Sunday, January 31, 2010

Weekend Eats Recap

I'm normally too busy eating on the weekends to regale you with photos and recipes of what I made and home and/or where I dined. So, here's a lovely photo montage for you!

Friday: Slow-Cooker Chinese Peanut Butter Pork

1.5-2lbs pork tenderloin
1 onion, sliced in rings
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons water
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup creamy natural peanut butter
2 tablespoons chopped peanuts (garnish)

Put onion slices into the bottom of your crockpot. Put the pork on top. Add brown sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, water, garlic, and peanut butter. No need to stir--the peanut butter needs to melt before you can do so. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or on high for 4-6. The pork will be more tender the longer you cook it. 1 hour before serving, flip the meat over in the crock to allow the other side to soak up the sauce. Garnish with chopped peanuts, and serve with lime wedges.

This was a lot tastier than I thought, but I'd make one change next time - use regular peanut butter instead of the natural, which tends to be far less sweet. I suppose you could always up the brown sugar measurement, too.
Otherwise, it was pretty legit, especially when you break up the loin a bit before serving and drizzle it with the juices from the pot - which at that point will be a mixture of rendered liquid fat, soy sauce, peanut butter and onions.

Saturday: Slacker Ham Steaks

I didn't feel much like cooking, so I threw together some things we had around in the fridge and pantry. Blistered two ham steak in the cast iron skillet, whipped up some garlic-parmesan smashed potatoes with the leftover new potatoes we had from the chicken hash, steamed some veggies and made a few biscuits. Dinner was ready in less than 20 minutes!

Sunday: Slow Cooker White Bean Chicken Chili

This is a recipe from Skillz over at The Incredible Shrinking Women.

3-4 large chicken breasts, raw and diced
1 sm white onion, chopped
3-4 cloves minced garlic
2 cups chicken broth (add a little at a time, I like it thicker, so I only add about a cup)
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/8 tsp black pepper
2 tsp cumin
4 oz chopped green chiles
1 bag frozen corn
2 regular ass cans Great Norther Beans, drained and rinsed

Throw all the stuff in a crockpot, cook on low 5-6 hrs, or until chicken is done. At the end, add salt to taste. Top with sour cream, shredded cheese, diced tomatoes & green onion.

I chose to amp up the cayenne at the end, as well as adding a dash of regular chili powder and a good couple teaspoons of salt. I thought it was crazy delicious, but was shocked that it earned a big fat A+ from Mr. FvF, which is a rare occurrence for something that has an entire onion in it. Plus, any meal that allows me to read while it makes itself is an A+ in my book, too.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Table Scraps

  • Tried a new recipe from a low-glycemic index website last night and it was surprisingly yummy!
Chicken Hash
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium red onion, diced
3 cloves minced garlic
10-12 small new/red potatos, quartered
1/2 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp tomato paste
salt/pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Season chicken with thyme, basil and salt on both sides. Bake for 20 minutes or until no pink. Dice the chicken into large cubes and set aside.

Boil the potatos for approximately 10 minutes and drain.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Cook onion and garlic until browned and soft. Add the potatos and cook for another 10 minutes. Add black beans and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

Add chicken cubes, paprika, salt, pepper and tomato paste to skillet. Combine well and heat through.

*Editor's note: This recipe didn't call for any additional liquid, but I easily added over a cup of water because while stirring, it felt very dry. I also added a little extra tomato paste, but it all worked out well. Just use your best judgement and add liquid (water and/or oil) until it feels right. Shredded sharp cheddar and sour cream made great toppers.

  • Madison's Bistro update: The owner, George Argue, is facing criminal charges on selling booze sans permit, and now the investigation has caught up with its distributors, Bonbright and Arrow Wine. The citation against the distros aren't criminal charges, but could results in "administrative actions." I sure hope the Ohio Department of Public Safety is nothing like my middle school, otherwise these guys are in for a paddlin'!
  • Currently, there is a peanut butter pork loin a-brewin' in my crock pot. It smells delicious, but I'm apprehensive. I rarely cook with loin because it can dry out so easily due to the lack of fat and marbling. Full report tomorrow.
  • Soda, Pop, Coke? Sodapopcoke? Pop vs Soda painstakingly took the time to create a map of how your geographical vernacular contributes to how you refer to soft drinks. I always said "pop," until I hit about 19, when I suddenly started using "soda." Maybe I secretly long to live on the coast.
  • Starbuck's new Skinny Cinnamon Dolce lattes are the BIZ. I'm normally hesitant to pay $3+ for a cup of coffee, but when you're expensing it for a business meeting, it takes the sting out. This soothes the heartache from when they took away my precious sugar-free mocha syrup and I could no longer order a skinny mocha latte. My preciouses!

Thai 9

I've had takeout from Thai 9 in Downtown Dayton about 5 times, but somehow have never actually sat down to a meal there. I met a friend there for lunch since I had appointments downtown, and I'd been craving their peanut sauce for a while. Considering it's not even a dish, it's an odd thing to crave - but I've tried in vain to make or purchase a similar peanut sauce. No dice. I knew I should have only ordered the chicken satay, but my eyes and belly wandered and I figured I should have spring rolls, too.

Then I remembered that the chicken satay is a decent sized order, for an appetizer, and their spring rolls are on the mammoth side.
It was just what I remembered an expected. I know I raved about the peanut sauce, but the cucumber sauce is tops, too. Once you soak up all of the sauce with your chicken, you can eat the remaining sweet, chilled cucumbers like a salad.

The service was very friendly and fast, especially considering what a crowd they pack during the lunch hours. Our adorable server was nice enough to box up what was left after I realized my eyes were bigger than my appetite, but as usual - I left it on the table.

I know you're probably all wondering why I'm not writing about the great sushi I had there. Well, it's because I'm a big sissy-mary and I don't care for sushi. Deal with it.

5 out of 5 sporks!

*I almost deducted half a point for the gentleman who stared holes through me when I walked to the hostess stand looking for my lunch buddy - but I can't guarantee that he worked there. He had a management vibe about him, but he may have just been some strange, hateful-looking guy standing around.

