Buffalo Wild Wings – Harrison, OH

My son has recently developed a love for chicken wings. He’s a little late to the buffalo wing game but I’m just glad that he’s eating something different.

After church, a few Sundays ago, we were solo and wanted some apps – more specifically, my son wanted wings and pretzels. Yep, he’s definitely becoming a man.

We’ve been to Buffalo Wild Wings before, of course, and it’s 1 of the 5 restaurants in Harrison but hey, I like blogging and taking food pictues so…get over it.

I like this location – it’s HUGE. Lots of tv’s for the football watching. And, the running kids aren’t as noticeable because of the restaurant’s vastness. Please note sarcasm and judgement.

My son – being predictable got the pretzels and wings (medium)

BW3 pretzels.jpg

BW3 wings.jpg

That time, the pretzels were a smidgen overcooked and crunchy. Usually, they’re good. My son just didn’t care as much as I did and since he was the one eating them, I backed off and let it go (start singing).

True to MY predictive nature, I got Nachos and Onion Rings.

BW3 onion rings.jpg

BW3 nachos

The onion rings are awesome – if you’re in search of perfect ones, these are it. Crunchy and the onion doesn’t come out in one piece. #firstworldproblems.

The nachos, while good, aren’t perfect. Not enough “stuff” – I know it looks fully topped but it’s mostly lettuce. The cheese and chili is almost non-existent. They need sour cream, black olives and PICKLED jalapenos (not real ones). And, of course, guacamole. But, these will do in a nacho pinch.

I realize that it’s not fine dining but I do enjoy Buffalo Wild Wings – probably because I enjoy fun appetizers and the smell of buffalo sauce can always make my mouth water. I’m a simple girl.

Buffalo Wild Wings Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

TGIF – Western Hills

It’s been a good 7 years since I’ve been to a Friday’s. There’s nothing really appealing about it. I hate that the menu is ungodly huge. I hate that it’s a sub-par chain. I just don’t understand it’s appeal, in general.

However, after doing a bit of Black Friday shopping, my kids wanted to go there for a fast lunch.Why? Appetizers. Dammit. That will do people in every time.

They BOTH got the Pick 3 appetizers…

My daughter got the wings, potato skins and mozzarella sticks (after much deliberation)

Pick 3 Maddie

My son got the wings, pretzels (surprise!) and mozzarella sticks.

Pick 3 Mikey

And, like I predicted, they could have shared one. Mother knows best.

I got the Tostado Nachos

Nachos

They were good but let me be VERY clear here – they were $10!!! Are you frickin’ kidding me? On what planet are 8 tortilla chips, topped with cheese and beans worth $10???!!! Apparently, planet Friday’s. And, they were probably a little more because I got a side of guacamole (sour cream or guac SHOULD have come with them, Friday’s)

Guac

And, my pet peeve – putting sauces, condiments, etc on a bed of lettuce. Just don’t do it. If I wanted guacamole lettuce, I would have ASKED for guacamole lettuce. Seriously, just put it in a damn ramekin and we’ll all be happy.

My short lunch excursion, based on apps, put me back $50, without the tip. You know what ain’t nobody got time for? That.

I can go a full 7 more years without eating there again.

TGI Fridays Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

Christmas Cookies 2015

I hate baking. I CAN bake and I do it quite well. Like I told my husband…I feel like something magical happens when I bake. (He claims I’m an egomaniac) But I still hate it.

So, what did the reluctant baker make this Christmas, cookie-wise?

Chocolate Chip – yes, so not inspiring but still a family favorite. AND, a family recipe.

Chocolate Chip

Snickerdoodles – a lot of people claim not to like these but that means that they haven’t had MINE.

Snickerdoodles

Sugar cookies – again, I make the best WITH stackable delicious icing. Thanks to my daughter and her friend for their decorating abilities.

Sugar cookies

And, because the snow globes looked like mushrooms, this happened.

Mushroom

Toad

Lemon Cups – one of my favorites!

Lemon cups

Berger Cookies – it’s a Baltimore thing?

Berger cookies

Russian Teacakes with Chocolate Chips – my mom is horrified that I would add chocolate chips. My philosophy is that everything is better with a smidgen of chocolate, right?

Russian Teacakes

And powdered sugar is the herpes of the baking world. Seriously.

Full Cookie Tray

Cookie tray

I also made red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese icing that I loaded into a mason jar. Attach a spoon and voila! Instant portable treat!

Cupcake jar front

Cupcake jar back

And, so concludes cookie season 2015!

Seriously, I hate it.

Merry Christmas and happy baking!

Thanksgiving 2015

Since I cook for a living, I consider Thanksgiving to be my cooking Superbowl. I know it seems like I’m a control freak (okay, I am a little) but I just really enjoy making everything…I encourage those coming to Thanksgiving dinner at my house to just bring themselves and an appetite. I LOVE doing it.

I have perfected and streamlined Thanksgiving – it’s no longer a challenge thanks to a double oven, metal disposable pans and brining the turkey (that bad boy cooks FAST).

What does someone who cooks and blogs make for Thanksgiving? Look and see…it’s not as hoity toity as you might like to believe!

Brining the turkey

Brining turkey

Grabbing those sliders a day early…

Crave case.jpg

Make that bread stale!

Staling bread

Out of the oven – brined, golden and delicious!

Turkey finished

And, here’s where opinions and traditions fly – this is what we enjoy on our table. I like the traditional mixed with the new.

Mashed Potatoes (with loads of butter – is there any other way?)

Mashed Potatoes

There was also a crapton of gravy that I didn’t take a picture of. You can never have too much gravy.

Crunchy topped Sweet Potato Casserole (Ruth Chris’ recipe)

Sweet Potato Casserole

Traditional Dressing (a family recipe) When the celery and onions hit the 20 sticks of butter, it smells like Thanksgiving has arrived!

Traditional dressing

White Castle Dressing – you know, because we can.

WC dressing

7 – layer salad (gotta have some green things…mixed with bacon and mayo)

7 layer salad

Green Beans – please note, none of that creamy casserole crap. I just can’t. My one snobby cook moment. These had a vinaigrette on them.

Green beans

And, why not another starch…or 2.

Creamy Corn Casserole

Creamy corn casserole

Macaroni and Cheese – requested by my daughter and sister. Of course, my daughter and I were battling about pasta shape. I wanted penne or corkscrew. She wanted shells. I found bigger shells so I let her have her way. This time.

Macaroni and cheese

And, what’s Thanksgiving without the ridged, sliced jellied cranberry sauce? I’ve given up the fight of making fresh cranberry sauce – I love it but no one else does.

Cranberry sauce

I’ll admit – there’s something fairly comforting about those slices.

Oh and we had rolls and more rolls. The crescent kind. It’s what everyone craves and enjoys so it saves me from making homemade bread. I’m good.

Lots of dessert. Some wine. Okay, I had a whole bottle.

I love cooking Thanksgiving. I love having a day, reflecting on our blessings throughout the year. I love spending time with loved ones. And, I love feeding people (what I hope is) delicious food!

Looking forward to Thanksgiving 2016!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cock & Bull – Mainstrasse

It was my best friend’s birthday a few weeks ago and she had her heart set on Brazenhead but, strangely, when she called to make a reservation, they were closed. The hunt for a new birthday restaurant began – we landed on Cock & Bull since it’s the same concept. Sort of.

Out of the 4 of us, my husband was the only one who has been to the Cock & Bull. I had not a single clue what to expect.

It’s definitely a bar first and then a restaurant – there are a million craft beers (I’m beginning to hate those 2 words…) to choose from. We were told that our wait for a table would be about 5 minutes. I’m still not sure if there IS a seating system but apparently we tracked down the right person.

Before we could even order a beer from the bar, we were parked at a table near the front door. It’s pretty clusterish in there.

I needed a beer – I ordered a Delirium Tremens

Beer

It was good. NOT $9.50 (yeah, you read that correctly) good. But, good. I would have been just as happy with a budlight or blue moon. (As all the craft beer followers gasp in pain…)

Since my best friend has a slight pretzel addiction, we got the pretzels as an appetizer.

Pretzels.jpg

Damn delicious pretzels – super salty, crunchy and soft. Yum.

Items we ordered…

Baked Cod with sweet potato fries

Baked cod.jpg

The Reuben with fries

Reuben.jpg

Fish’n’Chips (the bestie and I both got this) Lightweight version

Fish'n'chips.jpg

I will admit. I hated the atmosphere. The service was subpar (she was on top of things but then just disappeared – took forever to get our check!). But, the fish’n’chips were some of the best I’ve had.

Now – the question is…would I go back just for that reason? No. I hated the chaos. I hated people bumping into our table. Service was uber slow. The ambiance sucked.

I can get fish’n’chips somewhere else.

Cock & Bull Public House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

 

Poynor’s Pomme Frites – Pigeon Forge, TN

Yes, lots of fancy wording for Fried Potatoes – AKA: Fries!

