Kitchen Beautification Project

19 05 2010

Now that I’m between jobs, I’m starting to get a little squirrely, which only means one thing: I need an outlet for my creative energy. The kitchen beauticiation prject is an all-encompassing one that entails a total makeover of the kitchen, as well as its contents.

I have always made of a point of saying that I want us to eat better – more produce and lean meat, less processed food, etc. I’ve always been a big fan of the Clintonville Farmers’ Market and I make a point of getting to know the vendors and what they have to offer. My latest trip yielded sheer gold.

Check out this gorgeous salad I pulled together with fresh spinach, strawberries, blackberries, and homemade vinaigrette.

Of course, the downside of a trip to the Farmers’ Market is trying to figure out where to put everything. Behold the disaster that is the inside of my refridgerator.

As you can see from the dark and blurry photo, everything is crammed in there and is in no particular order. It’s next to impossible to find things and we lose an incredible amount of leftovers because we have no idea what’s in there.
I just read an article in Real Simple about how to organize your refridgerator and let me say that Rubbermaid’s Produce Savers are a godsend! This is your garden variety food storage container, but it has a thing that goes in the bottom that controls moisture and keeps food off of the bottom of the container. Apparently, I’m a little late to the party here – restaurants have been using these for years.
Note: I’m not even being encouraged to promote this product. I just like it a lot!

I also added a lazy susan to the inside of the refridgerator. It takes up a decent amount of space, but at least you can spin it and find your condiments. Obviously, this project is nowhere close to being done, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Kitchen Beautification Challenge: I have very minimal space in my kitchen and have a pantry that lives behind a closed door. It’s cramped and dark in there and finding my spices is a pain, so phase 2 of this project will be giving this space a much-needed makeover. What kitchen organization tools work for you?

Let the Games Begin

10 05 2010
One of the things I love about this time of year is the number of food-oriented festivals that pop up. Let’s be honest – any event with a name that begins with “Taste of” is a good thing in my book.

Taste of Powell was a fine way to kick off this glorious time of year. Held at the always-spectacular Columbus Zoo, 16 local establishments offered samples of their favorite entrees. Upon arrival, I greeted by this guy.

Now, onto the food. A few of my favorites…

Liberty Tavern offered pulled pork sliders house smoked pork smothered with a sweet Carolina BBQ sauce, topped with bacon and cheddar.

Liberty also brought out one of their signature dishes – Kahlue Shrimp, which are jumbo shrimp, sautéed in a sweet and spicy Kahlua butter sauce, and served with creamy risotto.

Flyers Pizza had a fantastic barbecued chicken pizza. This monster consisted of marinated chicken, red onion,3-cheese blend (provolone, cheddar, and pepper jack), cilantro, and was topped with my all-time favorite BBQ sauce – Sweet Baby Ray’s.

Another new favorite in the pizza category was Jet’s Pizza, which had an incredible deep dish pizza. Really, deep dish is my least favorite style of pizza, but I loved this whopper of a pizza with its butter crust.

Kogen’s had a shrimp salad sushi roll, which was incredible – Crisp and fresh, I’m definitely  going back the next time I’m in the mood for sushi. Just two complaints – one being pouring soy sauce onto a paper plate, which tends to absorb everything, and the other being trying to eat sushi standing up when I’d much rather have time to enjoy, rather than sucking it down and moving onto the next item. Sigh…

Gooseneck Tavern (sorry, no website) had what I considered to be the most original offering of the night. Greek Nachos, as you can see, have the typical components of a Gyro – lamb, feta, tomato, scallions, red onion, and cucumber sauce – but served on pita wedges, rather than in the usual pita pocket. Definitely a cool twist on what we usually see at these events.

Finally, if I had to pick a favorite restaurant from Taste of Powell, it would be Lost Shepherd Tavern. They had an absolutely gorgeous Tomato-Tamato salad, which is their spin on the classic Caprese salad. It consists of balsamic-glazed romaine chiffonade, fresh mozzerella cheese, french bread crostini, basil pesto drizzle, and a vbariety of fresh tomatoes. This is one of my favorite salads, but it can be awfully predictable, so I appreciated Lost Shepherd’s variation. What I want to know is where they got their produce – I can only find sad, pale tomatoes, and these were gorgeous, so wherever they go, I want to go there, as well.

Lost Shepherd also offered their Carolina Crab Dip, which is a rich and creamy Carolina Crab and Artichoke Dip, served with warm flatbread. Seriously, I could have eaten a bucket of this.

Note: In the interest of total disclosure, I attended Taste of Powell for free as a member of Tastecasting. We are not professional food critics (thought I’m certainly opinionated when it comes to food), nor are we paid. We are invited to attend these events in order to raise awareness of the establishments involved.

5 01 2010

A new blog post about a few of my favorite things – jewelry, social media, and pizza – Coming Soon to a Geek Near You –

Bob Evans Summer Menu Review

12 05 2009
Yep, it's hard to be me!

Yep, it's hard to be me!

Last night, I was one of the lucky few to be invited to preview the summer menu at Bob Evans, which I was excited about because the chain is making major changes to keep up with the times – including the use of social media in its marketing strategies, which is how I came to be invited.

Bob Evans has undergone major changes – from redecorating the dining rooms to revamping the menu. When asked why these changes were necessary, Executive Chef, Restaurant Division, Brian Murphy told me that the core deomographic of the typical Bob Evans customer is shifting and they are trying to appeal to a younger customer who doesn’t want to “trade down.”

When I think of Bob Evans, I think of the hokey experience I have had there my entire life – overly country decor and servers who are likely to say “howdy” at least once during my time in the store. However, the newer, hipper Bob Evans was a welcome change – smaller, more intimate dining areas painted in soft colors complete with brushed nickel pendant lights, wall-mounted flatscreen TV’s, and contemporary artwork. The menu itself reflects a more contemporary feeling, too – “homestyle” dishes with a contemporary flair. The restaurants now offer free wifi and the chain can be found on both twitter and facebook.

So, without getting overly gushy, here are the highlights of the new summer menu. Mark your calendar – it hits stores May 14th.

Blue Ribbon Apple Pie Fries ($3.99) These remind me of what I remember McDonald’s apple pies tasting like years ago, and I mean that in the best possible way. I probably wouldn’t order these as an appetizers, but I’d definitely order them for dessert.

Loaded Baked Potato Bites ($4.99) These are the ultimate in comfort food. Lightly breaded and fried potato bites with cheddar cheese and bacon, and served with a side of ranch dressing.

Itsy Bitsy Sandwiches ($6.99) This is a trio of slider-like sandwiches (pot roast, pulled pork, and sausage), served atop a pile of fries. Of the three sandwiches, the sausage one was my favorite – mild sausage, topped with American cheese and a pickle. I could eat these for breakfast and be a very happy girl, indeed.

Bob-B-Q is back, baby!

Oven-Roasted Chicken ($9.99) This is the juciest barbecued chicken I have ever had. Just one complaint: as good as the sauce is, I wish it has a little more “oomph!” to it. The sauce is a perfect blend of spicy and sweet, but something named “Wildfire” deserves to have a little ore kick.

Baby Back Ribs ($11.99) Topped with Bob Evans award-winning Wildfire Sauce, these slow-roasted ribs literally fall off the bone.

Just Desserts

Red, White, and Blueberry Supreme Pie
hits stores in mid-June and is a luscious blend of creamy cheesecake-like filling, strawberries, blueberries, and whipped cream.

Two minor complaints
I was lukewarm about the pulled pork sandwich (Itsy Bitsy Sandwiches) because the pork was slightly on the mushy side and the hamburger bun it was served on didn’t help things, plus, I didn’t think the American cheese and pickle slice worked with it. If I were to build this sandwich, I would put it on brioche and top it with coleslaw.

Also, the menu design itself is a tad generic and doesn’t fit with the brand’s redesign. Also, there was no nutritional information to be found, so do your homework ahead of time if you need to know which entrees are low-cal, etc, because Bob is not about to share that bit of info with you.

Overall grade: A-

Political Correctness Run Amok?

1 08 2008

I don’t know if you follow Advertising Age like I do (well, I have to!), but the latest ad under fire comes from our friends at Snickers.

Seriously, people are all worked up, saying that this is a direct attack on the gay community. I, for one, take this as it was intended – entertainment that sells. First of all, Mr T = AWESOME, pure and simple. Sheer genius to bring this icon of the 80’s into the next generation. Second, I applaud any and all attempts to lampoon speed walking. Finally, and this really irritates me, why do people feel the need to look for something by which to be offended? Isn’t it time for people to get over themselves and just have a laugh?

Tonight, the ladies next door are having yet another cornhole tournament. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – no one should love cornhole that much. It’s been four nights in a row. Enough already! I’m about to kidnap their scarlet and grey cornhole boards and burn them! Pipe down, already!

Finally, Hubs has channeled his inner Lance Armstrong and is now totally into his new bike. Yay!!! He’s sure it will make him buff and happy in no time. I’ll settle for happy!

Speaking of Hubs, he always gives me a hard time about the house “smelling like a Hallmark store” whenever I burn candles. Sound familiar?

Taunted By My Lunch

29 07 2008

Today, Hubs got me a piece of cracktastic ecstacy known as a Lean Cuisine flatbread melt thingie for lunch (and potato chips to go with it, but we won’t go there!). So I was looking forward to it all morning. When lunch rolled around, I grabbed my little box out of the freezer, ripped and rolled back, per the directions. But when it came time to break the damned thing out of the plastic, it just wasn’t happening. Seriously, I could hear it snickering, “work for it, fatty!” That’s why they call it Lean Cuisine – you can’t open it, hence the lean part because there is no cuisine happening if you can’t break the f*cker out of the package! For the record, I love these things, although my last experience wasn’t so great – another “yeah, right, you’re going to open this” experience followed by boiling-lava-hot bleu cheese sauce dripping down the front of my black blouse and staining it a la Monica Lewinsky. I’m pretty sure my lunch laughed at me that day with a hearty, “neener, neener, neener!” I should have known better!

Hubs is still having issues. He hates his job and is getting sucked into the mentality of how hopeless it is and that he’s never going to do any better. I try to buoy him, but it’s not working. Does anyone else have a depressed spouse/SO? Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? Last night, he accused me (after having stood up for myself and telling him that I was not going along with another one of his harebrained schemes he only comes up with in a fit of desperation, of wanting to leave him. Where did that come from? I’m pretty sure those words never escaped my lips! And just because he came up with it, that doesn’t make it a good idea!

Off the Wagon, Dang It!

26 07 2008

Yep, I’m smoking again. But, before you scold me, can I just say that I picked the absolute WORST week ever to quit smoking? Hubs is still going through his whatever and he’s trying to figure out who and what he wants to be when he grows up…between bitching about his job, bitching about money, and giving up in general because of the hopelessness of it all. So, really, what do I do? Pick a calmer time to try to quit? Or keep up with my current quit effort with the help of my soon-to-be-BFF, Nicorette? I’m just so tired of being angry with him all the time – had he actually put in a decent effort in finding a job, we wouldn’t be in this mess. He’s always looking for a quick fix, rather than weighing his decisions carefully and realizing that today’s quick fix could quickly become a nightmare in the span of a few short weeks.

Today, I was home with the kidlets and I’m amazed there wasn’t a homicide. The SD still hasn’t grasped the fact that she’s the kid and that we’re the adults. She helps herself to our stuff and ruins it, tries to tell us where she’s going, rather than asking. But the coup de gras would have to have come this afternoon. After I made her ask if she could go to her friend’s house (for the record, I said yes, but only AFTER she cleaned her room), she huffed up to her room to clean. After she’d been upstairs for about 3 hours, I went up to see what was going on. She didn’t do anything. So, she was grounded today – no computer, movies, or leaving the house for any unsanctioned activity. I even had her cleaning the baseboards and windows to get rid of dog snot. Sadly, I don’t think she’s ever going to realize that she’s not in charge, which always makes for interesting power struggles.

Right now, I’m baking banana bread and it smells soooo good!