Top Recipes of 2017

Yesterday I shared the best restaurant dishes of 2017 and today I'm going to share with you the best recipes I made in 2017 and the most popular ones from my site - in case you missed them!

First - the recipes I made - (in no particular order):

1. Blueberry Vinaigrette - super simple recipe and it's always fun to spend time with my TV friends. 

2. Cheesy Irish Boxty's - these are great for St. Patrick's Day but shouldn't be missed the rest of the year either! 

3. Strawberry Cacao Pork Loin Salad - I love this salad at Bite Restaurant in Milford and decided to make it at home and then added a bacon covered pork loin. How can you go wrong? 

4. Praline Caramel Corn - uh yes please! Do I need to say any more? 

5. Triple Berry Cobbler - this is by far my favorite recipe of the year. It's my Mom's Famous Cobbler recipe with mixed berries swapped out for the normal peaches. It's soooo good! 

6. Ham + Noodle Casserole - I've made this recipe since I could reach the counter as a little kid. It's delicious and simple. Canned ham is the surprise and it's definitely something you'll use again!

7. 3 Ingredient Pulled Pork Empanadas - These are great tasting and on the table in less than 30 minutes! So it's a win! win!

Now - the top 5 recipes across my site for the year! There are some delicious favorites in here!!!

6. Weight Watchers Goulash - I grew up making goulash and here's a healthy version that is still packed with flavor. It's a perfect winter recipe for these cold cold days and the leftovers are delicious!

5. CopyCat Penn Station - Meijer sells the perfect beef for copycat Penn Station sandwiches and it's a staple in our house - we make them all the time! 

4. CopyCat Maid Rites - Maid Rites are my favorite food from back home and so many of them have closed so I had to figure out how to make them myself and I did! Yahoo!!!!  

3. One Pot Cheesy Sausage Pasta - You can't go wrong with one pot meals - and this is one of my favorites! Cheesy and delicious! 

2. CopyCat Taco John's Potato Ole Seasoning - another favorite from home! We don't have Taco John's here but this seasoning mix is something I still remembered and loved so I made it myself!

1. Mom's Peach Cobbler - still #1 - it'll always be my Mom's Peach Cobbler. There's a secret ingredient that you just can't match. If you haven't tried this one yet - I'm not sure what you're waiting for! It will hands-down be the best cobbler you've ever tasted!!

So that's it for 2017! Hopefully some of the dishes I made this year will make the top list next year as well! Have you tried any of them? Let me know what you want me to make! 

Best Dishes & Restaurants of 2017!

I've been to a lot of great restaurants in 2017 and wanted to end the year by sharing some of my favorites with you and give you a bucket list of places to go in 2018!

In no particular order, my 10 11 favorite dishes in 2017! (I went through the year and found 1 extra - had to add it! 

The LARP with pork at Lotus Pad is divine! It's a new farm-to-table 
restaurant near the movie theater that is not to be missed!!! 

Crazy Bowls is like Chipotle but fresh and healthier - this salad with grilled salmon is great and I can order online and walk there in 2 minutes to pick it up for lunch! 

This at-home dish is a bowl game staple but now you can get it in the restaurant! It's delicious and was served with pink chips for Breast Cancer Awareness. 

So this isn't a "restaurant" but you need to go see Jordan at Tablespoon. She taught me how to make the most delicious fried chicken I've ever had!! (and no eggs!) 

Sometimes the simpler, the better and that is the case with this old fashioned soda fountain in West Union. Bring $7 and you and a friend will be stuffed with sandwiches, chips and shakes (only $1). Plus - it's a great day trip! 

How could I leave my friends at Gold Star off the list? You'll have to wait until September for this one but don't miss it! Brown mustard, sauerkraut and Gold Star Chili get Oktoberfest started right!

These guys set up shop in the parking lot of the liquor store at Rt 28 & Branch Hill Guinea Pike all summer long on the weekends. Mark your calendars now and get there early! The mustard BBQ sauce in the baked beans is another treat and get the jalapeno poppers - if you're lucky enough for them to still be any left! 

This chain brunch place really wowed us with their food. It all tastes scratch-made and that queso was sooooooo good! The staff was super friendly too. 

Another favorite - I had a gift certificate to try it and loved it! I found it so much better than other sandwich places and will definitely go back. The lobster bisque was great too - big chunks of lobster!

This place keeps changing hands and names but if they stick with these tater tot waffles - you gotta go! There are many options and this was really good.

Maybe I saved the best for last - this was early in the year that I tried it but man oh man - this queso is the best in the city! And the furniture is so fun and bright - I'd love to swipe it for my house!

I hope you'll try some of these in 2018 and let me know your favorites and things I've missed! Where should I go in 2018? 

Recipe & Giveaway: Paddington 2 Tickets & his Orange Marmalade

This post is sponsored by Paddington 2. All opinions are my own.

There are definitely some books that I really remember from childhood and Paddington Bear is one of them. I loved all the adventures he went on and was always asking my Grandma to get orange marmalade because Paddington loved it! I mean - who wouldn't love a cute little guy like him?!