Thai Nine on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Table Scraps

  • Totally not worth it's own entry, but I went to Bob Evans today for lunch with my Mom. As usual, the food was good and the service was shit. I wish I could make such a perfect Farmer's Market omelette at home and I'd never fool with their spazzy staff! 3 out of 5 sporks.
  • I did, however, brighten my experience by finally purchasing this adorable Dreamy-Eyed pig that I've been fawning over every time I take my mom to lunch there. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Hamilton Hocks, at your service.
  • Set an appointment for a tasting at Christopher's, as they'll be catering my wedding. It's my favorite restaurant in Dayton, Mr. FvF and I had our first date there, and they're terribly reasonable. I see no reason to look elsewhere.
  • Speaking of wedding crap, the amount of money people want for cake-pops (cake balls on a stick) is ABSURD. Almost $300 for 100 bite-sized pieces? So, we're talking maybe $10 for materials - $15 tops, and the rest is labor? I'm not paying someone baking out of their home nearly $100 per hour. Luckily, my very talented friend Lauren is totally hooking me up. I got the idea after having her last day at the big Labor Day shindig, because these little things were magically delicious. That girl just loves those balls!
  • Trying some new recipes this week, a lot of them Crock Pot meals. White chicken chili, peanut pork and orange chicken. The chili is Skillz (my sister) tested and GK (her bf) approved, but the other ones are a crap shoot.
  • Going to Kroger at night is a God-send. Last night we made out big bi-weekly trip after our visit to Fricker's - maybe around 9pm, and there was hardly a soul in there. It gave me the time and patience to peruse and find some great stuff, like Kroger brand CarbSmart Yogurt. I'm always on the hunt for a tasty breakfast with a lower-end glycemic index, and this totally fits the bill. It was surprisingly tasty in strawberry banana, and I got one of each flavor to try.
  • I also picked up some raw oat bran. Any ideas on how to doctor this stuff up for breakfast?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Fricker's in Dayton, Ohio

Fricker's is one of the places having a killer two-fer deal during Restaurant Week. They were offering chips & salsa to share, two rib & chicken chunk dinners - each with slaw, a roll and one side, and funnel cake fries to share. The rib & chunk dinners were only supposed to have *half* an order of chicken chunks, but this weighed in much closer to a full order. I pawned some of my garlic chicken off on the fella, as well as my roll, and still left half my slaw and one rib on the plate. This was a LOT of food for $10 per person.

The chicken was great, as always - and the ribs surprised me. I wasn't expecting much, since I've been spoiled on Old Hickory and great Southern BBQ ribs, but the sauce was just the right mix of sweet & spicy and they were very tender. The middle of the rack had some great bark on it, too, which is my favorite part about barbecue. Bark shark!

When our server (who was awesome, very friendly, and not at all frazzled by knowing jack-shit about the RW week special) returned asking if we wanted our funnel cake fries, we opted to have them fried up & put in a box to take home for a late night snack. Unfortunately, we both forgot them and left the box of goodness on the table - which I of course blamed on Mr. FvF and almost called off the wedding over. What?! Come on, it's funnel cake!

5 out of 5 sporks!

*This is the longest run I've ever had, giving 4.5 or higher to the last five consecutive restaurants. If you're waiting for me to give someone a scathing review, just give it time.

Fricker's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Figlio in Kettering, Ohio

The Kettering Moraine Oakwood Chamber's Women in Business met at Figlio (pronounced fee'-lee-oh) in Town & Country Shopping center for their monthly networking luncheon, and I was super excited, since I'd never been there and heard a lot of great buzz. Plus, I already know they have wood-fired pizza ovens, which is good enough for me.

The decor in the place is muted but classy, and the layout is interesting and fun. So, right to the important stuff: the food was fantastic. There was a mixed baby greens salad with pine nuts, gorgonzola & sun-dried tomatoes in a vinaigrette. I love salad and I get all tingly when I see pine nuts, so I was into it. I sampled a little bit of the pasta, but only a spoonful because I wanted to save my carb overload for the pizza. The pasta dish (Chicken Diablo, I think) was simple, but perfect. Penne in a spicy tomato cream sauce with wilted spinach, fresh tomatoes, grilled chicken and I may have detected some tiny bits of onion and/or bacon in there. Very similar to one of my own favorite dishes that I make for dinner when Mr. FvF isn't joining me.

Finally, a cell phone camera that takes a decent picture!

The pizza won my heart, just like I knew it would. The toppings were fresh and flavorful and the crust was an absolutely perfect rustic Neopolitan - perfect in a way that only a wood-fired oven can produce. Just crispy enough, just the right amount of chew.
These folks really like to starch it up, so things capped off with one of the top five tiramisus I've ever had.

Figlio's owner Peter Danis was our host and speaker, and was just as lovely as the food. His stories about his family and how he got into the restaurant business (via real estate law) were so genuine and entertaining. He gave all of the gals a great, simple bread recipe (which you can watch Peter make on YouTube) and a voucher for a freebie Peasant Salad (brought into Figlio from the Old Peasant Stock menu).

Although lunch didn't come out of my pocket today, the prices are still pretty reasonable. You can check their website for the menu with pricing, too. Given my mild gluten intolerance, I won't be able to frequent Figlio, but I certainly can't wait to go back.

5 out of 5 sporks!

Figlio Wood Fired Pizza on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 25, 2010

Restaurant Week update

I know it's tough in the streets, you guys. In fact, I was worried that I might have to miss out on winter restaurant week goodness because our health care costs shot up after the new year and the checks don't stretch as far. Luckily, owners of some Dayton eateries realize that while $20.10 is a great deal for a 3+ course meal, eating alone is no fun - so somebody usually ends up footing the bill for both.

There are over a dozen places this year offering a TWO for $20.10 deal:

Bahn Mai Thai Cafe
Boulevard Haus
Bunker's Bar & Grille
Cadillac Jacks (Smithville locations not listed as participating)
Dark Horse Tavern
Hickory River BBQ
Kohinoor Palace
Norton's (new location)

They're all super great deals, too! You can view the menus at the MVRA website, but they're mostly all still a 3-course meal. Enjoy, and support your local independent restaurants!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

From the desk of Mr. FoodvsFace: Cheesy Chicken Cups!

The fella has devised a clever way to trick me into making his favorite stuff: "It's for the blog! People need to know about this!" He's been known to be a bit of a picky eater and of all of the fancy, complicated things I can cook - this is his absolute fave. They're almost like tiny little pot pies. The recipe is ridiculously quick & easy and it can be adapted to your own personal taste. We had them for dinner this evening accompanies by garlic-rosemary oven steak fries with parmesan cream dipping sauce.

Cheesy Chicken Cups
1 skinless, boneless chicken breast - seasoned, grilled & chopped
1 can cream of broccoli soup (or any cream-based soup you dig)
1 cup shredded cheddar
salt, pepper, parsley to taste
1 can wheat biscuits

Combine the first 3 ingredients in a medium bowl and season to taste. Flatten each biscuit with your palms and press them into a greased muffin tin, making little cups. Fill each biscuit with the chicken mixture and bake for about 20 minutes at 375.

