Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Smoked Sausage Tortellini Soup

I really need to post this before I forget the recipe myself.  I'm a big fan of getting an idea for something and running with it, as well as making a soup out of whatever is in the fridge and pantry. In light of that, I give you this incredibly easy and inexpensive weeknight soup that tastes slow-cooked, but isn't. Sorry, guys - I'll take a photo next time!

Smoked Sausage Tortellini Soup

2-3 cloves minced garlic
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 link turkey smoked sausage (fully cooked), cut in rounds, then in half again
1 32 oz carton chicken broth
1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1 can great northern beans (or cannellini beans, if you prefer)
1 cup fresh spinach, roughly chopped
1 pkg cheese-filled tortellini*

* I used the fresher, refrigerated variety-  like Buitoni. If you don't care for this, can't find it or already have the dried stuff, just par-boil if beforehand. 

Heat a little olive oil in a stock pot and start sauteing your onions, carrots and garlic, then toss in your chopped sausage to brown up a bit, then your tomatoes and beans and cook for another 5 minutes.  Add all of the chicken broth and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 20 minutes. Add your chopped spinach and let it wilt for about 2-3 minutes, then add your tortellini and let it cook for about 5-10 more - but make sure the pasta doesn't cook so long that it explodes or gets mushy.  Slow and low!  Toss a little shredded Parmesan on the finished product, and serve with some crusty bread and a salad.  You're welcome.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Sweet Chipotle Cornbread

In hindsight, I'm really disappointed that I didn't take an outcome picture of one of the first recipes I've created in a while.  Rest assured, they didn't look all that spectacular - just your average looking corn muffins.  I let a few of the mini ones cool and tasted them while they were still warm, and was immediately disappointed that there was no heat, that I'd used far too little pepper.  Then, oh snap!  There it was.  Just a few seconds after I'd imbibed it, that little bit of warmth snuck right up, and it was perfect.  I will say it was a tiny bit of smoky heat to finish, not even too much for my 18 month old son to handle.  If you like a higher level of sass, seed and mince one additional chile for the recipe.  I took this one to a cookout, so I erred on the side of caution and went with just what regular folks would enjoy.  I had to wash and reuse muffin tins between batches, and this still only took me an hour, start to finish.  Makes about 4 dozen minis.

2 boxes Jiffy corn muffin mix
3 eggs, beaten
1 stick butter/margarine, softened
8 oz creamed corn
1/3 C milk
1/3 C shredded asadero cheese
1 whole chipotle pepper, seeded and minced
1 tbsp adobo sauce from the can of peppers
1/4 C diced yellow onion, sauteed

Mix all of this together and spoon into greased muffin tins.  Mini muffins will take about 15 minutes at 350, while larger muffin or popover tins will take 20 minutes or so.  if you decide to do this in a cast-iron or loaf style, I'd give it at least 45 minutes.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Meadowlark - The Redux

With Lil FvF and four jobs between my husband and I, we don't get out for many nice meals these days.  when Mr. FvF's Aunt and Uncle were in town recently, they passed through Dayton to have dinner with us and my folks.  They're well-traveled folks, and surely not easily impressed - so it seemed like a great excuse to check out Meadowlark's new (I know, they've been there for a while - but like I said, I don't get out much!) digs in Kettering, which was a halfway point for all of us.  The new joint is at least triple the size of the old location, and suits them so much more.  The decor is warm and unique, with plenty of tables and a great bar area.  The highlights were definitely the seasonal cocktails with spring fruits (the Bourbon and Berries was to die for) and the cheese plate that they brought out to finish the meal, even though it wasn't on the menu.

I know most people who give a damn about great food in Dayton are already hip to how great Meadowlark is, but if you're not - go there soon.  For a market like Dayton, we are really lucky to have a gem like this right in our own back yard - especially tucked away in the suburbs. If that wasn't a strong enough statement,  I'll just leave you with a few photos to make you salivate.

Meadowlark Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Lasagna Soup

I don't have very much time to create OR post my own recipes lately, but for the love of all that delicious, make this soup.  Why don't more recipes contain a component called "cheesy yum?"
 I used cavatappi pasta and cooked it separately because I hate mushy pasta and wanted the opportunity to freeze leftovers (which there are never any of).  Although it gives me radiating heartburn, it's worth it.  I actually daydream about this soup, and crave it at least once every week or so. Honest to goodness, one of the best things I've ever eaten.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Snack Time - New Mikesell's Flavors and Giveaways!

Dayton's own Mikesell's just added two new flavors to their Kettle Cooked line, Sour Cream & Onionand Bold Jamaican Jerk. Now, the sour cream and onion are delicious, but not earth shattering.  The Jerk, however, are indeed, BOLD.  Spicy as shit, really.  Mr. FvF would basically eat pure fire, and usually mocks me when I say a food item is hot or spicy, but even he could admit these had a decent kick.  Until February, the Kettle Cooked line was limited to original, reduced fat, Groovy and Barbecue.  If I remember correctly, they had discontinued their Sour Cream & Onion flavor a few years ago, so I'm sure its second coming as a Kettle chip will be welcomed with open arms. 

I'm not a huge potato chip fan, anyway, so I moved right onto the Cinnamon Toast Puffcorns.  Guess what, eaters?  You can't even get these yet.  Well, maybe you can because technically they came out on Friday.  But good luck finding them!  Come on, just let me feel special that I got something before the rest of the free market.  The important part here is that they're incredible.  Like, hide them from your toddler or eat them off of a floor that hasn't been freshly cleaned if you drop a few clean.  The cinnamon is the dominant flavor, but they still have the butteriness of the original Puffcorns, which gives the sugar and spice a really nice balance.

Want some free snacks?  Better yet, want some free snacks (I'm talking a lot of free snacks) and tickets to the Cincinnati Zoo?  Tell me about your favorite Mikesell's snack - chips, pretzels, puffcorns, curls, whatever.  I'll choose the winner at random on Friday March 8, so entries will be accepted until that day at 12noon Eastern time.  The prize will ship directly to the winner from the company, so Mikesell's lovers in any market are encouraged to apply.              

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Fifty Shades of Chocolate: A Sweet Nothings Event!

About this time last year, a the appropriately sweet Sarah, owner of Sweet Nothings, hooked me up with some of her finery so I could review it for the blog.  Not a week has gone by since that I haven't craved that toffee.  And the Grogg cake. And those heart shaped cookies.  Oh, and the brownies.  Even my favorite cupcakers at Cake, Hope and Love got into the groove and started featuring her toffees in some of their signature items!

This year, Sweet Nothings will be peddling their amazing sweets at Oakwood's Get Dressed!  Boutique on Far Hills February 13 and 14 from 12noon to 6pm.  For all of you filthy perverts, I know the name is prompting you to expect a tie-in with every housewife's favorite soft-core erotica best-seller, so here it is!  Remember those gorgeous sparkly cream cheese sugar cookies I went on about?  Well, they decided to slip into something more comfortable for this event, and they brought a game for later...

If you're not a pervert, or you just don't like cookies (I'm not judging you on either), she'll also have some fancy cakes (including a balsamic chocolate torte), and her always kick-ass toffees.  We don't really do Valentine's Day in the FvF household (at my insistence), but I'd be happy to spend some quality time alone with these confections for the special day.  

You can pre-order goodies for this event by emailing her at , or just find her at Webster Street Market!  

Monday, January 14, 2013

Culp's Cafe - Dayton, Ohio (Carillon Park)

I'd found myself eyeballing Culp's menu on a number of occasions, when trying to find a lunch spot to meet a business partner about halfway between Dryden Road and Wilmington Pike.  Natural direction usually leads me to linger around oakwood, but there aren't a ton of great lunch options there.  The first time she talked me into trying Cooper's Deli, despite my argument that a nearly $20 rueben has no place in a market like Dayton.  It was decent, but not $20 sandwich good, that's for sure.  Apparently, the eaters agreed with me by refusing to pay those prices for meat and bread, and Cooper's closed after less than one year in business.

Anyhow, Culp's Cafe has a nifty and rich history behind it, which I'll let you read on Dayton History's website.  Their menu is pretty expansive for such a small place, which isn't always a good thing.  I'd had my eyes on their chicken salad (vanilla choice, I know - but I love a good chicken salad sandwich, and never eat it at home because only the Lil one and I enjoy it) - but ended up going a different route. We had a late lunch and they were down to their last few pieces of quiche, so I opted for the ham & cheese quiche with a side salad.  I certainly wasn't expecting such a mammoth slice, and never expect spring mix, oranges, pecans and housemade vinaigrette when I hear "side salad."  It was far and away the best piece of quiche I've ever had.  The custard was perfectly fluffy with a spot-on crust that still flaked apart, even on the bottom.  The fillings were strong enough in flavor, but didn't overwhelm the eggs.

My lunch buddy ordered a quesadilla (also gigantic), and they happily accommodated some special requests that she made without making her feel picky.  Since we were dawdling on a business lunch, we decided to order the same dessert as the one we saw come out to the table next to us when we found out there was only one piece of the Culp's cake left.  This is Devil's food cake with boiled caramel icing.  This didn't seem decadent enough, so we ordered it a la mode.  It was indeed, sin and damnation on a plate, and we barely even put a dent in it before deciding it was far too rich to finish between the two of us.  

After visiting, I'm really surprised the place wasn't packed.  The service was tops, quality and portion size was on the upper end of the scale, and prices were more than reasonable.  Culp's has everything from salads, quiche, sandwiches, pot pie, fountain sodas, and they even serve wine and beer.  If you're planning a family outing to Carillon Park, there really no reason to go off premises for a good meal to round out your day.  The only thing I'd change about Culp's is their hours.  11a-3p every day, but I bet they could do a bang-up job on dinner service if they were so inclined.  

5 out of 5 sporks!
Culp's Cafe on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Lucky's Taproom & Eatery - Dayton, Ohio

You're probbaly figuring out by now that I have a ton of back-logged reviews.  congratulations! You're very intuitive.  Your mother says so. On another morning when Lil FvF was with the grandparents, we decided to finally get around to trying Lucky's for brunch. We get in a bad habit of always wanting to go to Golden Nugget, so our breakfast and brunch wishlist is long.  Blind Bob's menu always looks great, but for personal reasons, I don't eat there.  Lucky's brunch menu is on the smaller side, which isn't always a bad thing - plus they offered gluten-free banana bread French toast.  Score!

Well, not so fast.  It was just alright.  It was very mealy, which can be expected from g/f items, so I can't place that blame on the recipe or the cook.  I didn't taste the slightest hint of banana, either. The density inside and crunchy outside were tops, but the overall texture and taste was just off.  I got a little bit of both the maple breakfast sausage and smoked bacon, both of which were excellent.  The eggs were just eggs.  Nicely cooked, but by no means fluffy.

Mr. FvF really enjoyed his chorizo breakfast tacos, but the "home fries" went to waste because they'd been cooked with peppers and onions (not noted on the menu), both of which he can't stand.

Our server had an almost empty house, with only us and one other party of drunken ladies brunching, but she was pretty out to lunch the whole time.  We had to go to the bar and ask for refills and had no flatware on our table when our food came.

Reasonably priced, free lot parking, bloody mary bar and perfect meats give them a lot of aces, but they need to offer a few more better-executed options to keep us coming back.

3 out of 5 sporks! 

Lucky's Taproom & Eatery on Urbanspoon