Thursday, April 30, 2009

nothing beats kfc... khurmagiana freestyle chicken...

Betty and I do not normally eat a lot of Italian food out. Not sure why. I am not normally even a big fan of chicken parmigiana but i decided I would freestyle something together using some recent purchases from the Hills Market. I used Trader Joe's tenderloin chicken.

defrosted Trader Joe's chicken tenderloin patted dry.

seasoned-salt-flour; boring plain bread crumbs with Trader Joe's pasta seasoning; 1 beaten egg

I dredged the chicken in an egg wash with yolk - why waist it you know? Then dusted the chicken in a flour-seasoned-salt blend -- back in the egg wash again -- and then one final dusting in a breadcrumbs-Italian-pasta-seasoning blend.

boring prep shot. chicken browning on iron skillet

The linguine was delicious and cooked in 3 minutes. I used the Rossi Pasta Classic linguine from Hills Market. Marietta Ohio represent.

The pasta sauce was pretty good with everything as well. I used "Cleveland's Own Little Italy Pasta" sauce available at the Hills Market as well.

I also steamed some broccoli and cauliflower to accompany the meal along with a small mixed greens salad with goat cheese and tomatoes.

Oh. And I forgot that we also had garlic bread from Weilands bakery.

Betty and I really enjoyed this meal. There was an authentic restaurant style taste to the pasta sauce that made everything taste good together. Even nicer was that we had mother amounts of leftovers for lunch for the remainder of the week.

divide and conquer. kfc lunch for the week

banana bean at last...bean at last...hail food almighty...banana bean at last...

Betty and I finally made it to Banana Bean Cafe. We tried going on Monday but the German Village location was closed. Betty and I have been craving this place ever since we heard about it during Restaurant Week. Florribean cuisine is what they promise.

awkard angle of chips and salsa.

The first basket is free. $2.00 for refills. I think i like that they charge you so you aren't tempted to eat/waste more. The salsa was a nice smoky chipotle base with fresh tomatoes? Yummy.

fried plantains with ya ya sauce.

They look like wings in the pic above don't they? The plantains were sweet and crispy with a great caramelized taste. The accompanying ya ya sauce was a great spicy tangy sauce for the plantains -- in the spirit of a pepper relish.

#21 off the menu called the Soft Shell B.L.A.T.

Described as: "...Creole dusted Soft Shell Crab, Corn Cob Bacon. Lettuce, Ripe Tomatoes, and Avacado Mash..."

I've never had soft-shell crab before but this was the best crab experience my tastebuds have ever experienced.

Islamadora Fish Taco -- with Shrimp

Described from the menu as: "...Grilled Orange Cilantro Shrimp or Red Stripe Beer Battered Cod, Avocado Mash, Mango-habanero Ketchup, Mexican Crema, Shaved Lettuce, Red Onion, Scallions, and Cilantro Wrapped in a Grilled Soft Tortilla"

Maybe it was the high that my taste buds were already on but this Shrimp Taco packed a flavor punch.

We were having so much fun that we also ordered their chocolate cake for dessert that was a delicious way to close our dining extravaganza.

All in all this place was everything i had hoped it would be with a cherry-tree-on-top. Definitely one of my favorite dining experiences in Columbuse eva. Eva...eva...eva...eva.

P.S. Finally a place that makes a true dirty martini! Extra olive juice in the house!

her name is Bar-rio and she dances on the sand...

Not sure if it was work or something else in the air but I had the get-out-and-eat-bug this week. We decided to finally try Barrio Tapas after striking out at Banana Bean Cafe off of Whittier which we learned was closed on Mondays. We ordered a number of items from their seemingly delicious eclectic menu.

We started off with a pitcher of sangria which was half off for happy hour for $12. The idea that someone might drop $24 for a pitcher was shocking to me. Sangria was so so -- not even in the same ballpark as Barcelona's. The bread with the butter and spiced oil was nice but we only got 3 slices of bread. Come on now.

