Category Archives: recipe

My New Sammy – “The BCT”

So, I was craving some bacon the other day and thought I will make a BLT. Unfortunately when I looked we were out of the “L”. Oh man, that made me REALLY want that BLT. So I decided to do a little substitute. Cucumber has a similar watery simple crunch like lettuce… BCT Sammy 1The ingredients of my BCT are medium toasted toast, crunchy bacon, tomatoes, cucumbers and mayo. I lightly salt the tomatoes to help bring out the flavor since they are not quite as wonderful this time of year. BCT Sammy 3

I load it up and wall-ah!  It was so delicious! (Or “de-wish-sus” as my son would say.) I like the cucumber even better than the lettuce. It makes the sandwich more moist. Yummmm! Just typing up this quick blog makes me want to go make another. I usually choose a nice wheat bread for my BLTs, so I am going to make that little switch next time around. And, I am sure that this would be a great vegetarian meal with with some Morning Star veggie bacon strips as a substitute. Try one! It will not disappoint.
BCT Sammy logo

Sushi Makers!

A couple of friends in our small group took a Sushi class and threw us a Sushi party to pass on their new skills. I was kinda nervous because even when I’m NOT pregnant, I don’t eat raw fish. But Megan promised me there would be cooked fish and even chicken to choose from. sushi1First we prepped the food. You can see the fish, chicken and shrimp on the left and sliced cucumber, carrot and cream cheese on the right. I love that they had traditional items but some items that were not so scary for newbies like Doug and I. 
sushi collage
We all sat around the table with a cutting board and gloves on. The cutting board to help up move and maneuver our roll, and later to cut one. The gloves helped to keep the rice from sticking to our hands.sushi10

Megan took us through the process, giving us the step by step and helpful hints. sushi collage 2 1. Lay out your seaweed.
2. Add the rice and press to the edge of the seaweed.
3. Sprinkle sesame seeds on the rice, this keeps it from sticking to the cutting board when you flip it over.

sushi collage 3

4. Carefully flip it over. Choose 3 items for your roll. I choose chicken, cucumber, and cream cheese. (Yes I am totally safe!)
5. Roll up by hand.
6. Use a wooden placement sheet covered with saran wrap to get the roll super tight. You can see my friend Dawn pulling towards her while holding tight to the other end of the mat.

sushi14Once you have the roll, you use a knife to slice into bite size pieces. It helps to dip the knife in water before each cut to keep the food from sticking. It keeps the rolls nice and clean cut. sushi7

Doug’s first roll had way too much rice. He said it was his size.

sushi13Isaac enjoyed watching and chasing the dogs around the house. We were all having so much fun I lost track of time and kept him up later than we ever have. He got wild and we finally headed out.

Here is my first finished roll. We had several sauces to dip into. Doug surprisingly like the wasabi  mayo mix and I stuck to the classic soy sauce. Yummy!sushi collage 4

Also, Doug got to use chopsticks for the first time.

Overall, it was such a blast. We have fun friends! And, I guess I like Sushi! Is it still Sushi with chicken? I think I will have to try out the new place in Hyde Park, Fusian. They have chicken too!
sushi logo

**Disclaimer: There is a lot to know about eating raw fish. You cannot just go to Kroger and pick up fish for sushi. Please do your homework about sushi-grade fish before trying it at home.


Way Too Easy Fall Punch

So, have I mentioned that I part-own, manage, teach, and DJ a local Swing Venue, called The SwinGallery? Yep. It is my Thursday hat. I have been dancing almost my whole life and found swing about 14 years ago. I have been in this role for about 12 of those. It is a blast! Anyway, my co-owners call on me at party time to make punch. I try to think up something different depending on the event or season. I take cues from other recipes, but usually make large quantities for our 80+ crowd it is easier just to guestimate amounts and then taste. Nothing says a party for all ages like a non-alcoholic punch, right?

So, now I share with you my way too easy, anyone can do it, I can’t believe it’s that simple..Fall Punch! If you can pour juice, you too can make this punch! (Sorry about the mood lighting, we are just that cool on the mezzanine, pre-party….)

punch 1

  • About a 1/3 of other juices amount ORANGE JUICE
  • 7UP to taste 
  • ICE until chilled
  • Sliced ORANGES to garnish (CRANBERRIES would be fun too!) 

punch 3So that is it! Don’t take it too serious. Dump and sample. Keep it simple, keep it cold. Enjoy!