Table Scraps

  • Last night we had Mexican night with all of our favorite folks. We filled up on Gin's fabulous chicken enchiladas, carnitas, tacos, spicy rice, homemade salsa, hot sauce & guacamole, 7-layer taco dip and margaritas. El yummo!
(And in case you're wondering, yes - that's the Sunmaid Raisins girl giving the finger)

  • I missed the big Jungle Jim's trip yesterday because I had carnitas to make, but my sister was awesome enough to pick me up a pack of Walker's Smokey Bacon Crisps. They're pretty much the best thing that's ever happened to me, besides Mr. FvF. Since I love bacon so hard, it's always surprising that most of the bacon flavored products on the market make me want to wretch. Leave it to the Brits to get it right!

  • My mom sent me home with a big stack of Southern Living magazines, so I'm sure I'll have some full-fat, artery-clogging recipes to share over the next week if I don't stroke out. Did someone burn toast?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Chappy's Tap Room

Two of my favorite ladies and I decided to head to Chappy's Tap Room in West Carrollton last night for our not-nearly-often-enough girls night. I'd heard pretty good things about the place, but never seemed to get around to going even though I work less than two miles from it.

We got there around 9pm and there was still a wait for the dining room, which I consider a good sign, since people must be enjoying themselves. We were seated in far less time than the hostess had proposed, and we'd all snacked so we wouldn't be ready to tear someone's face off when we ordered dinner. Our server was super friendly and wasn't annoyed by me playing 20 questions with the menu. While debating the menu, we ordered some drinks and a half-order of their loaded kitchen chips.

I'm pretty sure these are house made BBQ chips, and they're loaded with cheese, bacon, sour cream, green onions and tomatoes. The half order was just enough to nom on while we chatted over cocktails and waited for our food.

I have a big weakness for anything beer-battered, so it was really tough for me to pass up their beer-battered chicken dinner. My sister decided to order that, so I invited myself to have a bite of hers once it came to the table. She'd eaten there before and said they're chargilled burgers "taste like summertime," so I was really struggling with what to go with. After a solid 20 minutes of perusing and a lot of questions for our server, we finally decided on our orders.

I chose the smothered chicken, Ginger picked the battered shrimp Po'boy and Skillz opted for the beer-battered chicken. Once it all came to the table, everyone's dishes looked plentiful and delicious, but between the size of the fillets and the wonderful smell it was producing, we were all drooling over the chicken in front of Skillz. We all dug into our own food until we were offered a bite of the beer-battered goodness, and WHOA. Gin & I instantly regretted out own orders and wished we would have gotten that instead. Don't get me wrong, our food was great - but this chicken, which clearly had malt vinegar IN the batter - was nothing short of perfection. The camera had Sasquatch eye again, so you'll have to forgive me for not quite honing my shutterbug abilities with the ten million damn settings on this thing.

The sides: We all ordered the mashed potato casserole at our waitresses suggestion. It didn't look impressive when it arrived, but it was a delight. They whip their potatoes with sour cream and cream cheese, then top it with cheddar and scallions and bake it.

The dranks: They have a wonderful beer selection here - somewhere between a dozen and 20 beers on tap and a bottle selection that's four pages long (including two gluten-free beers). Their wine selection is a bit limited, but if neither of those float your boat, they have a full bar and make a mean bloody mary.

I hadn't had that much beer (yet), so I had no problems cleaning my plate, and no problem announcing to our server that I don't need a box like those other two jerks because I'm awesome. After our meal, we headed over to the bar area where a local musician was playing a nice acoustic set. We'd joked beforehand that it was probably going to be awful like most Friday night cover bands playing in a restaurant, but the guy was actually really good. I wish I could remember his name to give him props here - but I can't recall to save my life. He wasn't hard on the eyes, either (I'm spoken for, not dead) - and apparently he plays there every Friday night.

I'm sure all of their food is excellent, but when I go back, I'll definitely be ordering the beer-battered chicken and I suggest you do the same. And trust, I'll be going back soon.

5 out of 5 sporks!

Chappy's Tap Room & Grille on Urbanspoon

A Chick-fil-A impostor?!

I was pretty pumped when I found a recipe claiming that although Chick-fil-A doesn't give out their secret, this tasted like the real thing. If that were true, I could stop planning my sales calls around the mall area just so I could have Chick-fil-A once a week. Obsessive right? Don't laugh. I have a very serious problem when it comes to their chicken. Plus, it's one of the most healthy fast food options out there, so I never feel guilty eating it.

The recipe seemed pretty standard for fried chicken, except for the powdered sugar, so I figured maybe that was the piece de resistance. It also calls for peanut oil for frying, which I couldn't seem to find in two different grocery stores, so I just used canola.

End result: this recipe churned out some great fried chicken, but it tasted nothing like my beloved Chick-fil-A. I'm sure the peanut oil would have made a difference in taste, but the breading was not spot on.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Table Scraps

Time for another installment of Table Scraps, all of the little food news bits and blurbs from the last few days.

  • Madison's Bistro in Kettering got busted and raided for not having a hooch license. Had I known they were bootlegging that whole time, I would have went in there wearing a fringed dress and a feathered headband yelling stuff like "You dumb mug, get your mitts off the marbles!"
  • The most googled recipe of 2009 was "chili." Maybe it's just me being old-timey, but this seems like something for which every family should have a handed-down recipe of their own.
  • Serious Eats (via CakeSpy) posted a recipe for Donut Upside-Down Cake that I want to make sweet, sweet fail with. Um, one of you guys should do it first and tell me if you went into any sort of diabetic coma or had a seizure after eating it.
  • Girl's Night Out on Friday - we're planning on getting dinner and drinks. Any suggestions for Indian food, so Ginger doesn't have to be admitted to a 12 step program? Anyplace that meets this criteria and has a bar within walking distance wins bonus points and all of our love and affection. We're open to non-Indian food suggestions, too. Just keep it around $10-15 per person sans cocktails. We're not the damn Rockerfellers, you know.
  • Dayton Restaurant Week is next Monday through Saturday, so gear up and peruse the menu selections here! If you're unfamiliar with DRW, it's a great time to try out Miami Valley Restaurants that you may not otherwise splurge on, since you get a three course meal for $20.12, and a good portion of the proceeds to go local charities.
  • The Oregon District's new German joint Boulevard Haus is getting a head start on Restaurant week by offering a super sweet deal of TWO meals for $20.10, plus you get to pick a boozy beverage to share! Peep their massive amount of selections here. But hurry, the offer is only good tonight through Thursday!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Chicken croquettes and leftover madness!