Started off with the tuna ceviche and both versions of their empanadas.

tuna ceviche with base of lime, basil, siracha

The plating of the meal was the best thing about the ceviche. The lime was too overpowering and I failed to understand what they were trying to do with the taste. The popcorn I could care less for. The radish salad and plantain were tasty but it's not a good sign when radishes are trumping tuna.

crab, almond, goat cheese empanada with corn, pico, avocado puree

I really wanted to enjoy this but it tasted bland to me.

beef and bean empanada

I enjoyed this empanada a bit better but I couldn't really make out the bean that was with it. Beef was alright. Both empanadas had tasty puff pastry but in the end I would've been happier eating a Chili's southwestern eggroll.

At this point I found myself uninspired by the food but wanted to try more of the menu -- good for Barrio Tapas -- but bad for this month's credit card bill. We ordered the watercress & goat cheese salad along with the scallops wrapped in serrano ham. I'm glad we explored the menu. The salad was tremendous and the scallops were delicious as funk. Definitely some of the best scallops i've ever tried -- not no parkay -- not no margarine -- strictly butter -- strictly butter.

watercress & goat cheese with sour orange mojo, pistachio & goat cheese tostada

scallop and serrano ham with mango sherry vinaigrette, cilantro puree

When all is said and done Barrio Tapas is an alright place: a pricey menu with some tasty gems, a great dining environment and a prime downtown location. If we go back it'd be more of a stop off for a drink sort of place while out on the town.

we're betty and bettys...

Betty and I decided to hit up Betty's Sunday night for a throwback evening. As I've mentioned before Betty's always reminds us of the 5 years or so that we had easy access to the Short North when Betty lived at the Greystone. We ordered the crab cakes that were decent for the price and the distant relative of Surly Girl's Ohio nachos named Steve’s Afternoon Delight described as a "big bowl of our house made potato chips covered with cheese sauce, diced romas, green onions, and sour cream".

crab cakes with jalapeno mayo

Steve’s Afternoon Delight

Food was good and thinking about all the wonderful memories we had at Betty's made it twice as nice.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

who eats chocolate pudding this day in age?

I do.

My sister known across Cincy, Dayton, and Athens as the frequent master-maker of chocolate mousse switched up her dessert arsenal with something from the old school...kinda...chocolate pudding.

You're probably asking yourself why is this post worthy? 1 word...okay 1 long hyphenated word..okay technically 9 words with hyphens between them...: it's-Peanut-Butter-whipped-cream-and-Reese-pieces-time!

Game. Match. Pudding.

chocolate pudding with homemade peanut butter whipped cream and Reese pieces

Sunday, April 26, 2009

taco taco man...

After an exciting day at Ikea and Jungle Jims -- Betty and I returned to my sister's house for some tasty ground turkey tacos.

Betty made yummy guacamole to accompany the tacos with fresh tomatoes, guacamole, jalapenos, and limes from Jungle Jims.

ground turkey tacos, guac, mixed greens, sour cream, monterrey jack, don pablos hot salsa, and el yucateco

paper plates and pomodori's pizza...

I like to eat pizza no matter what the name...
finding me with hot sauce the taste will never be the same...
if you come to pomodoris it won't really be lame...
bonafide taste kinda like nyc style but tame...

okay. not quite MIA's paper planes...

Down in Cincy we ordered Pomodori's pizza as advised by the fam. This was my second time trying their pizza. My previous encounter was with their deep-dish or sicilian -- not sure which one -- but i did not care for it.

We ordered 2 pies traditional style one was tomato basil and the other was sausage onions. Pomodori's pizza wasn't bad. I would describe it as a simple Ohioan version of NYC pizza. It tastes good for delivery pizza. Good tasting crust. Decent cheese and sauce. The tomato basil was surprisingly tasty with a very enhanced basil flavor. Adriaticos please...

vanilla nice nice baby!

Betty and I finally found official vanilla chips at Hills Market. I am still not convinced there is much of a difference between white chocolate chips and vanilla chips ingredients wise -- but the vanilla chips were slightly smoother and creamier in taste.

vanilla chips and other crucial ingredients. (No we didn't put la croix sparkling water in our cookies.)

Betty was in full effect in the kitchen. She switched up the recipe for orange white chocolate chip cookies this time adding extra orange zest and vanilla extract.

This was my favorite version of these cookies so far.

orange vanilla chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven

Thursday, April 23, 2009

hakuna frittata...or maybe more like unhakuna frittata...

I been cooking omelettes since the fourth grade thanks to my mom. Ever since then I've gone through many genres and style of omelettes through the years. For all the years of egg-cellent cooking i've never explored frittatas and quiches which are all close cousins of the omelette. I've done egg scrambles and a couple of months back i tried a corned beef hash and eggs and even 1 burnt stove top cooked frittata. I reviewed some recipes on-line and then did the usual cholesterolking improvisation:
  1. pan fried and blackened yukon gold potatoes with diced onions seasoned with season salt and rosemary
  2. chopped up chicken breakfast sausage
  3. more diced onions
  4. 1 diced jalapeno
  5. 3 cloves of garlic


extreme close up pre-egg on the stove top.

all that cooked in a pan while i stirred up:
  1. 6 eggs
  2. some heavy cream
  3. some nutmeg
  4. various seasonings
  5. a dash of flour
  6. some habanero tabasco ...i just remember i forgot to put dijon mustard in it! :(
  7. a dash of worscestshire sauce


Poured the egg mix on top of the hash that was cooking in the pan. Cooked it 5 minutes then threw in some diced tomatoes, habanero cheddar, and green onions and let it cook for 3 more minutes -- then flipped it into another skillet so i could cook down the top of the frittata which has historically been burdensome to cook on the stove top. I wasn't trying to broil this guy this time. Cooked that for another 2 minutes and then took it off the stove to let it firm up.

frittata off the skillet and not runny!

sausage potato frittata with toasted garlic bread from Weilands and grapefruit la croix

I thought it was pretty good. Wasn't as tender as I would've liked but not as overcooked as my previous attempt. Betty loved it. We had 2 servings and i somehow persuaded Betty into baking another batch of orange vanilla chocolate cookies.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

bean burritos boring? most certainly not!

The last 2 nights we've been eating bean burritos -- by choice of course. I love them. I could probably eat them every day. I confess it. Is that a bad thing? People may associate bean burritos with Taco Bell -- and ask why would i make bean burritos at home when I can buy them for $.89. The answer -- because I can make them better. You can use vegetarian beans, mix it up with different cheeses, add exorbitant amounts of onions which are especially crucial to me, and of course top it off with El Yucateco. Normally we have 2 burritos -- and I do one with El Yucateco red and the other with El Yucateco green. I had left over cilantro in the fridge from last week so took this opportunity to add some to my bean burritos. Delicious and f-r-e-s-h. When all is said and done at the end of the day -- bean burritos are what i crave!

bean burritos with cilantro, habanero cheddar, onions, el yucateco red and green, bowl of don pablos hot salsa, larger bowl snyder of hanover yellow corn tortilla chips

Monday, April 20, 2009

don't lavash home without trying the kibbeh...

We caught up with some friends at Lavash Cafe in Clintonville. This was our first time going but I had read some good things about it. I decided it'd be nice to be thorough in our assessment of the menu so i ordered a number of appetizers and sides so we could get the big picture.

kibbeh described from their menu as: "...cracked wheat and meat shells filled with seasoned ground beef, onions and pine nuts..." + side order of falafel

This was my second time trying kibbeh. The first time was at a Greek Festival in the Short North. Their kibbeh was mystifying to me. How'd they bake around the meat? It was like eating a bread shell filled with tasty beef. This was delicious. Would have been exceptional if it was warmer.

Their falafel was pretty good. Pretty mild taste and softer than I would like but the price was right. 6 for $2.50? Who's messing with that?

mojadara described from their menu as: "...rice and lentils cooked with special herbs and spices, topped with carmelized onions..."

For my meal I tried the mojadara and a beef kebab as recommended by a Columbus foodie. The beef kebab was a real treat -- tender with peppers and onions that all had a great grill taste . The lentils were pretty good. I like lentils having grown up with them as a kid. The Indian diet is all about dal and the various forms of lentils. Their mojadara could have used some more seasoning or something with a kick. The side salad which was a veggie infused form of tabouleh was a little bland too. Lavash's food reminds me of my own cooking because I cook with a lot of beans, cous cous and vegetables -- just could have used more seasoning.

lamb shish-kebab, saffron rice, pita, beef shish-kabob, salad

Lamb tasted good, saffron rice was flavorful, and the pita bread was yummy.

For dessert I split the rice pudding with Betty. Again growing up in an Indian household -- I had way too much exposure to ultra-sweet-sweets. Gulab jaman, lassi, chum chum, jalebi, you name it i ate it and we also had lots of baklava. For some reason though the sweets taste good i don't crave them -- and prefer American desserts over them. They do have a tremendous selection of baklava for those who can't get enough of it. We tried some of our friends and it was very delicious. The rice pudding was wonderful though.

All in all a good trip out. I definitely prefer this place over Aladdins -- and though I prefer to cook this genre of food at home -- i definitely see us coming back here with friends in the future and putting down some more kibbeh.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

naw man...I assure you there are not dogs on this pizza...I swear...

Made it back to Columbus to catch the 2nd half of the Cavs-Celtics game at one of our favorite dine-in pizza joints in Columbus - Hound Dogs Pizza. We had the usual half pep-half sausage with smoking joes crust, hot sauce, and side of ranch. The pizza was tasty though the smoking joes crust was slightly off. Smoking joes crust means that they increase the calorie count of the pizza a hundred-fold -- covering the pizza crust with garlic butter. The garlic butter was not as salty-season-y as it normally is. Regardless the pizza was tasty as funk. Funny thing is the leftovers tasted even better cold.

unflattering shot of smoking joes crust, hot sauce, half pep-half-sausage pizza delight

Monday, April 13, 2009

look it's the Easter Brunchy...

This was my first time celebrating Easter. Had a great weekend visiting friends and fam and this was the perfect way to end the weekend with a family brunch of tomato basil quiche, shrimp cocktail, fruit salad, apple pierogies, cheesy broccoli, and ham. This with all the great candy in our easter basket got me thinking i could get used to this holiday.

pineapple, boiled eggs, fruit salad, shrimp cocktail, empty cup of coffee

mimosa, ham, apple pierogies, basil tomato quiche

all the previously mentioned + broccoli cheese and newspaper

Ian Fleming presents Steakhouse Royale...

On Saturday the fam went out to Fleming's steakhouse after a great day of sight seeing at the Akron Art Museum and Stan Hywet Mansion. I guess this place is a chain but the food was tremendous.

They had two options for butter with the bread -- one plain and the other was a garlic sun-dried tomato option with other veggies in it. Good stuff.

I started off with the New England Clam Chowder.

New England Chowder

It was pretty good but more potato-y than i would want from a clam chowder. Now if it was billed as a potato soup with clams...then i would have truly enjoyed it. I prefer my chowder clammy and creamy.

I also tried their wedge salad. Who knew iceburg lettuce could taste so fantastic? I credit it to the blue cheese dressing obviously but still very delicious.

I also split the seared tuna appetizer with betty.

seared tuna

Great tuna. Way too wasabi-ful sauce set my nose and eyes on fire but man this was shaping up to be one of the best meals ever!

