like this before - but was pleasantly surprised. First - it's super simple!

This comes with everything you need in one bag - even the rice! You just pop open the bag - take out the rice and sauce. Rice goes in the microwave for 3 minutes, sauce goes in a bowl of hot water to thaw it out. While that's going - saute the veges & meat - then you add the sauce & rice. Voila - done! Literally freezer to plate in less than 15 minutes. That's what I need after a long day at work!! 

Then - it was actually good! There was plenty of rice and veggies - plus it was not only enough for 2 - we had enough for 2 PLUS leftovers for both of us! I would definitely get this one again - tasty, quick and affordable!

All in all I'm really happy with my Schwan's choices for the month. I also bought frozen seafood fillets - so I'll be making some fish soon as well - so stay tuned for more!

And I've got a special offer for you!

Eric from Schwan's is doing some special coupon codes that are getting you a great deal!

Offer 1: Coupon Code ericg2
First order will receive $5 off $25 and $10 off of $50

Offer 2: Coupon Code ericg15
Orders over $75 receive $15 off

Plus - the first 10 people to place orders of $25 get a $10 gift card!!! 

That means if you're among the first to place a $25 order - you're only going to pay $10!  To get the extra $10, email your confirmation code to Eric.

I know it's a little confusing with different codes - but what it comes down to is $25 in merchandise for $10! Let me know if you have any issues or questions!! 

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Schwan's but all opinions are my own. 






Thursday, September 18, 2014

Product Review: Sonoma Cutrer Chardonnay & Pinot Noir

This post brought to you by Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards. All opinions are 100% mine.

Recently I decided I wanted to try wine again - I've never been much of a drinker but wine intrigues me - how it can vary in so many ways and yet be adored by millions - there's gotta be something there. I knew I preferred white wine so I decided on the Sonoma-Cutrer Sonoma Coast Chardonnay.



I checked it out on their site and it mentioned fruit flavors like apple, pear and peach - so I figured that was a good route to go - I like fruit! Locally, I found the Sonoma-Cutrer at Kroger - they have a nice store locator on their site as well.



I like having light meats such as chicken or seafood with white wine. Tonight - honestly - I had a rough day at work. I didn't much feel like cooking! So I grabbed - of all things - a turkey pot pie out of the freezer. I love them!

I'm definitely no wine expert - but once I popped the cork on this one - I took a big whiff and it smelled nice! There was definitely some apple coming out to play. I joked with Larry as I poured my glass and swirled it like I knew what I was doing.



This actually worked really well - the Sonoma-Cutrer Chardonnay is a light white wine and doesn't have the bitter flavor that I'm used to. There are definitely hints of light fruit flavors as well as some nutty bites. It went nicely with my lovely turkey pot pie - the creaminess of the filling paired well with the mild wine.



Sonoma-Cutrer also has a variety of Chardonnays besides the 2012 Sonoma Coast and they have 4 different Pinot Noirs. I have to admit that Pinot looks really good - maybe I'll step up to trying red wines next! Even though I don't drink wine too often - I liked this enough that I'd definitely take this to the upcoming holiday parties I'll be going to. Wine is so easy for a hostess gift - grab it on the way - and who doesn't welcome a nice bottle of wine at a party?!

 photo _MGL3454_zpsecdbb802.jpg

For tips on entertaining & recipes - check out @SonomaCutrer on Twitter, (Sonoma-Cutrer) Facebook, (Sonoma-Cutrer) Instagram or on their website - Sonoma-Cutrer.

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Restaurant Review: Celebrate National Cheeseburger Day (Today!) with Margaritaville!

September 18 is a good day - why? It's National Cheeseburger Day. Hells yeah! Margaritaville at the Horseshoe Casino invited me down to check out their latest and greatest...so I had to share them with you too! 

CHEDDAR BBQ BURGER: Topped with cheddar cheese, Applewood-smoked bacon, fried onions, lettuce, and BBQ aioli. Served with a roasted jalapeño on the side.

I really liked the Cheddar BBQ. We got the burgers cooked medium and they were just right. This had piled on flavors with the bacon and fried onions but wasn't too messy that you couldn't pick up it up and eat it! Yum! I love that the buns are soft too - they're really tasty.

BLACK & BLEU BURGER: Topped with Applewood-smoked bacon, chunky bleu cheese dressing, lettuce and sliced tomato.

Next up was the Black & Bleu - I'm not a fan of bleu cheese but can handle it in small doses - my friend Lauren really likes it so it was her choice. Neither of us liked this one too much - the burger was fine but the bleu was a bit overwhelming on this. So if you like bleu cheese a LOT go for it.

VOLCANO BURGER: Topped with our volcano chili, lava cheese sauce, pickled jalapeños, guacamole and Fritos original corn chips.

Lauren talked me into this one and I'm glad she did. This sounded like it would be spicy - but it really wasn't. It was messy - as in knife and fork for sure! But it was also delicious! Every bite had something different - burger, chili, cheese sauce, guac, peppers and then fritos!!! Yum! Both of us thought this was the best one - it would be nice if it had a little more kick - but man - it was a plateful!

They also have a great patio that overlooks The Shoe where the concerts are. They had their last show of the season that night. You can get special armbands that provide free drinks and food as well as the best seats for the concert! It's a great spot! But even without concerts - the patio is really nice for lunch or dinner as well. 

CHEESEBURGER IN PARADISE®: Our signature burger topped with American cheese, lettuce, sliced tomato, pickles and paradise island sauce.

Their signature burger is the Cheeseburger in Paradise - it's more of a pure cheeseburger - looks good. Their fries are great too - crisp, salty and good! One burger we didn't try was the:

RANCHO DELUXE BURGER: Topped with Monterey Jack cheese, Applewood-smoked bacon, lettuce, sliced tomato, pickles and ranch dressing.

Of course - it sounds good as well - but that Volcano Burger was too much to resist!! 

I hope you'll check out Margaritaville for National Burger Day - but at least get a burger somewhere today - it's really your duty as an American! 

Disclosure: Margaritaville provided our lunch but all opinions are my own. 



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Event: Taste of Kenton County - Friday 9/26

Mark your calendar for Friday 9/26 for the Taste of Kenton County!


The Taste of Kenton County Fundraiser, presented by the Kenton County Public Library Foundation, is back and will take place at the Covington Branch Library from 6-8:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept 26.


Guests will get to taste samplings from Cake Rack, McHale’s, Molly Malones, Oriental Wok, Servatti’s, McAlisters, Keystone, TGI Fridays, Bonefish Grill, Left Bank Coffee House, Kremer’s Market, Grateful Grahams, Straus Haus, Argentine Bean, Grandview Tavern, Seligman Distributing Co., Piper’s Café, Chef Barone, Loschiavo’s Produce-Deli, Izzy’s and Angelo’s Pizza.

There will also be a silent auction including items like local restaurant and business gift certificates, a bourbon basket, Halloween decorations, a Kenton County Public Library basket and two Ulimate Shuttle Airline tickets from the Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati Airport to Chicago. A book buy will also take place. Guests can purchase a wrapped book for $5. They get to keep the surprise book but may also find a bonus prize inside the book like a free appetizer to a local restaurant or a gift certificate. The Heads and Tales split the pot game will also be played. Circus Mojo will provide entertainment from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

The cost is $25 in advance, $30 at the door. The ticket price includes food, while supplies last, and two wine tickets as well as unlimited nonalcoholic drinks. Guests can register by visiting www.kentonlibrary.org and clicking on the Taste of Kenton County flyer at the top of the page or by visiting www.eventbrite.com.

All proceeds will be used to provide programs and services that the Library’s budget does not cover.

Disclosure: The Fundraiser has provided me two tickets in exchange for this post but all opinions are my own. 

Looking for other fun things to do in Cincinnati:

Cincy Brew Bus
Glendalia Culinary Studio
Stratus Helicopter Tour




Monday, September 15, 2014

Restaurant Review: Buffalo Wings & Rings, College Hill


A few years ago I had some buffalo chicken nachos at Buffalo Wings & Rings in Indiana and I've never forgotten about them. Finally - Larry and I headed to the Wings & Rings in our back yard on Winton Rd!! It's really a nice location - they even had some live music the night we were there. Look at all those craft beers too - nice! 

Speaking of beer - if you're a Bengals fan - it might be a requirement to drink some beer out of this!

There they are - my beloved buffalo chicken nachos - man they're delicious. You can get whatever of their sauces you want on the chicken - I went for the mild and it still kicked my hiney. It's massive and delicious. The best part - there is queso AND melted cheese on these!!! Nice!

Larry got his usual - boneless mild buffalo - he's so predictable. But if he's happy - that's all I care about.

Why Should You Go? I think - mainly because of these nachos - I like Buffalo Wings & Rings better than Buffalo Wild Wings. These I crave - there's nothing at BW3s that I crave. Dammit - now I'm hungry again.

Which do you crave???

Buffalo Wings & Rings on Urbanspoon

Want more Buffalo Wing deliciousness? Check these out:

Buffalo Chicken Dip
Crock Pot Buffalo Chicken
Toot's (not on the post - but trust me - yum!)