Thursday, August 27, 2009

1.5 Bathrooms?

So I have been househunting. I want to use the $8000 credit and I think I'm ready for a house. I want a deck and a yard and a dining room...and a pretty kitchen to host get togethers with my friends and family. Househunting has been a lot of fun and also a lot of stress and annoyance...mixed in with a little heartbreak (more on that in a different post..maybe).

We have decided one thing for has to have at least 1.5 bathrooms...obviously I would prefer 2, but we have decided to stop even looking at houses that only have 1. This has been one of the biggest annoyances of house hunting. DONT tell me your place has 1.5 bathrooms if one of them looks like this:
NOT a half bathroom

We saw this in more than one house...washer, dryer, toilet...just all sitting there in a row in the unfinished basement out in the open....that is what they are considering the half bath. It feels like false advertising and now I'm just not going to buy your stupid house purely out of spite...well that and I never want to have to say to people, "oh, the upstairs bathroom is in use?...just go downstairs and use the toilet in the basement, it's right next to the dryer..."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Restaurant Review- Nicola's

Well last week was Restaurant week in Cincinnati, which is always exciting, because it gives me a chance to try out some of the fancier places in town that I usually don't get to frequent. I have been dying to try Nicola's and when I saw the restaurant week menu, I decided it was finally time to go try it.

Now I know perfectly well that you can't always judge a restaurant by it's restaurant week menu...but I think it's a great place to get in there and see what the place is all about. Located in Over the Rhine, this place used to be where they kept and repaired the old street cars (according to Rob, information not verified) but either way it was a very pretty place. Brick interior, crisp white linens, high ceilings...a very pretty place. We had a table with a view of the beautiful outdoor veranda. It was very pretty out there, but a little hot of a night to be fine dining outdoors.. We sat down, ordered one of the most inexpensive wines available and started perusing the menu.

If you've never been to Restaurant Week before....basically, the menu is much more limited than the regular menu. Sometimes the restaurant menu items are items that are on the regular menu, and sometimes they are "special" just for the event. At Nicola's we had the choice of 2 first courses, 4 second courses and 2 desserts. Our waiter did the whole fancy put my napkin in my lap for me and all that...which always makes me feel a little fancy and a lot silly.... and then he brought out this basket of bread. ohmygoodness.... you have never seen a bread basket like this. It was fabulous. Warm, soft, all different...some with vegetables baked right on top of the bread....yummm. These babies didn't even need olive oil or butter or anything else...they were all so delicious. I had half the bread bowl and then willed myself to stop so I could enjoy my dinner...but that bread with a glass of wine...a meal in itself!

For the first course we both had the Caprese salad with buffalo mozzarella, crostini and locally grown cherry tomatoes and basil. I have to say I'm not a HUGE caprese salad fan... I love tomatoes and basil, but I think fresh mozzarella is majorly lacking in both the flavor and texture dept. I know people will think I'm crazy...but that's how I feel. This starter was good. The Tomatoes and basil were delicious and pretty and the crostini was crunchy and salty...mmm. I think it could have used a drizzle of balsamic....but other than was pretty yummy way to start the meal.

For our second course Rob had the Seared day boat cod with roasted eggplant and asparagus caponata, citrus asparagus puree and roasted red pepper. He thought everything on the plate was good and very fresh tasting...and his plate was clean...including all of the pretty sauces. I tasted the cod and being the non-fish lover I am, was really suprised by how much I liked was tender and not super fishy tasting...which is apparantly how I judge a good fish.

I had the Pork tenderloin wrapped in pancetta with potatoes, fava beans and white wine pork jus. apparantly I LOVE fava beans. They were the most delicious thing on this plate. I wanted to eat a whole bowl of them...and now I will be on the hunt for fava beans at the grocery store to see if I can find these tasty little niblets. The pork was cooked perfectly...still just the slightest pinkish in the middle...and the potatoes were tender...although I would have swapped every potato on that plate for some more of those fava beans... all in all it was good. but nothing that completely blew me away.

For dessert I had the Creme Brulee with Fresh berries.

It was a good creme brulee... I wanted about a million more berries...but this is fine dining and that's not how it works :)

Rob had the Tiramisu with espresso creme anglais and zabione gelato. yummmm

All in all, I liked this restaurant a lot, but I am not sure if it is worth the money. I would definitely like to go back again and try the regular menu items...and enjoy the atmosphere again... Also I have read that there are some specials there if you go on Monday nights and sit at the that could definitely be an option worth exploring!!

Nicola's on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Pizza Party!

So a couple of weeks ago I very randomly (as are most of my actions/obsessions) decided I wanted to make pizza from scratch. Dough from scratch, sauce from scratch and all of that. I quickly got to work reading all my favorite food blogs for inspiration and found a dough recipe. I feel lucky that the first dough recipe I ever tried was pretty much the best dough recipe ever....and am not sure if I will ever bother with another.

Anyway... I couldn't believe how EASY it was to make the dough! It literally takes barely any ingredients, dumped in the food processor...and one recipe makes enough dough for 3 pizzas. We mixed up the dough and then had to let it rest for about an hour. We left the dough looking like this:

We went out to run an errand (ie-buy a pizza stone) and came back to this:

crazy right??
Anyway, we used 1/3 of the dough to make pizza that night and froze the other two individually for pizza another night. I decided on a fontina cheese and mushroom pizza with homemade garlic tomato sauce. We prepped all the ingredients, pre-heated the stone in the oven at 500 for 30 minutes (the secret to the perfectly cooked crust!) and got ready to cook the pie....until...distaster struck.....we could not get the pizza off the counter in one piece. We had no idea what to do. Our perfectly prepared pizza would NOT come up..and we now had a 500 degree pizza stone that we were also trying to deal with. By the time we finally got the pizza on the stone, the results were not pretty....and due to the way the dough kind of folded over itself while trying to get it on the freaking stone, it was raw in some places and cooked in others... but I knew there was hope, because the parts that were good....were real good.

Our first pizza disaster:

I am very happy that the dough made enough for 3 pizzas because otherwise it might have been a while before I attempted pizza again after the last (very stressful) attempt. On Friday, we were getting really low on food and decided to attempt the pizza again with the random toppings that we did have in the house. This time, I made a few changes in my technique. I put a little more cornmeal on the bottom of the crust and rolled out the dough on a piece of parchment paper to allow for easier transport to the stone....this helped the pizza (and my sanity) stay intact. I opted to use olive oil and chopped garlic in lieu of a red sauce and then topped it with what I could find in my fridge pantry. Lucky for me I had some pretty delicious random ingredients laying around. So here is my goat cheese, onion, olive, chicken, tomato, parmesan cheese pizza with olive oil and garlic...and man was it delish! Seriously...perfectly cooked crust with delicious toppings.. I mean it was really really good.

My next attempt is going to be to re-create some Dewey's menu items. Whole cloves of roasted garlic? yes please!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Dog Park Fun

Friday night we spent the evening at the Dog Park Happy Hour. It was really fun! Rob and I got in line for a drink, thinking we would slowly have to take Maggie over to the water and show it to her and encourage her to get in, bu isntead, while we were in line I turned around and she was gone. I looked and saw her splashing around in the water, halfway across the park! So funny! She spend 3 hours splashing in the water, chasing tennis balls and just exploring the park... it was a big night for that mutt... and it was really fun to watch her!
I'm already recruiting dog loving friends for the next "Unleashed" happy hour :)

Here are some highlights from the night!
Maggie found tennis balls in the water (about a million times)

and brought them back for Rob to throw (about a million times.. haha)

and ran around to dry off in the grass

and got her pic in the news :)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Happy Hour at the Dog Park!

Tomorrow night we are attending the coolest thing ever. Happy Hour at the fancy new dog park. Now I love the dog park...and I love happy this is a winning combination for sure. I'm excited to use this as an opportunity to check out this dog park (that is usually fairly expensive) and see if Maggie likes it. It's got lots of water features which are the only things that are really any different from our usual (free) dog park...but maggie loves shallow water (emphasis on the shallow...she is a wading dog not a swimming dog)... Any dog owners/dog lovers/happy hour enthusiasts....please feel free to join me, Rob and Maggie for a fun Friday night! You can read all the details here.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

jimmy, rooftop party, baby shower and a diet re-commitment...whew

Well I had a fun and totally exhausting weekend….
Let’s recap.

Thursday I worked from home in the morning and took the afternoon off to pack up the blow up tropical animals, leighs, cheeseburgers, beer and various other Jimmy Buffet Tailgating accessories and headed out the door. We got there with just enough time to get a spot in the lot (these parrotheads are SERIOUS about their tailgating) and to park like assholes so that we could save a spot for our friend who was coming late, and have extra room for our flipcup table and grill…duh.

We spent the afternoon hanging out together, making new friends, letting old men with mullets put parrot tattoos on our chests, challenging random strangers to flipcup, eating cheeseburgers and just walking around to witness and take part in the general Jimmy Buffet debauchery.

Friday I was off work again and tried to sleep in a little before going over to help cook and get things ready for 080809, aka Krista’s Rooftop Birthday Bash. Unfortunately I didn’t get many pictures…and none until it was dark (so I missed the awesome views of downtown)…but it was on a rooftop with bartenders, a ridiculous spread of delicious food (cant believe I didn’t get a pic of all our hard work!), cocktails and lots of friends all dressed up to celebrate.

Saturday, Martin and I packed up the car to head up to Cleveland for Grzybowski’s baby shower! As expected it was a long trip after those past two days of fun….but it was very fun to have all the OU ladies together. We snacked on baby shower food, watched Grz open some gifts and then stayed for a bonfire later that evening…to be able to spend more time together. It was a relaxing and fun night.

Sunday it was time to pack the car back up and head home. I’m so glad that it was Martin’s turn to drive because I was lagging at that point. When I got home I made Rob pick up Boston Market because I was STarVIng and gobbled it up. I then promptly decided that the renewal of the diet started tomorrow (which was Monday).

I’m going to post some of my food/exercise on the blog to try to stay motivated.
I went back to the gym last night for the first time in two weeks and my body is happy/angry all at the same time today. I strapped on my trusty heart rate monitor and burned 600 calories last night, which made me happy.

Then I went home and made this delicious (and super healthy) version of Chicken Piccata for dinner for Rob and I. mmmmmm. I want to eat this again for lunch. It was seriously delicious. Lemony, salty...just plan tasty...