My mom's cooking is the stuff of legend. Ask any of my exes and they'll tell you that after my bodacious rack, they miss my mother's cooking the most (what did you think they'd miss - my tender-heartedness?).

Exhibit A: Chicken Croquettes.

They're so labor-intensive she only makes them about once per year, but we then get to revel in the delight of leftovers. I popped them in the oven for about 20 minutes and rounded it out with biscuits, buttered corn and rosemary-cheddar mashed potatoes. And I don't mind patting myself on the back here - for only my third attempt at making mashed potatoes, they're pretty divine.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Non-edible: Frank Z Chevrolet

In yet another non-food related entry, I'd like to share with all of you the wonderful experience I had recently with Frank Z Chevrolet in Dayton, Ohio. I leased a 2007 Impala there a few years back and my lease was coming due in February. GM usually offers a pull-ahead on the lease as long as you're purchasing or leasing another new GM vehicle. Now, keep in mind, I'd leased or purchased all of my other 5 new Chevrolet vehicles through Serra Chevrolet, and had always had a good experience. The only reason I didn't go through them in 2007 is because one of the sales staff got pretty snarky when I gave him my very reasonable price range. Plus at this point, I lived in Dayton proper, so having a dealership and service center closer to home just made sense.

When it came time to turn in my lease, the sales person I was dealing with, Brian Pettitt, seemed increasingly irritated that I could not afford the payments he was coming up with on something new. He also, without asking my permission, ran my credit through approximately seven local credit unions that I don't have an account with. If you know much about credit unions, you know this is typical. They'll break their neck for their members, but you don't get far as a non-member. He didn't bother running my credit through GMAC, who I've financed through 5 previous times and have an excellent credit history with. Until I received the rejection letters, I was not even aware he was tapping my credit. After all, I'd just asked for some ballpark numbers - I didn't ask him to put together a contract and get a loan approval.

Come late December, I went back to Serra Chevrolet and they worked up a pretty great deal for me on a 2010 Malibu. About two weeks later I received a bill from GMAC on the Impala I'd just turned in to the tune of $2000 for mileage overages. This seemed really odd, because I was under the impression that on a 40 month lease, I had 40K miles to go through. I'm in outside sales for a living, so why would I agree to anything less? Well, apparently Frank Z, in an effort to lower my payments and get me to sign on the dotted line, lowered my mileage to only 32,000 for the entirety of the lease. I'm not going to deny that I initialed next to it in the contract - but you know when you buy a car, it's an hour of "sign here, initial there," with a brief description of what you're signing for. The lowered mileage was never verbally addressed. Supposedly I'd met with a financial adviser who reviewed all of this with me - which is funny because I'd never met him.

Upon requesting a copy of my contract, complete with a very smart-assed cover letter insinuating that I'm an idiot who can't count to five, I replied letting him know there was no reason for his attitude, because this was bad business. I also said that I'd appreciate it if Frank Z would talk to GMAC on my behalf about possibly lowering this balance. So please, take a heartwarming journey with me and read over the response I received:

"I have an attitude right now because you are trying to blame me,for what has turned out to be a bad decision by you.

You can come up with excuses all day long. At the end of the day, you signed the contract, you were told the term, the miles, the payment, etc. If you honestly think that we are going to pay for your excessive mileage bill that is crazy.

I guess nobody wants to take any accountability for themselves anymore. Let's find someone else to blame and pay for our mistakes.

Great Attitude!"

Top notch customer service, right?! Apparently he missed the part where I'd agreed I'd made a mistake by not asking more questions in my original email to him. I wasn't asking them to pay the bill for me, I was asking for a little help. Regardless of who comes out the "winner" here, no service staffer should be allowed to speak to a customer this way and keep their job. If I approached one of my clients like this I'd get canned on the spot.

Do yourselves a favor and never, ever do business with Frank Z Chevrolet unless you like getting bent over and given the business.

Mini ham & cheese frittatas

I've been on the hunt for a great recipe that I can make for breakfast on a weekend morning and have some leftovers that will freeze well to use during the week. Solution: baby frittatas!

The recipe was super easy, which in a way makes them even tastier.

6 whole eggs
3 egg whites
1/3 cup milk or cream
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
dash Cayenne pepper
1/2 cup diced ham
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar

Whisk together the eggs, then add the milk & seasonings. Prep a muffin tin with cooking spray and evenly distribute all of the diced ham & cheese between the cups. Pour the egg mixture in the cups to fill about 3/4 of the way. Bake for 375 for 25-30 minutes. Enjoy!

China Cottage

Last night we went out for a late dinner with our friends Andrew and Katie and met up at China Cottage on Far Hills in Centerville. I'm a North China girl myself, but Andrew loves his China Cottage. Mr. FvF ordered the Szechuan Chicken with hot & sour soup and a spring roll and I has the Mongolian Beef (and his aforementioned spring roll). We also ordered a bottle of Clos du Bois for the table.

Mr. FvF was totally in love with the hot & sour soup, claiming it's the best he's ever had. The roll was tops, too - I love the thinner wrappers they use so you can actually taste the filling. The service couldn't have been any better. One of the managers who seated us and poured our wine made sure she gave us all fliers for their Chinese New Year celebration that takes place on February 22 & 23 where they'll be serving 11 specialty dishes. Not something we'll likely be attending, though, as the price is $50 per person. I'm sure it's worth it, but some things just aren't in the average bird's budget.

Our entrees arrived to the table looking scrumptralescent.

My only complaint is that I had way, WAY more onions than beef in my dish. I love onions pretty hard, but that's not what I'm paying $10 for. The mister's Szechuan chicken was fantastic, but could have been brought up a peg or two on the spice level. They did make a mistake on our bill, but it was only a matter of one of our friends' dishes ending up on our ticket. More easily remedied between us than asking them to take it back and fix it.

4.5 out of 5 sporks!

China Cottage on Urbanspoon

As a side note, we stopped at Murray's Place on South Dixie for a cocktail after dinner. The sign on the door says "Kettering's Best Kept Secret." In my opinion, that secret is that they have of the BEST karaoke around. I didn't say the most entertaining, I said the best. Mostly old timers that really know there way around a great tune. I tried to snap a crappy camera phone pic of the dapper-dressed fella singing all the great Motown jams, but like everything else my camera phone captures, it looked like a Big Foot spotting.
Almost every table was full, but it was far from a rowdy crowd. The waitresses were top notch, checking in on us at least half a dozen times in our visit, which was only just over an hour. They even came over and asked if we thought it was too warm and adjusted their thermostat accordingly. Between the two of us, we had two Miller Lites and two Jack & Diet doubles and it was only around $15.
Another thing to keep in mind, Murray's is open for lunch and serves up a great burger. It's no Tank burger, but it's a very close front runner in my book.

5 out of 5 shots!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Tanks Bar & Grill

I stopped in to Tank's tonight with some friends for a bite and a beer. Ever since I used to live across the street, I've always loved the place. It's an old-school, standing-room-only kind of place. There's no hostess, you seat yourself, and there's nowhere to wait if a table isn't open. In my opinion, one of the best burgers you can get in Dayton for the price. According to, Miamisburg's Hamburger Wagon is the best, but eff that noise. Growing up in the 'Burg, the Wagon hold a special place in my heart - but we're not talking about the same level of burger at all. Burger Wagon burgers are basically burnt sliders, for those of you who haven't been. I'm not saying they're bad, just saying they're an acquired taste - and would never earn my vote for best burger, in the same way that White Castle wouldn't.

Anyhow, Tank's is just tops when it comes to a good burger. They've got some great sandwiches, soups and hot shots on their menu, too, but it's incredibly difficult not to order what I consider their specialty. I always want both the boneless wings and the burger, which works well is I can order both and split them with someone. Luckily, Mr. FvF gets home from work just about the time I planned to leave Tank's, so I ordered both, ate half and boxed the rest up. It was delicious, as always - a perfectly cooked cheeseburger needing little to no condiments except for their awesome garlicky pickles on the side. The Chunkendales (the boneless wings) were tender and not overly sauced (except they did forget my celery and bleu cheese). Between these two dishes and a Miller Lite, it only set me back $15.

Tank's almost *always* garners a 5 out of 5 sporks for me, but they lost a little here on the service. They were pretty busy, but not the busiest I'd seen them and they had 3 servers working the room. She was pretty friendly, but not very attentive, and towards the end it was hard to get her attention for drink or a check. I was done eating at 6:45, had my food boxed up by 7, but sat there waiting for a check until almost 7:45. I would have gladly flagged her down, but she was nowhere to be found or wouldn't make eye contact with me. Minus half a point for the inconvenience of a very hungry fella waiting at home.

4.5 out of 5 sporks

Tank's Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Holy diabetic coma, Batman!

One great thing I can say about my office is that these bitches REALLY love to eat. They're unnecessarily terrified of downtown Dayton, thinking that the Oregon district is like Compton and Wayne Ave is the Detroit Greyhound station, but I think've made my feelings clear on that before.
Today was the last day of someone who has worked her on & off for about 10 years and is moving to Florida. She knew we'd end up having a carry-in for her, so she made a list of sweets she liked and asked that people only bring sugary snacks in. For an office of only about a dozen people, we do NOT eff around when it comes to carry-ins.

We've got donuts, chocolate-covered Oreos, pineapple upside down cake, two pans of brownies, chocolate covered pretzels, dirt cake, chocolate cake and chocolate chip cookies.

And of course, my Peanut Butter Pie (not pictured), recipe handed down from the Great Lando.

1 cup Peanut butter
8 oz Cool Whip
1/3 cup heavy cream or half & half
2 oz cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 pie crust

Combine the first 6 ingredients with a mixer on low speed, switching to medium until all of the lumps are smoothed out. Spoon into the pie crust and chill overnight in the freezer. Move it to the 'fridge about an hour before serving to soften a bit.

Killer variations on this recipe include using Dark Chocolate peanut butter, or chocolate Cool Whip, if you can find it.

Not Edible: The Motel Beds

Every once in a while, I'll post something that is completely unrelated to food. Oh, you don't like that? Not purist enough for you? Well, choke on it, because I do what I want around here.

The Motel Beds are comprised of 4 of my very favorite dudes, and one that's just sort of alright (Ian, I'm looking in your direction), and have been melting Dayton's face off with their jams for going on ten years. Saturday 2/6 they'll also be unleashing a whole new kind of hell at Blind Bob's with a brand new EP.

Check out their Facebook page here, or you can also keep up with them via the Fictionband Mechanics link in my blogroll on the right.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Anniversary Chicken

Ok, so this was BOSS - and almost painfully easy.

2 chicken breast halves (or just 1 giant one, pounded out & cut in half, if you get them from Dot's)
Teriyaki Sauce
Ranch dressing
3 slices bacon, cooked crisp & chopped
1/2 cup shredded cheddar

Season* and sear chicken breasts for about 5 minutes on each side. I actually cooked mine in some of the leftover grease from making my bacon bits. Place in greased baking dish and spoon on teriyaki sauce, then ranch dressing. Cover with cheese and bacon (and green onions, if you like) and bake for about 25 minutes on 350, or until chicken reached 165+ degrees in the middle.
This made just enough for two, so double the recipe if you're making it for a family.

Obviously, you could do this with about any condiment and switch up the cheese selection. I think I might try it next with honey dijon mustard and gruyere cheese.

*House seasoning is best for simple chicken and beef recipes that call for searing.
4 parts salt
1 part garlic powder
1 part fresh ground pepper

I keep mine in a very special container.

Table Scraps

Another installment of everything that's not exactly fit to print.

- I went Krogering last night and it was more bonkers than usual. They were out of chicken broth. Isn't that like ACE Hardware being out of nails? I understand that people have been stocking up on food in the fear that 3" of snow equals the apocolypse, but come on.

- Speaking of Kroger, they had their frozen pizzas on sale for $2.99 last night, so I picked up two of them. The self-rising crust deluxe was basically like a loaf of bread with some stuff on it. Way too much crust for this ol' gal. Hopefully the crispy thin crust chicken Caesar will be better.

- I made my weekly trip to the butcher at Dot's Market today and have never been happier to part with $40.

- I also picked up some Jell-o (sugar free) Mousse Delights in Chocolate Decadence, which I LOVE. Kroger doesn't seem to be carrying them anymore, but Dot's has them on sale this week. When you dieters tire of the s/f pudding (and you will, trust me), give these a go. Then be sure to check your map, because you're smack in the middle of Tasty Town.

- Tonight we're having anniversary chicken! Not because it's our anniversary, but because the recipe looks nom-o-rama and it's way low in carbs and high in protein. Photos to come! Also on the menu for this week:

Chick-fil-a Impostor nuggets

Rosemary Chicken with Artichoke Hearts

Spicy Peanut Beef

Crunchy ranch chicken breaded w/pork rinds

Whole Wheat Linguine with Italian sausage

Mini ham & cheese frittatas


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Cocktail Hour!

Anyone who knows me knows that I like a good cocktail (no snickering!), so it seems only fitting that I will devote a little time now and again to tell you what tasty beverage I'm relaxing with.

As I've mentioned before, I try to steer clear of sugar. But, the usual diet and sugar-free mixers can grow tired after a while. I've found that sprite zero is a great mixer in damn near anything - even for substituting for the simple syrup in a mojito recipe. Traditional? No. Yummy and guilt free? Absolutely. Another great vodka (or even white rum) mixer is Stewart's Diet Orange Cream Soda. Just like a Creamsicle!

When I'm all aboard the sugar train, this is also a delicious bevvy to try

Pomegranate Pear Martini
2 parts vodka of your choosing
1 part Nantucket Nectars Pomegranate Pear Juice
dash of sweet vermouth

This will make one light, but not-too-sweet flavored martini.

For a winter favorite, which I like to call "Hot Pants," try the following:

1 shot/1 oz vodka
1 heaping tablespoon of hot cocoa mix*
8 oz hot milk (or soy milk, or water, if you prefer

Mix the booze and cocoa together, then add your hot milk to the mug. If you're feeling fancy, stick your pinky up and add a candy cane for garnish.
*Aztec Spiced hot cocoa is the best, but if you're using another or making your own, toss in a dash of cinnamon and cayenne pepper.

A friend also brought us a very nice bottle of champagne last night, and I'm sticking it waaaaay back in the fridge until a special occasion arises to celebrate it with. In the meantime, we also have the other bottle of inexpensive champagne, two bottles of wine, a jug of Tito's Handmade Vodka and Maker's Mark that he brought over. I bet you wish he was your friend now, don't you?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Ticket's Pub & Eatery

Today Mr. FoodvsFace and I were in scenic downtown Fairborn to hit Bookery Comics and get a haircut for him and a manicure for me at Chelsea Manor, so we hit Ticket's Pub across the street for lunch. We'd been there for the first time around Halloween when we were gallavanting around the Foy's stores, and I couldn't wait to go back and plow into some of the charbroiled goodness.

They have plenty of standard American fare on their menu, but they also have a good selection of Greek dishes, like Gyros and souvlaki. We shared the Greek hot plate (for 1 - you can order it for two, but it is massive) and a basket of mini corn dogs. The hot plate consists of lamb, charbroiled chicken, souvlaki (charbroiled pork), feta, tomatoes, olives, peppers, and freshly made pitas with a heaping helping tzatziki sauce. I don't dig on lamb at all, so I leave that all to him - but I feel like I still have the upper hand because I get all of the tomatoes. The meat is always perfectly cooked, the pita wedges are fresh and warm, and it only sets you back about $10.

The Greek Cold Plate would be a great option for vegetarians, with Feta cheese, greek peppers, kalamata olives, tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers served with pita bread and tzatziki sauce.

I'd love to show you a photo of it, but we devoured it before it even occurred to me to snap a pic. So, do yourself a favor and go check it out for yourself.

5 out of 5 sporks!

Tickets Pub & Eatery on Urbanspoon

Slow cooker carnitas

Last night we had Tim (of YouIndie) and his lovely wife Amie over for dinner. Since I was working all day I didn't want to spend 5-8pm spazzing out in the kitchen, so I needed something that would practically make itself. Solution? Carnitas!

This obviously isn't the traditional Mexican method, but it's just as tasty. I picked up a pork shoulder from Dot's - the ONLY cut of pork you should use for carnitas. It's well marbled, but the fat just melts right off and helps flavor the meat. Last night I switched my method up a bit, and didn't like it as well as the first time, so I'll post the original recipe.

2-3 lbs pork shoulder
1 cup salsa
1/2 cup water
taco seasoning*
1 tsp Liquid Smoke

*I make my own, but you could just as easily use store bought. Try 2 parts chili powder, and one part of all the following: salt, cumin, onion powder & garlic powder, and maybe a dash of cayenne.

Rub the meat with the seasonings, place it on the crock pot and surround it with the salsa and water (it's easiest to mix these together first), cook on low for about 6-8 hours.
Transfer the pork and about half of it's juices to a baking dish and cook in a 300 degree oven for about an hour, allowing the edges to crisp up and the juices to soak into the meat. You don't *have* to do this step, but trust me, it's worth the extra time.

I love making tacos with it - black beans, Monterrey Jack and guacamole - and warming the filled shells for about 5 minutes in the oven to let everything meld together. However, we've also used it on nachos, in burritos, and last night, as tostadas by accident. I usually buy the Ortega Whole Grain shells, but Dot's doesn't carry them, so I had to get regular ones. Unfortunately, by the time I was 7 shells through the box of 12, the rest were broken in half. At Chez Vizz, we don't cry over broken corn shells - we make them into something else!

The photo didn't come out as well as I'd hoped. I'd had a few cocktails by this point, and apparently the camera was sharing my Sasquatch-spotting vision.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Southwestern Eggrolls - now with pictures!

Finally, a healthy recipe! I swear we normally eat healthy at Chez Vizz. The holidays may have a been a bad time to start the blog and showcase my sometimes disastrous eating habits.

Most everyone I know loves the Southwestern Eggrolls from Chili's, but most of those people (the ones who aren't slow) also know that their deep fried goodness makes them far from healthy. It's not hard to figure out what's in them, so the challenge is making them better for you - which for me, is not much of a challenge.

Southwestern Eggrolls

1 whole chicken breast, cooked and chopped or shredded
1 TSBP canola or olive oil
1/4 red bell pepper, minced
2 TBSP minced green onion
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 pkg (about 5 oz) frozen spinach, thawed and drained
2 TBSP diced jalapeno peppers
1/2 TSP cumin
1/2 TSP chili powder
1/4 TSP salt
1 dash cayenne pepper
1 cup shredded cheese, Monterrey Jack or Colby Jack work best
approx. 8 low-carb tortillas

Preheat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add red pepper and onion and sauté for a couple minutes, or until tender.

Add corn, black beans, spinach, jalapeno peppers, parsley, cumin, chili powder, salt, and cayenne pepper to pan. Cook for another 5 minutes & stir well so that spinach separates and is incorporated into mixture. Remove pan from heat and add chicken, then cheese and stir until cheese is melted.

You may want to moisten and microwave your tortillas to soften them up and make them easier to roll - only takes about 15 seconds. Roll them up like tiny little burritos and secure with toothpicks and place in a baking pan that you've lubed up w/cooking spray. Bake in a pre-heated 350��� oven for about 15 minutes. Serve with sour cream, salsa, guacamole or that rancid avocado-ranch like they have at Chili's.


South Park Pizza Tavern

I met a few friends here last night to grab a post-work drink. I'm not the world's biggest beer lover, so a pub that specializes in beer-lover's beers isn't exactly right up my alley. But here's the rub - they serve Pizza Factory pie. I hadn't had a slice from there in ages, since I worked at a bar downtown and we'd order in. I was supposed to be waiting to have dinner with Mr. Food vs. Face, but I couldn't resist grabbing a slice of my sister's Hawaiian style pizza. Pizza Factory has a crust to die for. I'm not sure what kind of ovens they use, but it's a perfectly blistered near-Neopolitan.
I really, really wish I had planned ahead and brought my camera to take a photo of this little lovely. Ham, bacon, pineapple and just enough cheese on a perfect crust.

I also ordered up a Samuel Smith's Organic Raspberry Ale, which was aces. It came in a gigantic bottle that allotted almost 3 pilsners worth of beer, and rang in at just under $5. It's not nearly as sweet and candy-like as Lindeman's Framboise Lambic (which is basically not at all beer, but I love it all the same), yet much sweeter than the Raspberry Ale they used to serve at Thirsty Dog. When it hits your nose, it almost smells of sour raspberries, but don't let that deter you. It's light to medium in body and pours a dark maroon color with a very sweet, mild malt. If you dig fruity brews, give this one a whirl. For those of you that like non-sissy beer, South Park Tavern normally keeps 18 specialty crafted microbrews on tap and over 100 other beer and wine options to choose from.

Making the experience all the more pleasant, our waitress was top notch. Often when I go to a joint meant for beer snobs, my indecisiveness is met with a scowl. However, our server at SPT didn't tap her foot or looks at her watch while I lamented over the menu, and even made a few recommendations.

4.5 out of 5 sporks!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Monkey Tail Bread

I had some bananas blackening on my hutch, and I hate to waste food. I was already headed to Dot's to pay my weekly visit to the butcher, so I started looking up recipes for utilizing the sad, wilting fruits before they went full-on rotten.
After looking at recipes for banana fritters, pudding, pie, muffins, bread puddings and cookies - I decided to go with my original plan of using them in banana bread.
I've probably toyed with about five different banana bread recipes, but have never been completely satisfied with the moisture level or texture.
The Delicious Life claimed to have "The last chocolate chip banana bread recipe you'll ever need." Is that a challenge? I accept!

Of course, I was so eager to dive into the bread that I forgot to take a photo.
the only thing I did differently was cut down the amount of chips because I only had 1/2 C left, and I also forgot milk at the store (are you seeing a pattern here?) so I subbed half and half for the buttermilk.
Once I tore into that first warm bite right out of the oven, I realized the recipe title was more accurate than I thought possible. Nom-o-rama.

Williams Sonoma closes Beavercreek, Ohio store

I doubt this will have people frantic like the Pacchia closing, or lamenting that this store closing will send The Mall at Fairfield Commons into a tailspin of certain foreclosure.
I rarely shopped there because their prices were a bit steep - but here's the good news: Everything is on sale now, most importantly, 50% off all sauces and condiments. Go stock up on pumpkin dip mix, and you can thank me (and share with me) later.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Pacchia Closes

I'm sure if you live in Dayton, you already know this - because everyone and their dog decided to post on facebook and twitter about it yesterday, no matter how uninformed or downright stupid it was. People started demanding that you not give your business to Renaissance Salon because Dr. Ervin, who owns the building where Pacchia was located, also owns RS's space.

The first thing you all need to get straight is, the owner of the building is NOT the same as the owner(s) of Pacchia. You don't need a real estate license to figure that out. Most business owners rent the space that they operate in.
Yesterday, I saw more than one person post the following:
Please don't give your business to Renaissance Salon or anything that has to do with Dr. Irving. He just shut the doors to Pacchia and the Espresso Bar permanently. Meaning that all of those Great People are now out of work. Please keep them all in your thoughts as they try to adapt.

You people are out of your monkey ass minds! I'm sure the gals working at Renaissance really appreciate you trying to take food out of their mouths. Also, I don't know the guy, but I suspect Dr. Ervin would probably appreciate it if you got his name right before you dragged it through the mud.

The next thing everyone wanted to spout off about was not how much they'll miss the restaurant, but how much they'll miss the coffeehouse. Some alluded that they'd miss the business as a whole, but I'm willing to bet they purchased a latte occasionally, but never had a meal there. Granted, that little cafe was usually bustling with people - but it was a loss leader. Now where will all of those poor hipsters hang out and pretend to be smart, important, or brooding?

The thing that really got under my skin, though, is seeing all of the comments about what an epic blow this is to our local economy. Yes, it's a damn shame that a local landmark restaurant is closing and those folks have lost their jobs without notice. However, the things I was reading were completely helpless, sky-is-falling overreactions. "Dayton can't recover from this! Oregon will become a ghost town!"
Did that happen when Blue Moon closed? Cafe Boulevard? Chin's? Sure, we miss them, but restaurants close everywhere, all the time. Each one is typically not a virtual Jenga block that will send the entire town's economy crashing down. Here's a list of eateries that have closed in Dayton over the last two years. I don't seem to recall any of them causing irreparable damage to their neighborhood's financial infrastructure - especially considering they're normally filled by another tenant in no time.

Besides, it's been evident for a while that fine dining isn't exactly suitable for the Gem City's economy (especially the Oregon District). Pacchia's owners came up with a plan to re-vamp the space with a new concept and more afforable scale, and then everyone fussed, "This is the end of fine dining in Dayton! Now it will just be another bar! 5th street is going to be completely classless now!" Make up your minds, people. First, you pissed and moaned because it was too pricey to have dinner there, and when they think about changing their image to lower their price scale, you think it will turn into a Maury Povich episode in the dining room.

Mark Fisher decided to post an article about the closing today, and while it did give more detail - it's also based on a press release from the building's owner, not Pacchia owners Steve Ramsey and Carla Carnahan. It also sort of pointed the finger directly at them as the reason the coffee shop closed along with the restaurant, which I'm not sure is the case.
Also, leave it to DDN readers to make a few nonsense comments, then turn it into an argument about the Greene and the Dayton Mall area.

It seems that the City of Dayton is filled with an awful lot of doomsayers, leaving business owners damned if they do, damned if they don't. If all you can find to do is post on the comments section about what's wrong with our fair city, you should probably just move somewhere else - where the dining is fancy, but God forbid - not too fancy.

On the factual and far-less-opinionated front, check back later for Dr. Ervin's press release regarding the closing. I should have it posted by this evening.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Table Scraps

"Table Scraps" is where I'll put all of the little blurbs for the week that didn't really deserve their own post. The orphaned, inner-city kids of commentary, if you will.

- Picked up a bag of Planter's Smokey Bacon Peanuts when making a cigarette run in NKY last week. I was very excited that two of my favorite things had come together and made a delicious love child, but BLARGH. The peanuts seem to have been blanched and flavored ONLY with the smoke seasoning. Not impressed, Mr. Peanut. Try again.

- Trophy Nut & Candy in Tipp City won my heart by making a little something called Crunch & Nutties Hot and Spicy mix. NOM! I've been buying it at Big Lots about 5 cans at a time until they inevitably run out. A super tasty low-carb snack that offers more than just nuts. Cashews, almonds, peanuts, sesame sticks and corn mama sticks tossed in a spicy seasoning. But, of course any time I find something I love, they have to go and break my heart and discontinue it. I checked Trophy's website and they have something similar, but not exactly the same. But, I'll still probably end up buying it in bulk once I clean Big Lots out of their stash.

- J's aunt & uncle bought us a fancy microwave popcorn maker for Christmas, but I've been brawling with it. It came with about a dozen different types of corn, and I've found some good recipes for doctoring it up (such as making your own kettle corn!). Only problem is, I can't get it all to pop without burning. Does anyone have any tips for using one of these mothers?

- I've exhausted my one & only ramekin recipe. Do my kick-ass readers have any more? I'm open to desserts, but I'd love to get some ideas for savory dishes and side items I can serve with diner.

- I tried my hand at my mom's beef stew recipe idea last night, and it came out DELISH. I worked up the nutritional facts on it and turns out I don't need to feel guilty about eating a heaping helping of it!

- The sausage & breadcrumb stuffed chicken was only a halfway success. Very tasty, but really too much of a pain in the ass to make. Maybe If you get the wimpy little Tyson Chicken breasts, it would be easier. But, I buy all my meat freshly butchered from Dot's Market, thank you very much. I don't know what they're feeding their chickens, but they are some busty broads! I pounded the chicken out with a meat mallet until my arms gave out, but it still took almost twice the cooking time.

- That reminds me - if you live in Dayton, you're doing yourself a disservice if you're buying your meat and poultry anywhere else but Dot's. You absolutely can't beat the value, and I'd put their steaks & chops up against DLM's any day.

Applebee's 2: Electric Bugaloo

J and I still had a few bucks left on our Applebee's gift card, and I didn't feel much like cooking today, so we headed back to spend it on a late lunch.

Our waitress was attentive and friendly, the food was timely (except for our appetizer) and actually, pretty tasty. I ordered the Fiesta Lime chicken and there was no fussing or up-charging when I wanted to sub my side of rice for veggies. It was well cooked and seasoned, and the veggies were actually cooked this time. The manager was also making her rounds doing a bit of quality control, asking everyone how their meals were.

Consider this somewhat of a retraction, or as close as I'll ever get to saying the place isn't half bad. It's probably one of the better experiences I've had at Applebee's. Luckily, though, we've burned through the gift card, which means I won't have to see the inside of Shena - errrrr, Applebee's for a while.

National Spaghetti Day!

Tomorrow, January 4, is National Spaghetti Day! I'll probably enjoy it at home with some whole wheat angel hair and my own fabulous bolognese sauce. However, for the rest of you who can carb it up without a care, Spaghetti Warehouse is helping celebrate it with a serious deal - $4.99 for a spaghetti dinner (choice of 11 different sauces) with your choice of soup or salad. As far as I know, all locations are participating, including the Dayton Spag House on East 5th Street downtown.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Molten Spiced Chocolate Cabernet Cakes

They turned out every bit as good as I'd expected! I might bake them for 2-3 minutes less next time, to amp up the gooeyness in the center. The Saigon cinnamon and wine aren't that strong in flavor, but emit one of the most wonderful smells ever when you dig into them right out of the oven. You can find the recipe here.

On a side note, big congrats to my good friends Josh & Carla (part-owner of Pacchia restaurant), who rang in the new year last night by tying the knot! A short & sweet ceremony at the stroke of midnight, surrounded by close family and friends. Two people couldn't be more perfect for one another (except J and I of course)!

Starlite Diner

Much like New Year's Eve, New Year's Day calls for complete gluttony. I slept until 2pm, then finally got the chutzpah to wash my face and begin the quest for a serious carbo-load that my marinated belly was craving. I desperately wanted stromboli, but almost every place was closed. My folks called and were headed to the Startlite Diner on Wilmington Pike and asked that J and I join them. My dad just raves about this place, so I figured we'd give it a whirl.

The place was dead as a doornail despite a few early birds having dinner, which means the greeter and servers were pretty happy to see us just so they'd have something to do. The menu here is massive. The menu sections encompassed sandwiches, hoagies, wraps, melts, Italian fare, seafood, burgers, daily specials, grilled items, soups, appetizers, baskets, salads - I could go on and on.

After much deliberation, I opted for the cheese steak hoagie. At a ridiculously low $5.95, it came with choice of soup (I picked the chicken pasta soup), as well as either fries.

The soup was tasty, but all of the different varieties of pasta in it were as far from al dente as you can get.

This massive mama came out loaded, and with a heaping helping of fries - it barely fit on the plate. It was delicious. The only thing I could have changed is the cheese - it came with perfectly melted American, but that's not really what I want on a cheese steak. I'd go for either provolone or even Whiz.

I'd like to say I crushed it, but I left a few bites of the hoagie and several fries on the plate after realizing I might go into some sort of coma if I ate any more.

J had the fish and chips, Dad had tilapia, and Mom ordered the baked ziti. I'm not a big ziti fan, but it looked like a heaping helping of delish! Hers came with the salad bar and garlic bread and only costs about $9.

Even though there's no way we could have held any, we weren't offered dessert - but the selections in the pie case up front looked pretty fantastic. My dad said the last time he ordered a piece of chocolate cake there, it was as big as the damn cash register.

Given the incredibly varied menu, friendly service and serious bang for your buck, this place gets 4 out of 5 sporks.