I’ll admit, one of my secret (or not so secret) restaurant dreams is to open up a french fry shop – nothing but delicious, homemade french fries, served with sauces upon sauces upon sauces.

That’s what Poynor’s Pomme Frites does! Except they add in sausages and ice cream too. That’s about 2 more items than I would ever do. Poynor’s is located at The Island in Pigeon Forge – it’s tucked in right alongside of the awesomely huge ferris wheel. Parking is a bit of a cluster for the Island so…go to the far right when pulling in, park by a tram stop and let the tram bring you right to the entrance of the Island. So many awesome shops back there!

I was already sucked in by the concept. We just wanted something “small” to tide us over until our big dinner at Paula Deen’s. And, we all really enjoy fries. My biggest worry would be what sauces to pick.

My daughter got the cheesy pomme frites (with jalapenos and bacon and onions and all things delicious). She chose the chipotle ranch to go with them. Solid choice – I raised her right.

Cheesy Fries.jpg

I didn’t dedicate myself to my own item because I knew my kids would over order. I definitely plucked off my share of these perfect fries. My daughter was in heaven.

My son and I split a large pomme frites – he got ketchup and I got the jalapeno ranch and coo coo sauce (horseradish sauce – think, bloomin’ onion sauce).

Pomme Frites

That is a cone filled with salty fried potato awesomeness. The fries were crispy and fresh. Hot and salty. Even though we split them, I don’t think we even made a significant dent in them. So much for our “small” meal!

My husband was a little hungrier so he did get a sausage (I have no clue what he got – sorry!) with his fries. And, his sauce choice was wasabi mayo! I loved that they have a full carrier of different mustards for the sausages.

Sausage.jpg

You do pay a little bit more for food on The Island – our total for the cheesy fries, 1 large fry, the combo (his had a large fry too) and 3 drinks was around $38. But, I will pay that all day long for homemade food that’s locally owned.

Which leads me to…my daughter and I were chatting with the owner. They were awesome and helpful and so passionate about what they’re doing. I love that they not only have opened a restaurant but they also give back to the community and to mission trips. I love their foodie hearts and souls!

If you’re in Pigeon Forge and you’d like a delicious, fast lunch or dinner – go to Poynor’s and grab some pomme frites…it’s a unique, fun and tasty experience!

Poynor's Pommes Frites Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen – Pigeon Forge, TN

Just got back from our quick trip to the south. It’s a nice post-Christmas getaway with lots to do and awesome shopping!

One thing you can count on for the south is Jesus and Fried Food! Amen!

This past trip, I noticed that pretty many restaurants are switching to a Family style of dining – meaning, it’s a buffet right at your own table. I have mixed thoughts on this – but, I’ll explain later. Let’s get to some food.

Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen is located on The Island in Pigeon Forge. If you’ve never been there before – parking is far to the right but there are trams and trolleys that will run you from the parking lot to the shopping/dining area. Do that.

Also, our first attempt at Paula Deen’s, there was a 2 1/2 hour wait at 8PM. Yeah…not going to happen. Call ahead and you can eliminate an hour of your wait time! Do that.

We called at 4:30 (the next evening) – got to Paula Deen’s around 5:20 and we only waited another 30 minutes. There are lots of rocking chairs outside, a fabulous Paula Deen gift shop AND tons of fun specialty stores on The Island, too. The wait goes by pretty fast.

When I finally got THE text (table is ready!), I went to the hostess stand and she told me to go upstairs via the escalators. The restaurant is beautiful and the view of The Island, especially at night,  is awesome. In the land of (self-proclaimed – it’s on practically every sign!) hill billies, this restaurant is trendy and gorgeous. Definitely a bit classier than a lot of restaurants in Pigeon Forge.

PD restaurant

Family Style at Paula Deen’s means that for 21.99/person (kids 5-10 are less) you get to choose 3 meats and 4 sides – plus, everyone gets biscuits and a dessert. All items (minus the dessert) are re-fillable too.

We started off with these awesome cheesy garlic biscuits, sitting on top of hoe cakes (fried corncakes) with sweet potato butter.

PD biscuits and hoe cakes

Game over. We can stop right there. I would have been perfectly happy with foodie life with just those items. Yum. I made a trade with my son, since I was getting full – 1/2 a biscuit for the rest of his hoe cake. He accepted.

For our meats, we choose Fried Chicken (do this!), Fried catfish and lasagna. I needed something other than a fried food. 😉

Our sides – corn casserole, creamed potatoes, sweet potatoes and mac’n’cheese.

PD food

PD fried chicken

EVERYTHING was absolutely delicious. I couldn’t find fault with a single item. The fried chicken was old school – double dredged in seasoned flour, fried in peanut oil for a super crispy, light breading. My daughter was doing a happy dance while eating it. The fried chicken is the only item we got re-filled. I focused on the catfish – light and flaky and the homemade tartar was fantastic too. I blended the tartar with Paula’s hot sauce – it was fabulous (I bought a bottle downstairs at the gift shop).

My only losing item was the dessert – choices…banana pudding (puke, hate bananas), peach cobbler (puke, hate hot fruit) and the Ooey Gooey Butter Cake, which proved promising until we discovered that it was a pumpkin cake that night. Boo. My son hated all the choices too.

I think our server (who was fast and friendly – always there with smiles and refills) had a crush on my husband because he was being indecisive and she gave him two desserts.

Banana Pudding

PD banana pudding

Peach Cobbler 

PD peach cobbler

Ooey Gooey Pumpkin Cake

PD pumpkin cake

I ate a couple of bites – I was too full to really care about dessert anyway.

That Paula Deen REALLY knows what she’s doing cooking wise. But, in general, I’m not a fan of the family style (aka: buffet) dining. I get that Pigeon Forge is crazy busy (and let’s face it, pigs) and it makes sense to focus on limited items.

But, for our family, it just doesn’t make sense. We had a ton of food leftover and we definitely didn’t eat enough to justify a $130 check. You also don’t get to take any “leftover” food – which I get if it’s food that you’ve refilled. But, what if it’s your original amounts of food? (We didn’t finish a single thing and/or refill anything minus the fried chicken) Seems like a LOT of waste going on there. Keep in mind, I’m not a “cheap” person. With that said, because the food is awesome, we’d be willing to go again – we DO only go once a year. PLUS, I got key lime chap stick in the gift shop – HELLO!

Paula Deen – you make my foodie heart sing. Even though I really need a salad and some broccoli right now. 😉

Paula Deen's Family Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

 

 

 

 

Crave – Cincinnati

Yes, it’s been a really long time since I’ve blogged. Work and the holidays tend to keep me super busy until the end of the year. (Like everyone else)

Crave happened a few months ago. There was a groupon for Crave and I hopped on it.

Made a reservation with another couple and boom! We were in on a Saturday night (that and we were seeing a movie – War Room – go see it!). Yes, the typical couples thing. 😉

The restaurant is beautiful inside – open and modern. Shiny (which I thoroughly enjoy). I’m not quite sure what my expectations were – I’m pretty leery of trendy restaurants by Great American Ball Park.

Since it’s been a while, I’m going to post some food pics and give my general thoughts after. I also forgot (or my camera ate it) to take a pic of MY food. Ugh. Amateur.

Pepperoni Flatbread

Flatbread

The husband and I split this – VERY good. I’m not, however, a huge fan of fresh basil. I plucked that right off. 🙂

Kobi Beef Tacos

short rib tacos

The husband was in love with these. So much, that he ordered another round!

Fries

Fries

We DO love our fries. And, these, were delicious!

Some sort of sushi (it’s been a long time, people!)

Sushi

I took a piece of sushi – it was good. But, seriously, any time you give me something with wasabi on it, I’m going to love it.

I got the Steak Frites and my picture got lost in a black hole somewhere. I enjoyed my steak with Bearnaise and asparagus is always tasty.

The husband and I liked our food. It wasn’t the best meal of my life but I couldn’t pick it apart if I wanted to. However, it was mega money, even though we had a groupon. With so many other restaurants, with amazing food, I can’t see spending over $100 here again any time soon.

I liked it but don’t CRAVE it. 😉

Crave Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Hofbrauhaus – Newport

We were invited to celebrate with some awesome friends at the Hofbrauhaus a few weeks ago. It’s been quite a few years (maybe, 8 years?) since we’ve been there. Perfect opportunity to blog about German food things!

I would say that I don’t like german food but that’s not true – I like sauerkraut, goetta, pretzels and German style potato salad.  And, I really love to scream “WIENER SCHNITZEL!”. Does that count? So – I was willing to give Hofbrauhaus new foodie eyes.

We were on a super long wait – but, I think that has to do more with the beer than the food. 😉

I didn’t get beer – oddly enough, just not in the mood. We were just back from vacation and I had an evening full of margaritas while in Destin. Wasn’t quite ready to drink much of anything.

What do you do when you’re Americans in a German restaurant? Order Pretzels for an appetizer!

Pretzels

The pretzels were delicious (needed more salt but I say that about most things) and the bier cheese? So frickin’ yum!

The husband ordered the Wurstlplatte (I think that means a bunch of wienies on a plate) but got potato pancakes instead of mashed potatoes. I approved of his substitution.

Mett Platter

That potato pancake was awesome – super crispy outside but creamy on the inside. It did need a sauce (not ketchup).

I was having a hard time deciding on something. My mind just was constantly yelling, “Wiener Schnitzel” because my inner 5-year-old was on fire.

My brain shut down and I got my go to…A Reuben. Yes, I know. Branching out of my comfort zone.

Reuben

Loved the swirl rye. The corned beef was okay. Fries were horrendous. Honestly, my Reuben at McGuire’s (in destin) was better than this one. And that one is made by the Irish! The husband had no issues polishing off the other half. We’re both suckers for 1000 island.

I suppose I don’t really dislike German food. I love some aspects of it. But I have a tendency to gravitate toward more bold flavors (hence, my love of Mexican) and german is a smidgen bland.

I had a great time with great friends and the Hofbrauhaus is always quite the experience. But, if the hubby and I are choosing a date night restaurant, this isn’t it.

Hofbrauhaus Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

 

 

 

 

Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant

It’s that time of year again – the time that the husband and I celebrate our love and marriage…October!

Our typical anniversary restaurant is Eddie Merlot’s – it makes me so happy. But, the husband decided to go rogue this year and picked Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant

I had mixed feelings – while I love trying new restaurants (uh, hello, food blog!), I just wasn’t feeling it after looking at the menu. The menu wasn’t cohesive and I couldn’t get a grasp on what food they were known for. Yes, I get it’s a winery but they also have food. 😉 But, because I’m willing to be flexible and because they had wine, I ignored my menu skepticism and booked a table.

The restaurant is beautiful – trendy but not pretentious.

Pretty

The husband, even though he doesn’t drink, loved the big wine dispensers. He was trying to convince me to get a bottle of wine so we’d get this…

Wine dispensers

I prefer to be coherent while eating dinner so, I just went with a white wine flight –> so fun!

Landing pad

wine flight pad

Flight

White wine flight

Our server was awesome – I wish I could remember her name. But, I’m 40 so it’ll never come to me. But, she was definitely on top of it all night!

The menu – can you believe that up until I ordered, I still had NO idea what I was getting? It had me perplexed!

Menu

For an appetizer, we got the Asian Pork Belly Tostadas

Pork belly tostadas

Those were awesomely delicious – every little crunchy bite was filled with pork belly goodness. They disappeared rapidly.

Everyone gets bread – the pretzel variety!

Pretzel bread better

The husband loved it. I thought it needed some salt – I mean, it was a pretzel and all.

The husband got the Surf and Turf – Crab Cakes and Parmesan Crusted Filet Medallions with wasabi mashed potatoes. Like I get sucked into all things goat cheese, he gets sucked into all things wasabi.

Mike surf and turf

He loved it. I think he preferred the filet to the crab cakes but…he’s a guy so…

I started with a cup of Crab and Lobster Bisque ( I’m a senior citizen at heart and love soup)

Crab and Lobster bisque

I loved the first few bites but then the veggies got to be a little overwhelming. To be fair, it did have good crab and lobster consistency so I’ll consider it a soup win.

After much deliberation and I’m still not quite sure what my deciding factor was, I chose the Red Wine Braised Short Ribs. I think it was the onion straws that pushed me in that direction.

Braised short ribs

I hate saying this but it reminded me of pot roast. I wasn’t a fan of the grilled celery (that’s so wrong on so many levels). The sauce and the onions were awesome, however. Instead of mashed potatoes, I got Betty’s Potatoes (basically, hash brown casserole).

Potatoes Betty

Frickin’ yum. The husband kept stealing bites.

We were super full so we got dessert. 😉 I knew, even though it was OUR anniversary, that I was never winning any dessert argument. He always wants chocolate. I don’t. But, since he wanted dessert more and I wanted wine more, he got to choose.

Cooper’s Hawk Chocolate Cake

cake better

Okay, so I don’t even love chocolate like my husband does but that was some damn good chocolate cake. It had this whippy mousse on top – so yum. I took 3 bites and then continued on with my wine.

Winemaker’s Barrel Reserve – Bordeaux

Red wine

I love red wine. I miss red wine. Have I mentioned that I’m slightly allergic to it? Yeah, it makes my nose get stuffy and my cheeks get flushed. But, it was so worth popping a benedryl for!

The night was perfect because I was with the love of my life. I really enjoyed the pork belly tostadas, the potatoes and the cake. Oh, and the wine! But, is this one of my new favorite restaurants? No.

Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato