Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Book Babes 4th Annual Christmas Party & Ornament Exchange

It's hard to believe that our little book club has been going strong for 4 years!!

Sunday we celebrated Christmas with a champagne brunch and an ornament exchange....
We had a delicious spread food including sausage rolls, a tatertot casserole, french toast casserole, fruit salad, a yogurt parfait bar, free flowing mimosas and everyone's favorite pumpkin cookies for dessert!!

Here is some of our day in pictures:

Looking forward to more book babin' in 2011!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Restaurant Review- Amarin Dollar Sushi

Rob and I were craving sushi last night (let's be honest. I am always craving sushi) and decided to finally check out Amarin's Dollar Sushi Menu. (which is available Monday- Wed).

The back of this menu included all kinds of "rules" that I should have taken a picure of...including but not limited to..
  • no ordering more sushi until you have eaten the sushi you already ordered
  • to take out
  • no reservations
  • no substitutions
  • etc

Why do all sushi places always have this waving cat? anyone?

So $16 later we had two rolls and 8 pieces of sushi... While the menu is limited... I still think this is a good deal... The rolls pictured are a spicy tuna roll and a california roll. Both were good, but I think next time we'll be going for the "screaming" spicy tuna. The pieces were not as big as they sometimes can be...but for $1 each I was pretty happy...

Amarin, your dollar sushi is delicious and your service is good. We will be back.

Amarin Thai & Sushi on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Halloween Weekend 2010

OMG I'm alive!! I will say that wedding planning has been keeping this girl quite busy lately....but not too busy to enjoy a beautiful fall Halloween weekend....

We had a blast at Krista's Halloween Party...
UNICORNS AND GLITTER!!- Flo from the progressive commercials

Saturday morning we headed north to Dayton to check out a rental company. Maybe before we made the drive all the way up I should have asked more questions as we sat in a COLD small room with more crap than you can ever imagine shoved into it. A sales lady with a winnie the pooh t-shirt and a child that would not SHUT UP topped off the delightful small town experience...

Afterwards we passed Ikea to pick up some wedding related items but unfortunately they were out of what we came for....but we somehow managed to spend a good amount of money anyway.... and I oohed and ahhed over the table decorations.... I need to have a dinner party stat just so I can set my table like this!

Then it was down to Macy's for some more wedding related fun...Registering! For those who have not done this it is super fun at first....you want it? Scan it! But after a while it gets overwhelming and STRESSFUL. Good thing Rob almost instantly knows when I have hit my overwhelmed place and encourages we move on to the next department...we can always come back. I love weddings and doing whatever I can for the people I love to make whatever I can amazing...but the thought of people doing this for me is almost more overhwhelming and emotional than I can think about!
We topped our long day off with a cold bottle of wine at one of our favorite BYO Sushi places.

Sunday I was excited for some cooking...

Some spicy white chicken chili went into the crockpot and my very first attempt at making fresh homemade bread... (well second attempt if you count the absolute disaster that was actually the first attempt)- good thing yeast comes in a three pack!

And what is chili without toppings... nothing if you ask me.

Sour cream, crackers, cheese, green onions, jalapenos and some freshly baked bread....

We feasted on this spread, dragged the firepit to the front yard and passed out candy to the kiddos.... Welcome Fall!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Restaurant Review- Chez Nora

This review is a long time coming as it's from Krista's Birthday back on 8/8...but here goes anyway! Chez Nora is a cute little spot located in Mainstrasse in Covington. We had a huge, loud party ready to celebrate and they couldnt be more accomodating! At the end of the night I even made a point to tell the owner what a great job our waitress did with our large group and he was proud to tell me our waitress was his lovely wife :)

Now onto the food...
First off I was lucky enough to be sitting next to Carrie, who ordered this appetizer.... I guess maybe its not on the menu anymore since I can't find on the online menu...but regardless it was enormous perfectly cooked scallops topped with a delicious sauce. The stuff underneath it were nothing to write home about but man those scallops were delicious... almost left me wishing I had those and a side salad for my meal.

For my meal I had a salad...if you can even call it that. Obviously I knew when ordering it I was ordering a salad with a calorie equivalent of a couple of big macs, but MAN was it good!!!

Filet Tips Salad:
A salad of chopped romaine lettuce, red onions, tomatoes, asparagus, bleu cheese and garlic-horseradish redskins, topped with filet beef tips

This was one delicious salad. A Salad with steak and potatoes on it?? yes please! really really good. and hearty... I definitely didnt finish it...

Rob ordered the Vegetarian Pesto Pasta:
A generous variety of sauteed vegetables, tossed in our signature basil pesto, topped with parmesan cheese

He really loved this pasta dish too... I mean what's not to love. Homemade pesto, pasta, sauteed veggies...cheese...pretty much a winner in my book!

Also- here is someone's random dish. I cant remember who's or what it is....but I'm gonna throw it in here anyway :)

Happy (extremely) belated birthday to Krista!

After dinner we headed upstairs to the rooftop deck for another drink before hitting the streets of mainstrasse for some birthday fun. Speaking of the rooftop deck, Tuesday is half price wine night and a great place to hang out and enjoy a bottle of wine with a friend... go here!

Chez Nora on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 16, 2010

First Soup of the Fall! - Bean Soup!

One of my favorite things about fall.....SOUP season! I ADORE soup...but who wants an oven or a burner going for hours when it's 90 degrees out? or a hot liquidy dinner after getting back from a sweaty dogwalk? That's one of my most favorite things about when the weather starts to change and the slow cooking soups and other recipes I love to spend the day making a slow cooked meal..

A co-worker of mine (hi nancy!) was eating some homemade bean soup at lunch the other day that were leftovers from a dinner made by her dad... from that moment on I have been craving the bean-y goodness and scoured the internet for some healthy bean soup recipes.... and in the process, discovered something wonderful...

Bob's Red Mill 13 bean soup mix. This guy has EVERYTHING. Navy, black, red, pinto, baby limas, large limas, garbanzo, red lentils, great northern, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, yellow splits, green splits, and lentils.

The result is a THICK, delicious, filling, warm soup that seriously yum.
If you are looking for a quick weeknight soup recipe, this is NOT it... it takes a little forethought (soaking the beans overnight) a little prep time and about 3.5 hours of simmer time...but I can;t wait to make it on a Sunday afternoon in the winter and have it fill the house with smells and warmth until dinner time..
So let's get cookin!

Rinse the dried beans and put them in a BIG bowl..they will expand up to 3 times their size! After soaking overnight....throw out that water and add the beans, an onion (or two), some ham (we used those tiny little cubed up pieces you can buy so we have a little ham in every bite- but this would certainly be a good use of leftover ham...or no ham at all if you prefer to make it vegetarian!)

Bring it to a boil and then let it simmer for 2 and a half hours until some of the beans start to break up and thicken the soup and you have this going on.... yum.

At this point we're gonna add our tomatoes, garlic, chili powder and the juice of one lemon and let it simmer away for ANOTHER hour....

We put ours in individual containers (1cup is only 1 weight watchers point...and super filling... it gets an A+ for the bridal diet!)


Actual recipe with exact measurements of everything below:
20 ounces assorted beans
1 lb of ham cubes
1 large onion, chopped
15 ounces canned diced tomato
1 teaspoon chili powder
Juice of a lemon
1 - 2 cloves garlic, minced

NIGHT BEFORE: Rinse the beans and pick out any dried beans. Cover with 2 quarts of water and leave to soak overnight.

DAY OF: Put the beans in a very large pot or Dutch oven. Cover with two quarts of new water. Add the ham and onion. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for 2 1/2 hours.

Add the tomatoes, garlic, chili powder and lemon juice and let simmer for another 30 - 60 minutes.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Israeli Couscous with Chicken, Mushrooms, Asparagus and Garlic

A couple of weeks ago we had NRN (New Recipe Night) with our friends Suzi and Wall. Trying to stick to my bridal diet, I emailed Wall a quick email asking him what vegetables he considered edible, to which he replied:

"How about potatoes, corn, green beans, asparagus, peas??, mushrooms?"

Regardless of the fact that only 3 of these 6 choices are actually vegetables (love you Wall!)... I got to work making a delicious dish that would be palate pleasing to my guests....