Punch Lady, out!

punch logo

Kid-friendly Juices for Two

Last week I joined 20,000 of my closest friends on a “beans and rice” fast with my church. The goal was to live on sustenance and give out of our abundance – for one week. We pooled together all the money we saved only eating rice and beans to donate to three charities. We raised a BUNCH of money (I’ll update once I am allowed to share the amount).

I wasn’t sure I could eat beans and rice for breakfast, so instead I did coffee and juice. And, since Isaac has been kinda choosy with his eating, I decided to make some homemade juice that he could share. I found some recipes on Pinterest.
juice 1 bannerJUICE #1 – Orchard Dream 
3 apples / 3 stalks of celery / 4 carrots / tablespoon of ginger

Carrots are a great vegetable to juice. And, even thought I am not a huge carrot lover, I know they are so healthy for me. Great for my skin and vision as well as a cancer preventer. It is a great base for juice. I have often juiced apple and carrot together, but this was my first time using the granny smith apples along with ginger. This was Isaac’s first juice and he loved it! He drank it all down while riding with me to work. I wish I had given him a little more in his cup!
juice 2 bannerJUICE #2 - Pineapple Green Lemonade
1/3 pineapple / 1/2 head of romaine lettuce / 5 stalks celery / 1 cucumber / 1 1/2 small lemons

I was really excited about trying his juice. I love lemonade and was happily surprised when left with a very tart (and still sweet from the pineapple) aftertaste. This recipe made a lot more than the first one. So, I literally was drinking it until lunch. I was full but did not want to waste any of it!  Note that my lemons in this picture were large not small, which was fine with me but a little too tart for Isaac (insert cute toddler pucker face here). The next time I tried this recipe, I reduced the lemon and he liked it much more.

juice5If you are new to juicing you might not know where to start. I am definitely not an expert on juicing, but here are some of my personal opinions and tips.

12 Tips for New Juicers
1. Start with recipes that use vegetables and fruits that you already like to eat.
2. Plan on replacing a meal or a majority of a meal with the juice. Vegetable juices are much heavier and more filling than store bought fruit juices.
3. Prep all your produce before you start juicing. Prep the night before busy mornings. Make sure to wash produce before coring and cutting.
4. Drink your juice cold. This works if you juice produce straight from the fridge too.
5. Juice only enough for one day. Start fresh the next day.
6. Add sweetness (like apples or pineapples) to veggies to bring balance.
7. If you don’t love the taste, use a straw and try again. It kinda begins to grow on you.
8. When you can, drink your veggies and eat your fruits.
9. Clean your juicer right away to save scrubbers elbow.
10. Venture out and try adding new produce to the bases that you already like.
11. If you’re juicing for kids, start them young and get them involved in the process.
12. Juice regularly!

Juicing is a great way to get nutrients into your body without having to consume the whole vegetables! Give a try. It is so good for you and you will love the natural energy!

juicing collage2

Beans and Rice Week!

beans and rice week1 week…it’s not that long, right? I am joining my community at Crossroads (my church) on a challenge. To eat beans and rice, only beans and rice for 1 week. Basically, we are going to sacrifice out of our abundance to be generous to those that aren’t as fortunate. With thousands doing this act of sacrifice, we will have the ability to be super generous to 3 organizations outside of Crossroads.

I have been searching Pinterest for recipes. Here is what I have so far:
beans and rice 1-4 banner
1. Slow cooker Black Beans and Rice Soup with Cilantro and Lime
2. Cuban Style Black Bean and Rice Bowls
3. Jamaican Red Beans and Rice
4. Chipotle Cilantro Lime Rice

Picture not shown:
5. Skyline Black Beans and Rice(Liske way) in a crockpot – One bag of dried black beans, one cup of rice, Cincinnati seasoning packet, and tomato paste & water. Add toppings.

Local chefs are also going to be sharing recipes. People will be posting pics via facebook, twitter and instagram with the hastag #beansandriceweek. I have to admit, I don’t do much cooking with beans and rice. I guess I will be learning, uhhh… now! Time to go soak some beans, I start tomorrow!

More information about Beans and Rice Week can be found on

Go, Spin Dip, Go!

Can you tell that I have been reading too many 1 year old books? Yes? “Go, Dog, Go” is on the nightly rotation along with “Good Night Moon” and “Curious George”. But this dip is not for kids, it is for ME! Well, me and my lucky friends. It was my turn to bring the snack to small group this past week. So I turned to my favorite little recipe collection… Pinterest! I was actually searching for a St. Patty’s Day green treat, but what I found was Martha Stewart’s Spinach Dip Recipe. Yum.

spin dip with banner

I have always wanted to learn to make a Spinach Dip. I get super giddy anytime I find one that I love; there may be excessive hand clapping and squealing. Maybe. I prefer more spinach, less artichoke and just the right amounts of garlic and cheese. Some great ones in Cincy, IMHO, can be found at: The Pub in Hyde Park, Bar Louie in Newport, Teller’s in Hyde Park, and Applebee’s down the road. If I could add a homemade Spin Dip to that list… life would indeed be grand!


  • 2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more for baking dish
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 pounds spinach, cleaned, trimmed, and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 6 ounces reduced-fat bar cream cheese
  • 3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 dashes hot sauce, such as Tabasco
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • Baguette slices, breadsticks, or crackers, for serving


First, I prepped the spinach I have to admit this is the first time that I have cooked with fresh spinach (besides salad). I opened the first bundle and picked off the stems. It took a LONG time.
dip2By the time I got to the second bundle I used my brain and cut the stems while it was still bundled. Genius? Nope, I just needed a wee bit of experience. I washed the spinach and chopped it up, just rough chops.
dip4I threw the onion and garlic in my dutch oven. I let it cook until soft and brown. Oh it smelled so good in my kitchen. Husband came home and groaned as he walked in the door. Always the best hello. (STORY BREAK: I call him “Husband” as a nickname. I know it is not creative but it is sweet to me. I called him “Boyfriend” when we were dating. I loved it! He upgraded to husband 7.5 years ago so his nickname had to change too.)
dip3I added in half of the spinach and let it cook completely until wilted. Then I added this second half right on top and let that wilt down. A few stems spared the knife, but the won’t spare the sauna. Muah-ah-ah!
dip5 dip6Once it all the spinach was completely wilted down, I transferred it to a strainer and with paper towels pushed all the excess liquid out.

In the empty dutch oven, I dumped the cream cheese and milk and stirred until smooth.

dip7Next, the spinach went back into the hot tub along with all the final ingredients: 1/4 cup of the mozzarella cheese, worcestershire sauce, tabasco sauce, salt and pepper.

dip8dip10I greased a shallow baking dish with olive oil and dumped it in. I put the rest of the mozzarella cheese right on top.

One reason I love this recipe is you could totally make it ahead or take it with you to a friend’s house. That is just what I did. Spinach Dip wil travel… as my son says once his shoes are on “Go! Go! GOOO!”


Quick Tip: On the top of the lid I put a sticky note with the temperature and length of time to cook. This is helpful for me and the host once I arrive at our destination.

I have no “after picture” so you’ll just have to trust me… the cheese browned beautifully and my friends were happy. Husband said it needed more cheese, but he is a cheese-aholic. I loved it. This is life-changing people! At least for me. The fact that I can make my own spinach dip means I never have to leave my house again. OK, I am exaggerating just a tad… for emphasis.

Pizza Problems… (You win some, you lose some)

We are a pizza family. My husband who adores pizza and I adore him, so I have excepted his little obsession. I can work with pizza. For a long time we were pizza-and-a-movie-every-Friday-night people. Doug loves a thick crust extra cheese from LaRosa’s, where I crave a veggie lovers from Donato’s (yummy green olives from edge to edge). We would often bounce around from restaurant to restaurant: if they delivered and I had a coupon they’d be on the top of the list.  That was until we moved to our country home where only one pizza place delivers. We got kinda sick of the same thing every week and our ritual fell away.

I was really excited when I came across a pizza recipe in my new America’s Test Kitchen Recipe Book (Season 12). I envisioned making the dough a few days before a Friday. Our ritual would be back and except now it would be homemade -from scratch! And, my honey would groan that I am such a wonderful cook and the best wife ever. (OK, so maybe just a “this is really good babe”).

Like my first trial from this cook book, Chicken Fricasse, I watched the episode via DVD about 113 times. They made it look so simple. It called for only 6 ingredients and the folding of the dough happened in the food processor (I have one of those!). So I ventured down Kroger’s baking aisle looking for bread flour, a first time purchase. I was excited.

2 cups of bread flour
2 teaspoons of sugar
1/2 tsp of instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/2 cups ice cold water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt

First three ingredients into the food processor: Bread flour, yeast, and sugar. Pulsed until mixed.

pizza1Then, I popped on the top on to the food processor, turned it on, and added the ice cold water slowly.

pizza2I pulsed just as the directions had told me.  Let it sit 10 minutes. Then, I added the oil and salt, and blended about 45 seconds. It started to gather to one side and I was afraid to overwork it. So I called it done here.
pizza3I prepped the counter with some vegetable oil to kneed the dough, but as you can see from the picture it was very sticky and a huge mess. I was supposed to knead the dough for about 1 minute, but it was so sticky and it felt, well, wrong. This was where I was like Oh, crap.
pizza4I brought Doug in at this point get his opinion, but he didn’t seem bothered by look of it. So, I plopped the gooey mess into an oiled bowl, covered with saran wrap and put it in the fridge for 24 hours (the minimum). I was planning to make this pizza for my Dad and stepmother who were in town and coming to see us, but now I knew that I might have to create a back-up plan for our dinner guests. Isaac was a big help playing me some background music…ya know, to keep me calm.
pizza7After 24 hours, Doug and I checked the dough. He was all for trying it, but I was nervous to serve it to people, so we waited for Sunday night dinner when it was just us. Honestly, I was about to throw this sucker out and try again, but Doug decided to jump in and see if he could salvage it. He loves his pizza.
pizza6So, he added some flour and kneeded that dough like a man. I set it out to rise for an hour. Not looking so bad here.
pizza8Doug then proceeded to shape the dough, you know to make it like a pizza pie. It was not working… at all. The dough would bounce back to toward him. If you could hear the audio during this picture, it would be me laughing hysterically and saying “I failed!” Doug was still pressing on, though, with the fight to save the dough!
pizza9 He added sauce and cheese and cooked that little failure of mine. Oh, my. Oh, vey. Dasvidaniya! This is NOT what it looked like on ATK. We baked it for 10 minutes.


It came out looking, well, edible. But, I was definitely skeptical.

pizza13Until we cut that baby up and tasted her. It was not too bad. Not great, but not as bad as I had expected back when the dough was bouncing around.
pizza14I have not yet given up on this recipe. I plan to try it again, and even again. It wasn’t hard or very time consuming. I am sure America’s Test Kitchen had to try a few hundred times to get the recipe right, so I’ll take a mulligan on this one.

Yeah, I actually did make a successful pizza this week… an English Muffin Pizza. Easy. Perfection.

Preheat the oven to 425*
Open English muffin
Add sauce and toppings
Bake 8-10 minutes


It doesn’t get easier than this, people!
pizza16And… they tasted like perfection. In all my years of nannying why I have I not made these for my kids? I will definitely be making these again.

You win some, you lose some.

foods to try

Toddler Food Funk

A few months ago, I would proudly claim that my son would “eat anything except mashed potatoes and avocado”. I was proud that he was such a good eater. But, now? My he’ll-eat-anything-son has quickly turned into a he’ll-eat-that-maybe-some-of-the time-son. I wouldn’t call him a picky eater, because he still eats many things, but he is slowly getting preferential to some foods at certain times. He has also taken on a deep passionate affair with his milk. He walks to the fridge and looks at me, signs “please”, and asks me in his way to give him his milk….20 times a day!
He is a healthy boy, weighing in at 28 lbs and 3 oz. a couple weeks ago; I am not at all worried about his health. I do, however, want to make sure that I am giving him enough variety and trying things enough times to give him the opportunity to like them.


Back when Isaac started eating solids, I made a sorta cheat sheet to hang inside the cabinet. It was helpful for Doug and Isaac’s grandparents when they were wondering what was OK to feed him. It has evolved into a short list of his staple foods. I’ve updated it a few times over the last year.

I thought I would add another list – “foods to try” to help me think creatively when preparing foods for him, especially breakfasts & lunches. For dinner we mostly have him eat what we are eating and since we don’t eat the same thing every night, neither does he. Also, his appetite is lowest at dinner.

What did moms do without the internet? I spent 15 minutes searching online and got some good ideas. My favorite finds were Wholesome Toddler Food, Toddler Lunch Ideas, and Feeding the Picky Eater - 17 Tips. I also spent some time reading about toddler nutrition reviewing toddler portion sizes. As I made some notes, I tried not to discount foods that I don’t like, since Isaac already loves things that I don’t care for (like yogurt).
foods to tryI also updated Isaac’s staple list.
staplesI hung them both back in the cabinet where I keep his plates, cups, snacks and etc. I see these notes on a daily basis. I feel like now if I am ever feeling the food funk, I can try  one of these ideas.
cabinet doorI think that the best thing that came out of this little project was being reminded that I already knew a lot about toddler eating. Yep, Isaac is one!! He should be picky, he should be grazing, and it is all OK. Plus, it’s not like I haven’t been down this road with many kids before, and they have all turned out just fine. Through my experiences as a nanny I followed a few unwritten principles. I think that writing them down will remind me to live by them with Isaac as well.

9 Principles to Feed By:
1. Don’t focus on each meal for nutrition, instead look at what the child ate in a day or even week.
2. Don’t stress about food, kids will pick up that
3. Everything in moderation.
4. Keep offering foods over, and over, and 14 times over.
5. Try foods in different locations and served in different containers.
6. Model nutrition.
7. Don’t discount foods I don’t like myself.
8. Sit and eat as a family – enjoy the experience!
9. Kid portions are small.

I plan to relax a bit and remember lessons I have already learned. I also plan to try new things with the boy and new things myself.

Chicken Fricasse Julia Would Be Proud Of!

Just another Tuesday. Time to try a new recipe!

I have a crush on America’s Test Kitchen. Yeah, I have a crush on this TV show. You know how it is, snuggle-up-on-the couch-with-a-warm-blanket-on-a-Saturday-afternoon-during-naptime kinda crush

photoFor Christmas I got Season 12 DVD and Cookbook. It is the best because you can watch the episode (over and over) before you even make it yourself. So before making this dish, I had really watched it about 10 times. Crush, I tell you.

Here is the recipe:
Serves 4 to 6

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts (or thights), trimmed, with salt & pepper
1 T unsalted butter
1 T olive oil
1 lb. mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 T all-purpose flour
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup sour cream
1 large egg yolk
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp lemon juice
2 T minced tarragon (or parsley)


1. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with 1 tsp. of salt and 1/2 tsp of pepper. Heat butter and oil in 12 in skillet over med-high heat until butter is melted. Place chicken in skillet and cook until browned, about 4 minutes. Using tongs, flip chicken and cook until browned on second side, about 4 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to plate.

2. Add mushrooms, onion, wine to now-empty skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated and mushrooms are browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Add flour and garlic; cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Add broth and bring mixture to boil, scraping up any browned bits. Add chicken and any accumulated juices to skillet. reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until breasts register 160 degrees (thighs – 175 degrees), 5 to 10 minutes.

3. Transfer chicken to clean platter and tent loosely with aluminum foil. Whisk sour cream and egg yolk together in a bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly stir 1/2 cup hot sauce into sour cream mixture to temper. Stirring constantly, slowly pour cream mixture into simmering sauce. Stir in nutmeg, lemon juice, and tarragon; return to simmer. Season with salt and pepper to taste, pour sauce over chicken, and serve.

My experience:

So first of all the video of this looked easy and tasty. And, it was called a “great Tuesday night meal” meaning that is was doable after a day at work. It seemed worth a try! I bought all the ingredients I needed; tarragon was the only thing that I had never cooked with. I found it near the mushrooms in the small packets of refrigerated herbs.

I admit… I watched the 10 minute video one last time for a little bit of motivation.

photoI took it step by step and it was all pretty easy and smelled delicious! photo


The book’s directions were simple!I whipped up some garlic mashed potatoes. The sauce paired well with them but may also taste fabulous over egg noodles. (I think I will try that next time).

banner.chickenfricasseBy the way, my husband said that it was “Excellent!” and he is a hard one to please when it comes to food. He even said, “It tastes like something would get at a restaurant!?” I have to admit that it was one of my best ever meals. It is a new staple here in Schraeradise.

Chicken Fricasse is a french recipe and I couldn’t help but think of Julia Child while I made this. I think she would be proud. If not her than Julie her stalk-blogger would!

Give it a try and let me know how you like it!