Day Drive & Restaurant Review: Rankin House in Ripley OH & Dairy Yum Yum

Hubby and I were on a weekend drive and ventured out to Ripley, OH - one of our favorite spots. We decided to drive up to the Rankin House to show his mom since she'd never been. 

The Rankin House was one of many homes on the Underground Railroad and it's a top a beautiful hill on the Ohio River. They offer tours for just a few bucks per person and we had never been on it. Luckily we got there just as the last tour was starting so we FINALLY got to go inside!

Before going inside - we were in the back yard and it's just beautiful. And then you look at the river and think - people swam across this to freedom! Now - the river was much narrower then - but still - wow.

There's been a major restoration to bring the home back to it's original state. While on the tour you hear the story of the Rankin family - which is really amazing. I never realized that when people came here - they were just there for 1-2 nights and then they were on the move to the next place. The Rankin Family helped along the way.

Here's a spot in the bedroom where they have the original wall showing through to show how they restored it to a similar state. It's really a great job.

The stories are amazing - I won't even begin to try and remember and re-tell them - but I will confidently say - if you haven't been - it's worth the drive. It's about an hour from downtown Cinci but it's a gorgeous drive and you'll learn a few things at the Rankin House. Perfect for any lazy Sunday afternoon!

After all that learning - we were hungry! So back on the road we went to Aberdeen, OH and there we came across the Dairy Yum Yum. If it has Yum Yum in the title it has to be good - right?

This is a classic ice cream stand & diner - there was a few old people there and lots and lots of wood paneling. 

Larry went for cheese coneys - he said they were fine - not Gold Star - but he ate them. The service was a bit slow...but then once I got my food - none of it mattered.

I saw a Breaded Pork Tenderloin on the menu and jumped at the chance to try it. I'm always looking for a good one. There has to be a crazy meat to bun ratio and it has to be THIN! And thankfully - Yum Yum delivered BIG TIME!

This breaded pork tenderloin was perfection! It was so thin and crispy with a nice pork loin bite. There's nothing fancy here - lettuce, tomato, pickle, mayo and goodness. This was a flood of memories of home flowing back to me - so delicious. I was sure it was homemade but I was wrong - so if it does come frozen in some box - good for whomever makes that box of yum.
A photo posted by Heather Johnson (@foodhussy) on

After we took the ferry across the river to Kentucky and drove home on Kentucky 8. It's a great drive - although the Ohio side is prettier - but we always like to go back a different way than what we came.

Why Should You Go? Cuz that tenderloin was amazing. Boom.

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Restaurant Review: Zola Pub & Grill - Covington, KY

I'm always looking for new places to go for lunch - sometimes it's not even all together new - just someplace I haven't been forever. I'm really lucky in that my coworkers are really flexible and open to trying new places - so I take advantage of that all I can.

We needed to try something new and went to Zola Pub and Grill in Covington Mainstrasse. I used to work in the Cov so I went all the time - I just hadn't been in a long time. I remembered them having great burgers... 

While the burgers are good - I was in the mood for salad - and I ordered the Fried Chicken Salad ($8.25). The salad has a lettuce, fried chicken breast, tomato, egg, avocado, onions and cheddar tossed with ranch. Well - it's normally tossed with bleu cheese dressing but I subbed ranch. I like that the salad came all tossed with the dressing and the chicken breast was super juicy and crispy.

This was a really great salad - there was plenty of toppings besides lettuce - it was dressed nicely and the chicken was perfect. I would highly recommend this one.

FYI - Wednesday is burger day and burgers with up to 5 toppings are only $6. $6!!! And after seeing this burger - you're going to want to mark that on your calendar.

Susie got the Mo Town burger ($7.95) with housemade BBQ sauce, bacon, onion straws & cheddar cheese. She got the chips as well which were really crisp! I like that so many things at Zola are made in-house - they really take pride in their kitchen.

Dawn got the Blackened Chicken Cobb Salad ($7.95) with grilled chicken, avocado, bleu cheese crumbles (which she left off), bacon, egg & tomato served with ranch. She also commented on how great the salad was. It's a really nice portion size with plenty of toppings. Good stuff. 

Why Should You Go? Well - as you can tell - we all liked our food. There is one STRONG drawback. The place is smoky as HELL! I mean - wowza - full of smoke - the whole downstairs is just people smoking. Thankfully - the upstairs is basically empty and un-smokified. I saw the steps leading upstairs and asked if we could head up there - the waitress looked at me with shock & dismay - like "Why would you want to do that????" Up we went. It was dark and drab - but not smoky. We opened the curtains and enjoyed a peaceful, smoke-free lunch. I don't normally think of myself as that persnickety but it was horrible. So - as I climb off my smokebox - I mean soap box - I'll say again - the food is great - if you can handle smoke. If not - head straight upstairs and holler for a server as you sprint up the stairs. 

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Recipe: Caprese Salad (who knew it was this damn easy?!)

When I was a kid - we had a huge garden. It was like half the size of a football field - it was ridiculous. My "job" was to weed it - every day - all summer - for 10 years. God I hated that f'ing garden. Did I love the fresh tomatoes? Yes - but I hated weeding it. 

Now - I'm 40(ish). I miss fresh tomatoes. So I have my own version of a garden. It's 3 pots - on my front step. Baby steps. 

There's one pot with tomatoes - they're getting pretty big - and these two happy little pots with basil and cilantro. I'm pretty psyched that they started from these little pre-seeded pods for $1 each at Walmart. You stick them in a pot and water them. That's it. I figured if they didn't grow - I was only out a few bucks - but they grew! Look at that beautiful basil. It was so bright and pretty - I thought - well hell - now I need something to make with it! 

I thought of Caprese Salad. It's so delicious and refreshing - and I thought - well hell - it's pretty easy to make too! Now, my tomatoes are nowhere near ready so I had to buy some at a store - but the basil got me well on the way. 

A photo posted by Heather Johnson (@foodhussy) on
This was so super simple - it's basil, tomato, fresh mozzarella, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper - that's it. Layer the basil, tomato, mozz - then sprinkle with the rest. I thought - can it really be this easy? Why have I not done this before?

Well it was that easy. It was so easy - I did it again!

This time - my tomato wasn't as pretty and I was eating it alone - so I didn't need as much. I decided to cut everything in bite size pieces and make more of a salad out of it. Chop chop chop - sprinkle sprinkle sprinkle. Caprese salad - done. From pot on my porch to in my belly in about 5 minutes. And it's so beautiful - how can it not be good for you???

So here's the "recipe" - it's so simple - I can barely call it a recipe - but hey - if it gets you to make it for yourself - here you go!

Caprese Salad

* 1 tomato
* 1 ball of fresh mozzarella
* 5-10 leaves of fresh basil
* salt
* pepper
* olive oil
* balsamic vinegar

Slice your tomato and mozzarella. Alternately layer decoratively on a serving plate. Tuck the whole basil leaves in between the layers. Crack black pepper and salt generously over your dish (I like a lot of salt). Pour the olive oil into the cap and drizzle over the layered plate of goodness. Do that a couple of times. Pop open the Balsamic Vinegar and splash it over the top - as generous as you feel like.

You really can't go wrong. Go light on the Balsamic if you're new to using it - go heavy if you're addicted like me.

And be sure to post your beautiful pics to Instagram and tag me - I want to be reminded that I need to make it again. Tomorrow. And the next day. And the next day. And the next day after that.

Restaurant Review: Kenning's Circle K Steakhouse - Cheviot

My hubby works weekends (which sucks) so I have to take advantage of the time I get with him to eat out at unique places. So when he came home one random night - I proposed three new restaurants for dinner - Remezo Greek, Mimi's Cafe and Circle K Kennings - he chose...

It's a West Side Staple and has been there forever. It has a definite feel like Pine Club or Maury's Tiny Cove - small building, no windows, no redecorating since the grand opening. It's also 30 seconds from a Walgreens - but more on that later.

Larry was happy to find crackers on the table - I'm not sure why this brings joy to a grown man - but it does. I'll take it where I can get it.

We must have had signs on our back saying that we were up for carb-loading - because after the crackers came fresh baked bread. The rolls were tasty for sure but it's hard for rolls right out of the oven to not be good.

Larry shocked me pretty severely by ---- ordering MUSHROOMS! Yeah - who saw that coming! The sauteed mushrooms ($6.99) were deglazed with white wine and topped with parmesan. The mushrooms were tasty - very old school - but good. Larry literally gobbled them up - it was very strange - he's just not a mushroom guy.

I went for the hot slaw with my dinner. Why? Because it's what you do when on the west side. I didn't choose it - it chose me - and I'm glad. This was good as hot slaw goes. It's basically hot cabbage in vinegar covered with bacon - lots of bacon. There's also some sugar in there because it's got sweet & sour. Larry hates when I ask him to try things but I know he likes cabbage so he reluctantly tried a bite and agreed - it was good.

The steaks come with one or two sides - for my other side I chose a twice baked potato and ooooooooh it was good! It was not just a potato that was emptied out and put back in a shell - they mixed sour cream and cheese and goodness in and then put it back in the shell. Good stuff.

Larry got the New York Strip ($21.99) - which is a leaner cut than the ribeye (we learned that on our Certified Angus Beef trip) The 12 oz. cut, is charbroiled and served with Bernaise sauce and onion strings.

I never understand the orange - what am I supposed to do with it? The steak was great - super tender and cooked perfectly. Larry ditched the onions but let me snag some - they were crispy and a good compliment - I didn't eat them all - don't like the soggy ones that get mixed up with meat juice. All in all though - the steak was really good.