I ordered a straight up filet over medium.

filet, chipotle mac and cheese, sauteed mushrooms

Mine was cooked a little too much but still tasted great. Had sides of sauteed mushrooms and chipotle macaroni and cheese. The mac and cheese was very tasty and original! Sauteed mushrooms weren't bad but nothing's touching Top's Steakhouse. Everyone really enjoyed their food. I would go back for special occasions because the food and dining atmosphere are on point -- but the menu is a bit pricey for my wallet comfort.

what exactly is a Surf and Turf Burger?

Betty and I were in Cleveland this weekend and hit up the Moosehead Hook and Ladder pub with some friends. Imagine if a pub was put into an old Firestation and there you go. This place has a unique warm dining atmosphere. When it came time to order drinks I was underwhelmed with the beer selection but their menu was eclectic though difficult to read. Because I'm a nacho hound we started off with the seafood nachos that had shrimp, crab, and provolone on it topped with a lobster cream sauce and jalapenos on the side. They were simple and sweet but very delicious.

seafood nachos

After some contemplation I had to go with the Surf and Turf burger. What exactly is a surf and turf burger ??? --

surf and turf burger

a beef patty with a crab cake on top and grilled crispy onions. I got mine medium. Everyone was waiting for me to try this beast of a sandwich. When I took the first bite I was very surprised with how well the crab and beef actually went together. The burger itself was a little bland probably to allow it to go with the crab cake seasoning. All in all the flavor was decent but not mind altering -- the burger could have benefited from some form of bold condiment -- there was a tabasco-tartar sauce that was okay...but I could have gone for a more spicy mustard or even bacon -- but all in all a pretty unique burger. The rest of the table was a little underwhelmed with their food but I enjoyed what I tried including the fried grouper fingers. Overall the Hook and Ladder was a great place to catch up with friends for the mood and decent food. I would definitely go back there to try some of the other eclectic items on their menu.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

mucho nacho bowl about sumpin'...

A classic cholesterolking meal is the nacho bowl. You can customize it depending on what you got in the house. Tonight we had the following:

Hidden below the toppings is seasoned ground turkey topped with shredded monterey jack cheese, chopped onion, then topped with seasoned black beans. I used coriander, cumin, and bay leaves with the black beans. All of the previously mentioned is then topped with sour cream, salsa, jalapenos, and then striped with the red and green el yucateco hot sauces. How you gonna hate on this meal?

i've died and gone to adriaticos...

This is Adriaticos pizza -- my favorite pizza in Columbus, OH. This is Adriaticos pizza with half pep-shroom half ham-pineapple and an order of their breadsticks with all 3 sauces. Any questions?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

mom's mattar paneer + Sri-g samosas...

Was fortunate enough to go back to Dayton this weekend and stock up on my mom's home cooking. Call me a momma's boy but my mom's got mad skills in the cooking department. She also hipped us to her new favorite samosa joint. Sri-G Grocer's in Dayton, Oh makes samosas on the weekend. These samosas were to die for. I credit it to 2 things: 1) their potato-pea filling which is very spicy and tasty that you don't even need hot sauce or chutney and 2) the mastered art of reheating aka nuking a food item in the microwave just enough so that the insides are warm and then broiling the outside of said item so that it crisps up. This meal was crucial.

heated up whole wheat pita, home made roti, 2 samosas, 3 dollar tomato-onion salad, and mattar paneer.

signature black bean dip + white chocolate chip orange cookies

For a cookout with friends we decided to make some signature cholesterol king bean dip and orange white chocolate chip cookies inspired from the 52 weeks of baking blog that I've been following.

bean dip prep

finalized bean dip. looks like christmas

signature bean dip consists of a layer of black beans and salsa; a layer of sour cream with spices; shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese; shredded ice burg lettuce; green onions; and dice tomatoes

betty agreed to be in charge of the cookies which called for orange zest.

betty did a good job with the cookies

fresh outta the oven.

The cookies were delicious. They were a big hit at the cookout as the citrus flavor took our friends by surprise. Betty and I thought about adapting this recipe in the future including trying them with lemon zest and regular chocolate morsels. Folks loved the bean dip as always.