First I got the mis en place ready....Vital for when you have people over for dinner...if everything is chopped up/cleaned up you can cook when your guests arrive without being completely frazzled!
Here we have:

Olive Oil
A container of baby bellas
1 large shallot, peeled and minced
2 large clove of garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
pinch of Kosher salt and some freshly ground black pepper
1.5 pieces of diced/seasoned chicken, browned on the skillet then taken off and covered with foil before fully cooked
1 teaspoon of butter
2/3 cup Israeli couscous
1 1/4 cups hot chicken broth
1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional for sprinkling
Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. When it begins to shimmer, add the mushrooms and cook, stirring as needed, until mushrooms are tender and just beginning to brown. Add the shallots and garlic and saute for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the curry powder and the Herbes de Provence and saute for one minute, then season with a bit of salt and pepper.

Add 1 teaspoon of butter, allow it to melt, then pour in the Israeli couscous. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, allowing the couscous to toast and brown slightly. Add the hot chicken broth and stir well to combine, scraping any browned bits up from the bottom of the pan. Add the asparagus, the garlic scapes and the leaves from 4 sprigs of fresh thyme. Stir well to combine.

Bring the mixture to the boil then immediately reduce heat to low, add the mostly cooked chicken cubes, cover and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes or until couscous is tender and most of the broth has been absorbed. Before serving, add in 1/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and stir to melt and combine.
Serve immediately, garnished with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Enjoy! Yummmmmm!
I just can't say enough how much I LOVE israeli couscous...and this dish had the slight curry flavor, the crunch of the asparagus and the soft deliciousness of the mushrooms. VERy yummy lil weeknight meal!

Recipe adapted from here

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Catch up of my Life in Pictures

Ok OK OK okok. I know I've been gone for a while....but look what happened while I was away!:

yaaaay!! Can't wait to marry my bestest friend and my love! What a lucky girl I am :)

Followed by an immediate suprise engagement party!!

Then 4 days later we were off to a 4 day weekend in NYC for Rob's cousin's wedding:

and while we were there... a lil site seeing

and of course a NY City hot pretzel from a street vendor!

Followed by a Connecticut baptism for Rob's newest Nephew:

Baby Matthew!

and since then between venue hunting, working and bridal magazine reading, I've been one busy lady.....but I promise new updates, food reviews and wedding obsessions very soon....

Thursday, August 19, 2010

What's Been Cookin

There is something about the summer that makes creative cooking almost come to a halt. I find myself making a lot of stuff I already know how to do that is fast and easy (taco salad) and a lot of things that are practically just assembled instead of cooked....(the other night I had an apple and popcorn for dinner...)

But, here are a few yummy things we've been cooking up lately though...

I decided to make a lower calorie version of a dish I made a while back and swap out the whole wheat pasta for some spaghetti Squash. Add a little homemade pesto made with the basil growing out on our back deck and a little sauteed chicken to the roasted and scraped spaghetti squash and voila...pure deliciousness...

One morning we were feeling fancy and decided on a homemade brunch of eggs benedict and spicy roasted potatoes... I even whipped out some of the old culinary school skills and make a little hollandaise for topping it...delicious!

A lot of vegetarian meals also get consumed around here in the summer. This was a ridiculously simple dish of a can of black beans and a can of rotel sauteed together, added to some millet and topped with a dressing made of lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, chili powder, cumin, allspice, salt, pepper and a pinch of cayenne.. served with a side of fresh corn on the cob. mmmmmm

We've also been eating all over the city...more posts to come soon. Promise!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Restaurant Review- Chinese Imperial Inn

I was driving around with a co-worker for work around lunchtime the other day in Sharonville and we both started getting hungry. She was seriously craving chinese food, especially since her husband doesn't like it so she never gets to eat it....so we pulled over so I could pull out the iPhone and find the closest chinese joint. "Chinese Imperial Inn" it was and we headed there for some traditional american chinese food...

Here is the outside of the restaurant, which made me wonder if it was even still in business....but it was so in we went!

We sat down and were immediately brought a bowl of crispy noodles with two dipping sauces and a pot of hot tea... I like that!

We got a lunch special that came with either soup or an eggroll.. I went with the eggdrop soup and it was good...especially with all those cripsy noodles to use as garnish!

For lunch I ordered the boneless chicken cantonese and it was enough for this meal plus 2 more later... I could have used a little more sauce but all and all, it was pretty good cheap chinese food...

Speaking of cheap...this entire meal cost me $5.....$6 with a 20% tip. Crazy.

If you are in Sharonville and looking for a quick, cheap lunch...this is your spot...

Chinese Imperial Inn on Urbanspoon