Now that I'm all grown up - I can make my own marmalade. And since Paddington 2 is coming out January 12 in theaters, they sent me Paddington's recipe to try! It's definitely a labor of love this one - but the outcome was thick and delicious! 

We even decided to have a little tea party to celebrate! Luckily it wasn't just me and my dogs - I was at a friend's house and she has a couple of kids who played along with us.

Paddington 2 is having an advance screening Wednesday, January 10 
at Xscape Northgate at 7pm (the theater with the recliners!)

To RSVP for a family 4-pack of passes, go to

*Passes available on a first come, first served basis. This film is rated PG.

Opens in theaters January 12

Paddington (and Aunt Lucy’s) Marmalade
Tip: Please be aware that this recipe has been handed down to Paddington from his Aunt Lucy. Quantities and techniques may vary from the jungles of Peru so please adapt to your taste and own kitchen utensils.
·       12 ripe from the tree Seville oranges (Mrs Bird says this is normally about 1kilogram)
·       Preserving sugar (Mrs Bird says this is better than jam sugar for marmalade and should be twice the weight of the oranges. Mrs Bird and I balance the scales and then do it again to get the right weight.)
·       1 lemon per 12 (1kg) oranges
·       One large bucket of water (approx. 2.5 litres)
Things to make it with:
·       A heavy bottomed maslin pan – this helps spread the heat for an even boil. Mrs Birds’ has a volume measure on the side, and a lip and handle so it makes pouring easier.
·       Muslin bags
·       Lots of clean recycled jam jars (Mrs Bird gets cross with me when I offer to clean them with my tongue – she recommends you sterilise them in the oven.)
Steps to make the perfect Paddington marmalade:
Wash the oranges and lemon
Cut them in half and squeeze out all the juice  (if your paws aren’t big enough then use an electric squeezer like Mrs Bird does.)
Add the juice to the water and collect all the spare pith and pips in your muslin bag
It’s all hands and paws at the ready for this bit!
Take the orange halves and scrap out any remaining pulp, pith and pips and add them to the muslin bag and tie tightly. (Mr Brown particularly likes this bit.)
TIP: you’re trying to get a clean skin / peel so the more pulp you get out the easier and cleaner the finished marmalade chunks will be.
Suspend the muslin bag over the pan with some rope, or Mrs Bird suggests a hook.
Slice the peel to the Paddington standard (thick chunks).
Add the peel to the juice / water
Put the pan onto the heat and simmer, without a lid, for two hours to soften the peel.
TIP: Whilst waiting for the peel to cook it’s a good time to put two or three plates in the freezer to use later. Aunt Lucy used to use a small flat rock in the shade to test the marmalade but Mrs Bird says freezers are quicker to get the plates (or rocks!) cool.
Take the pith and pip muslin bag off and set aside to cool. Once it’s cool squeeze any remaining juice from the muslin bag back into the pan with the juice, water and peel.
Put the pan back on the heat and stirring all the time slowly pour in your sugar until it’s all dissolved.
Start your timer when the liquid is at a rolling boil.  (Paddington is normally put on watch for this bit. He has a keen eye for detail. He says his whiskers start to stand on end!)
The marmalade will be ready about 20 minutes later but Mrs Bird likes to start testing a little before (just in case!)
Testing: Take a teaspoon full of marmalade and tip it onto one of your plates from the freezer.
The Uncle Pastuso (wrinkle) test: if the top wrinkles when moved across the plate with your paw then the marmalade is ready.
Take the pan away from the heat, leave to rest for 20 minutes and fill your jars.

Please ensure the marmalade is thoroughly cooled before any sandwiches are made.

Restaurant Review: Slatts Pub, Blue Ash OH

Now that I work in Blue Ash - the restaurants are plentiful and one is basically across the street from me- Slatts Pub. Slatts is owned by the folks that own Wags Park, 50 West, etc. but is one of their older establishments. It's pretty much the only "sports bar" on the square so it's got a pretty built in clientele. 

Citrus Rum Grilled Shrimp Salad ($14) - garden fresh greens, sliced cucumber, fresh avocado, corn & black bean salsa and honey lime dressing

I have had lunch there a couple of times - once I got the Citrus Shrimp salad and it looks very pretty. Unfortunately - it looked better than it tasted. I had a few issues with the salad:
* I didn't taste any citrus or rum
* Why leave the tail on? It just means I have to get my fingers sticky when I pull it off. Pop it off for me dammit.
* The honey lime vinaigrette was off - it was too much honey and not enough lime and bland

Really the whole salad was bland - cucumber doesn't really have flavor - neither does avocado - it was all bland bland bland. Nothing was "bad" it just had no flavor - well that dressing was bad.

Carnitas Tacos (3 for $11) - on another occasion I got tacos for takeout and brought them back to work. I was dying for tacos and this is walkable from my work. Again - bland. All of it. Blah.

The only thing I really liked both times was the biscuit. I have no idea why I got a biscuit with my tacos - but I was glad I did - it was tasty! It was a little sweet and the butter was soft (woohoo). I got it again with my salad - it wasn't as good - but it was still the best part of the meal.

Why Should You Go? Well - I didn't really love it - but I'm sure there's some things on the menu that are fine. Given the proximity - I'll probably end up there again - but if you know of something great - let me know. 

Slatts Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Christmas Surprise 2017!

Well I had a fun Christmas! Our family is super small and Christmas usually isn't that big of a deal for us - so I had an idea - let's go make some other people have a fun Christmas! I reached out to some partners I've worked with over the year and asked for their help - then I headed out into the snow.

I stopped at Circle K, Walgreens, Best Western, Ameristop, CVS and MercyHealth ER and tried to give a few people stuck working on the holiday a Merrier Christmas!

Then tonight - I had one last gift card and it was a good one! $100 to Liberty Center! We stopped at Steak 'n Shake and went through the drive thru to get Larry a shake and surprised the young lady working the drive thru. She was so genuinely surprised and happy - it was really the best reaction of the day! Save the best for last I guess!

Thanks so much to the partners who donated gift cards to the cause and made this day possible!
I hope to have an even bigger Christmas Surprise in 2018! 

Food Hussy Review: Lotus Pad Asian Cuisine - West Chester, OH

Last weekend I was invited to come up and try the latest restaurant at the amazingness that is Liberty Center and couldn't say YES fast enough! I mean - free Thai food - where do I sign up?! 

The folks at Lotus Pad provided me a free meal and a couple of gift cards (keep your eye on my Facebook page!!) to check it out.  If you're familiar with Liberty Center, Lotus Pad is located across the yard from the movie theater on the end opposite the indoor mall.

One of the restaurant partners, Bryan, walked me through the restaurant and let me know a little about how this all came about. They have one other location - in Big Sky, Montana! A couple of the restaurant partners though are from this part of the country and their chef was familiar with the area as well - so they decided it would be a good spot.

We started - by Bryan's reco - with the LARP (lettuce wraps) ($10) and chose the pork because we all know how much I love pork! (I partner up with the Ohio Pork Council all the time!) 

These lettuce wraps were amazing. Delicious. Perfection! There's basil and Thai chili, peanuts, ground pork and that sweet chili sauce. Hubby wasn't too sure about this - he doesn't like assembling his food - but once he started - he didn't stop! These were so much FRESHER tasting than the ones I've had before! It's a very bright and flavorful dish. 

I got to go behind the counter and watch them put our next dish together - and caught a glimpse of what they're working with. No wonder it tastes fresh - because it is! I loved that everything was out in the open and looked like it was right out of the garden. I'm down with that! 

Bryan also shared with us that Lotus Pad is all about Farm to Table. They source locally - from the meat to the eggs to the veggies - whenever possible. I perked up because of the whole pork thing and he didn't hesitate to put me in touch with their pork farm! 

The farm got back to me and said that they work with a couple of local food organizations (Ohio Valley Food Connection & Butcher and Grocer) to get their meat into local restaurants and they are the local pork provider for Whole Foods in this area. Pretty cool! 

Knowing where your food comes from definitely adds to the freshness - it's not from some big warehouse truck that drops it off frozen - they know where everything comes from and I like that. 

We had to try the Wagyu Beef - cuz duh - it's Wagyu Beef! The dish on top is the Crying Tiger ($31) with Wagyu Beef, thai chili spice rub and a tomato/cucumber/spinach salad topped with a mint vinaigrette. We both loved this dish! The steak was cooked mid-rare to perfection (of course). The mint worried me a bit - but no need for worry - it was a very light touch. This and the lettuce wraps were our faves - by far! 

On the bottom you'll see the Spicy Pork Belly Stir Fry ($21) with pork belly, thai chili, onion, scallion, snow pea and shitake mushroom in a dark soy sauce. This is the dish I saw them make - so I knew everything that went into it. I think too - because everything is made from scratch - they would likely customize for you if you didn't like one thing or another. This dish overall was good but I think the more I try it - the more I'm just not a pork belly fan. I mean - I love bacon - but the protein in this form just didn't wow me. I did eat all the mushrooms though. ;-) 

Also - either of these on their own would have been enough to share - when paired with an app. The portions are large and they encourage family style dining.

For the sake of tasting lots of things - we also got their Drunken Noodles ($16) which had chicken, basil, wide rice noodles, red bell pepper, scallion, broccoli, thai chili, lime and peanuts.  This dish was a little disappointing - it's a big portion but just didn't have the burst of flavor that the lettuce wraps and wagyu had. It was good - but I probably wouldn't order again. 

Bryan also brought over one of their Thai Teas. They have a lot of boozy treats as well although this was non-alcoholic. Oddly enough - it sort of had a creamsicle flavor once you mixed it together. I didn't love it - but I'm weird with drinks. Larry basically chugged it! He loved it! 

Overall - we loved Lotus Pad - just knowing how fresh everything is and how important farm-to-table is for them. We will definitely be back - mainly because I can't stop thinking about those damn lettuce wraps!!! 

Lotus Pad  Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato