Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Open peep season is almost over, but one could argue that now is the best time go out and stock up, with the heavy discounts applied to those peeps that are still on the shelves. A few days ago, I saw the s'meeps idea on photograzing, and when I saw the candy on sale at a local grocery, loaded up a basket.

There are just a few steps to making s'meeps.

1. Purchase your peeps, and chocolate of choice. Hershey's bunnies seemed to be a no brainer.

2. Pick the bravest looking peep of the bunch to rally your peeps.


Peeps! Prepare for GLORY

3. Assemble the s'meep.

I used the chocolate bunny's ears, which everyone knows are the tastiest part

4. Toast, while watching carefully to prevent a meltdown.

5. Enjoy!

Monday, April 25, 2011


Before I moved in with David to our college apartment in Clifton, I lived in the Loveland/ Indian Hill area with my parents. I had several part time jobs in the Mason Montgomery area, and yes, that includes working the Vortex at Kings Island, (because what kid who grew up in that area didn't do some time in an oh-so-fashionable blue polyblend polo?) and I drove through Fields Ertel several times a week.

Nowadays, I rarely venture up North, except when visiting my Dad. Driving around Mason, Westchester and Montgomery, I am usually struck by two things.

1. There is crazy development up there. What was once fields or lots are now entire massive shopping centers. Where'd that Whole Foods come from?
2. It's scary. It's the traffic that's frightening to me. I'm honestly surprised that only my first car was totaled by someone running a red light.

But there are lots of good things, despite the automotive congestion and exponentially expanding suburban sprawl. Lots of new restaurants, like Smashburger, have sprung up, and when my Dad wanted to visit one of them for his 51st birthday, I certainly wasn't going to turn him down. I did, however, ask him to drive there.

David and I each got different burgers with different sides. I chose the "Spicy Baja burger"($5.99) with guacamole, fresh jalapeƱos and pepper jack on a chipotle bun, and David ordered the classic ($5.99). I got the seasoned fries, and David picked the fried pepper rings.

pepper rings ehn-hance!

The burgers are thick, and rather prettily presented. I can appreciate the artful (though spicy) jalapeƱo arrangement. I really enjoyed the chipotle bun, and I like the fact there are several buns to choose from. The fries were nice and crispy, and the pepper rings were definitely interesting, though a little salty for us.

artful spicy arrangement

If we were up in that area again, I think we'd return to Smashburger. All the employees were friendly, food was served quickly, and the burger, especially on the chipotle bun, was tasty. I'd say it beats out Five Guys, which is quite a feat.

Smashburger on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A grilled cheese a day...

As many of my friends and acquaintances know, I'm pretty fond of cheese. Okay, that's an understatement. I may have a teeny, weeny cheese problem.

I also enjoy grilled cheese sandwiches. A lot. Most days when I come home from work for lunch, I have enough time in my lunch hour to heat my cast iron skillet (bought and reserved specifically for grilled cheese sandwiches) make a grilled cheese, eat lunch, then head back to work.

I've made different grilled cheeses with varying ingredients on 4/4, 4/5, 4/6, 4/7 and 4/8. This weekend I learned that April is National Grilled Cheese Month, so it only makes sense to continue the cheesy, delicious trend I've started.

So I've decided, for the rest of the month, to make grilled cheeses for weekday lunch when I come home. There's only one rule:

No repeats, including sandwiches I have made months prior. I figure this will force me to be a little more creative with the sandwiches.

Rather than posting my progress on the blog, I'll be posting pictures each day on my twitter feed here. I've already got a week's worth of grilled cheese planned out. Any combinations that I shouldn't miss? Got a favorite? Leave a comment and I'll try to work it into the schedule!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Bellevue Bistro:

David and I have different priorities and routines on the weekends.

It can probably be explained with how we were each raised; in my parents' house, we were rarely allowed to sleep in. Weekends were time for chores and errands and outings to the zoo or the antique car show or bike rides or something. Rise and shine...here's your weekend itinerary. Ready, set. go.

David, on the other hand, views weekends as a chance to recharge, to sleep in, and to chill out. By the time he's up and moving, I've already planned out the day, and sometimes, I've even gone to the store and come back.

But most of the time, this happens:

"Hey, David....David..."


Because of our conflicting ideologies on weekends, brunch rarely happens unless we plan on it. I don't put it on the schedule, and, after running around doing errands, usually don't get hungry until after most brunches are over.

Brunch is a meal, unlike dinner, that has to be specifically planned for. But there are a few exceptions, a few places that will stop me from filling our weekends with errands, social events and chores and put brunch on the schedule. Bellevue Bistro is one of them.

We've visited twice now for brunch, and the menu has recently changed and expanded. Everything that we've had there has been delicious, and some dishes come out on a almost sizzling, too-hot-to-touch flat skillet, which is pretty awesome. The place has character, with the Star Wars memorabilia and action figures placed strategically around the restaurant, and the local, rotating artwork on the walls.

I've gotten the goetta sandwich ($5.95) , and the biscuits and gravy (also $5.95), and both were excellent. The skillet potatoes were lightly seasoned and delicious.

David has tried the Kentucky hot brown Benedict ($7.95) with fresh baked biscuit, tomatoes, bacon, turkey, cheese, crab meat and fried eggs, topped with hollandaise. He raved about it all the way home. He also ordered one of their "breakfast bakes" and said it was fantastic.

We've met my mom there for brunch both times, and she chose to go a little lighter and try one of the salads on the lunch menu, which she liked.

We like Bellevue Bistro a lot, and I'm sure that we'll be back there soon.

Bellevue Bistro on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Los Aztecas in Louisville:

I threw up my hands in frustration and huffed at David. At the same time, David’s stomach let out an unhappy rumble. “This is stupid.” I said.

We were trying to enjoy the first night of our vacation to Louisville. But instead of seeing the sights and exploring the city, we were engaged in a knock-down, drag out discussion of where we should go for dinner. It was now rounding the half hour mark, and we were no closer to a decision than we were when we had sat down to weigh our options.

Someone had to take a stand. “Let’s go to Los Aztecas.” I said. Earlier in the day at Louisville Glassworks, someone had endorsed the place, and that was good enough for me, especially after our lack of consensus over the past half hour.

“Los Aztecas? Mexican? Are you sure?” David questions, bringing up the fact that we are at Taqueria Mercado downtown in Cincinnati at least one night a week.

“Yes. Los Aztecas. No more discussion! Shoes! Now!” I said, tossing David a pair of socks and grabbing my coat.

And off we went.

Los Aztecas is pretty much what we were expecting, and the staff were friendly. The restaurant was quiet, but it was a weeknight, a few days before Thanksgiving. Because we were on vacation, we decided to live it up, with margaritas, tequila shots, and the one of the biggest beers I’ve ever seen ordered at a Mexican restaurant.

We ordered the cheese dip, which had an amazing cherry tomato flavor, but a weird texture. It was almost as if the acids in the tomato had separated the cheese. Despite that, I still liked it for the flavor alone.

I chose to try a tostada, which comes default with barbacoa, and the carnitas with rice and beans. The carnitas were excellent, but the beans were a bit of a let down--they could definitely use some more fat and maybe some additional seasoning. The rice was unremarkably good or bad.

David ordered the one of their special plates, which he liked.

Overall, I'd say Los Aztecas is a pretty strong Mexican restaurant, and if David and I ever end up in an epic argument about where to eat for dinner in Louisville again, there is a good chance we'd return.

Los Aztecas Mexican on Urbanspoon

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Staycation Dinner:

David and I have been watching a lot of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations lately. On the show, he travels to different nations and countries, being a tourist, with a general focus on food and drink.

We have a love hate relationship with Anthony Bourdain.

We love his show. We hate Anthony, for nothing more than he’s out globetrotting, spending his days exploring Paris or on a beach, and we’re in Cincinnati in the middle of an unseasonable cold snap. Whenever a picturesque scene of the countryside of New Zealand or Puerto Rico comes into view, David and I jealously glare at the screen. “Asshole.” We mutter to ourselves. Not fair.

So for David’s latest welcome back dinner, I decided if we couldn’t go on vacation, I’d just bring the vacation to us. I quickly mapped out the plan for dinner.

you mean you don't mind map your dinners? Just me?

Vacation is all about relaxation, so I decided to keep the menu simple and Hawaiian themed. Another important part of vacation is the scenery.

kitty stayed out of the paint...mostly.

Spam is actually pretty popular in Hawaii. In fact, an item called “musubi”, spam wrapped in seaweed nori wrapper atop sushi rice, is so popular it’s sold as a snack in some gas stations. Thus, spam was a necessity.

I wanted cheese, but decided to put it inside the burger, juicy lucy style. Pineapple went atop the spam, and the burger was served on a homemade brioche bun. Brioche is a fussy dough, and even though the results were not quite what I was expecting, the buns were passable, and the bun was sturdy enough to stand up to the burger and its toppings.

Don't be fooled, the cheese is *inside* the burger

An integral part of vacation, to me at least, are frozen blended drinks. There was just one problem with that. David and I didn’t have a blender. It’s one of those things that we put off getting, pored over reviews and consumer reports for, and wavered indecisively about for the last few years.

With David out of town, I was free to go out and buy the blender of my choice. I didn’t know how David would react to my decision, but I figured maybe the banner might distract him from my purchase.

So bright... so beautiful... ah, Precious

After some research, I chose the KitchenAid 5 speed, one of the more powerful blenders available. And remember, with great power, comes great responsibility. And great pina coladas.