He gave me a bite. Yum. 

I went for the Create Your Own Combo ($22.99) and chose crab cakes and blackened sea scallops. Everything is very old school - especially in presentation. We actually got there around 815pm and they close at 9pm - there was one older couple left and that was it. They were planning on closing early until we showed up - but were very pleasant even though we were the only folks there.

The crab cakes were good - not great - I think they're homemade but the crab is likely the kind you buy in a can and there's an ample amount of filling. They're very crabby but fairly typical. I liked them but probably wouldn't order them again.

The scallops were a bit disappointing. They were small and a bit overcooked but the seasoning on them was good.

Oh and that "30 seconds from Walgreens" I mentioned earlier? Well that brings us to the Chocolate Mousse. All of their desserts are made in-house by one of the server's moms. She was there - I was about to ask about the ingredients - when someone INSISTED he'd had mousse before and he was sure he could eat it. It was creamy and light and chocolately - very delicious - and had eggs. So he ate a few bites - I ate the rest and we got the check.

With the check came this magic envelope that we can bring back another time. There's everything from free dessert to $25 gift certificate and you bring it to your next visit.

After paying the check pretty quickly, heading to Walgreens for Benadryl and then a stop off at the E.R. - we headed home. Whew! The moral of the story - if you have an allergy - ALWAYS ASK!

Why Should You Go? It's a bit old school and very "west side" but of the old school steakhouses - it was our favorite. The steak was good and so were the sides. The servers were also hilarious - when you go at the end of the night - they get funnier.

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Recipe: Sweet & Spicy Salmon

I was looking for a quick and easy salmon recipe that would be restaurant worthy and came across one for a Sweet Citrus Spiced Salmon.

Looks delicious - right? This recipe has it all - citrus marinade, brown sugar coating melted with spicy goodness.

Marinate the salmon in pineapple juice & lemon juice for at least an hour. I might try this again with just this marinade to see how it tastes. I love love love pineapple juice. I really only had enough salmon for two - but the recipe makes enough coating for 4-6.

Then you mix together your sweet & spicy coating mixture. Chili powder, lemon zest, brown sugar, cinnamon, cumin and kosher salt all go together in this quick concoction. I'm really getting addicted to brown sugar - it melts so wonderfully - I just love it!

Yes - under all that delicious is a salmon filet big enough for two. Like I said - there's extra enough for 4-6 - but I just used it all for the two I had.

After this is coated - you bake it for 10-15 minutes depending on how much you have and how done you like it!

The salmon was delicious! The brown sugar just melted into this delicious saucy mixture just from the juicy marinade. So delicious!

Sweet & Spicy Salmon


Citrus Marinade

3/4 cup pineapple juice 
6 tbsp fresh lemon juice
6 (6oz) salmon fillets, skin removed

Sweet & Spicy Topping

1/2 cup packed brown sugar 
2 tsp lemon zest 
2 tsp chili powder 
1 tsp ground cumin 
1/2 tsp kosher salt 
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon


1) In a large resealable plastic bag, combine pineapple juice, lemon juice and salmon. Refrigerate for 1 hour, turning occasionally.

2) Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat an 11x7-inch baking dish with non- stick cooking spray.

3) For the topping, in a small bowl, combine brown sugar, lemon zest, chili powder, cumin, salt and cinnamon. Remove salmon from refrigerator and dispose of marinade. Place fillets in prepared baking dish and rub brown sugar mixture over salmon. Bake 12 minutes or until fish is flaky.

Serves 6

Recipe originated on

Recipe: Food Hussy’s Dunkin Donuts Grilled Cheesecake Sandwich

Last week - I was challenged to create a recipe with Dunkin Donuts - well - I took that challenge and came up with two recipes! For this one - we start with a day-old glazed donut...

Slice it in half and flip it out - butter the inside flat surface and place that butter side down in a hot skillet. You'll see I used a glazed donut with chocolate frosting - with this - use what you like. I would stick to the glazed type of donuts and not the cake.

Then you'll take the other half of the donut and spread on softened cream cheese and your favorite fruit preserves. Be sure to use preserves because they're thicker and won't just fall of. Add this half of your donut to the one grilling. Then flip and cook just like a grilled cheese sandwich.

Here's the finished product - it looks just like a grilled cheese - but with delicious dessert goodness on the inside! I used plain cream cheese and Amana Strawberry Rhubarb Preserves on the inside.

These were so delicious - I couldn't keep them to myself - so I took them to Fox 19 and made them with Frank Marzullo!

This is a fantastic dessert - it takes a regular old glazed donut to the next level and you can customize it to what you like and/or have in your kitchen! Trust me - you'll definitely want it again!

Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Food Hussy’s Dunkin Donuts Grilled Cheesecake Sandwich

1 glazed donut – plain or chocolate frosted
1 Tablespoon softened butter
2 Tablespoons softened cream cheese
2 Tablespoons fruit preserves

Slice donut in half and invert the donut. Spread butter on the inside of each donut half and then rest butter-side up. Preheat skillet on medium. Spread softened cream cheese on non-butter side of donut. Top cream cheese with fruit preserves. Place this donut half butter side down in the skillet. Top with other donut half. Heat on medium for 1 minute until butter starts to sizzle. Keep an eye on it – these cook quickly. Flip one time and grill on other side. Once toasted – remove from skillet – slice and serve!  

Restaurant Review: Popeyes Louisiana Chicken

We got a Popeyes up the street from us now - it opened last fall on Colerain. Everybody and their dog was going for months - every time I tried to go - the line was around the whole store. Finally - the crowds have died down - so I was able to check it out.  

They have quite a few $5 Big Boxes - I'm not really sure what quantifies a big box - but it seems like everything I order comes in one. I've been ordering the 2 piece bone-in or the tenders meal.

Because it's so close to my house - I've gone back multiple times and tried different sides to see what I like. This time was cajun fries - I don't know why they were "cajun" - except maybe some seasoning - that I couldn't really taste.

I always get dark meat chicken - I'm just not a fan of chicken breast from a restaurant like this - they tend to be dry. I like thighs & legs. I get one piece spicy and one piece mild - the spicy isn't too spicy but I like it. I like having one of each - then it's a surprise when I bite into it. The breading is very crispy - it also is not Larry-friendly in that there are eggs somewhere in the process - so Popeyes dinners are Heather-only. The dark meat though is very juicy and I really like it.

The red beans & rice I loved - it's great every time. I don't know that it is in any way authentic but I like it nonetheless.

I also tried the tenders and was a bit surprised at how much different they were. They were rubbery and just not good. Right now they have a Smoky Garlic Chile Chicken - but it's only in the tenders - so I'll avoid it.

The biscuits are my favorite - I like them so much more than KFC - they're really buttery and don't need any toppings. I also tried the mac & cheese - it's very creamy and cheesy - I loved it - but you have to really like it creamy.

Why Should You Go? If you're looking for a new fried chicken place - give it a whirl! I like the sides and chicken better but the tenders are a no-go.

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Recipe: Dunkin' Donuts Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding (for National Donut Day!)

There's only one way to celebrate National Donut Day:

They have a great offer for a free donut with the purchase of a beverage on June 5! 

Because my husband's eyes are bigger than his stomach - he always gets more donuts than he can eat. Because of that - I had a head start on donut day to see what I could whip up with the leftovers and I came up with a chocolate chip bread pudding idea! 

First - chop up leftover donuts into 8 pieces. You'll want to use glazed donuts (not cake) - but feel free to use the plain or chocolate frosted.

Next up - load your (greased) baking dish up. I have these small dishes and 3 donuts filled them. The full recipe listed below would probably fill up an 8x8 dish. After the donuts are in the dish - sprinkle on cinnamon and chocolate chips.

Then you mix together eggs, milk, cream, sugar and vanilla (french toast type of mixture) and whip that all together. Then pour over top of your donuts. I used a spoon to push them down into the egg/cream mixture and let them soak for a few minutes.

Then bake at 350 for 30 minutes for this size dish - 45-50 for an 8x8 dish. Now this isn't as beautiful as the final product - but I was making this for an appearance on Local 12/Star 64 - so I had to do the finishing touches on air.

Once it comes out of the oven - let it cool for a few minutes and then sift a little powdered sugar over the top. A lot of times people will make a sauce for bread pudding - but this is so rich - it doesn't need it! A little bit of powdered sugar is a perfect topping!!

A photo posted by Heather Johnson (@foodhussy) on

Here I am with the Local 12 crew - Sheila Gray & Bob Herzog were a blast and I can't wait to go back! As my boss recently pointed out - my mouth is ALWAYS open - so I had to keep it going (it's not like that was actually NEWS to me!)

And hey - I'd love to have you check out the video of my appearance!

So enjoy National Donut Day and grab a free donut for yourself! 

Food Hussy’s Dunkin Donuts Bread Pudding

  • 6 cups leftover Dunkin Donuts glazed donuts (some with chocolate frosting!)
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • powdered sugar
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Take the donuts that have been cut into chunks and spread out in an 8 inch baking pan. Drizzle the melted butter over the donuts. Sprinkle the cinnamon and the chocolate chips over the donuts.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs. Add the milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla and mix together. Pour this wet mixture over the donuts and allow them to soak up the goodness. I massaged the wet mixture into the donuts to be sure it was well absorbed.
  3. Bake for approximately 50 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool slightly and sift a little confectioners sugar over the top. Serve! Recipe easily fills 8x8 baking dish but can also be halved for the size dish I used.