Tickle My Pickle at the Bellini & Bloody Bar

 

I carpooled to New Richmond, Ohio with my friend and fellow Board member, Bill. We carpool because it is an hour-long drive and it is nice to have the company. Bill has a farm out there and I have a friend who has a house full of awesome kids out there. We stopped at Bill’s farm so I could see it.

 

The gal running the farm wasn’t there, but left a bucket of alfalfa bunches for Bill to feed the cattle. He told me to wait by the car. I said, “No, I want to help.” So, you will love this. I take a few alfalfa bunches and I head to the edge of the fence and the cattle are in the mud and I go to put my left foot on what I assumed was solid ground to watch it sink into the thick, gruesome looking mud. I quickly pulled it out. Thankfully, it wasn’t as bad as it sounded or could have been. I felt like Lucille Ball in a funny skit of hers. Like the one where she is stomping through the grapes to make wine. THEN…even more like her….I fed the cattle in front of me and there were a bunch that weren’t getting food. So, I walked down the fence line and this time I made sure I was on firm grounding. I reached my hand in and said, “Here, Cattle, Cattle…” They ignored me. I can’t understand this because I would totally come running for food! Okay, maybe not alfalfa bunches. So, I reached my arm in further and again started calling…”Cattle, cattle…” and with that I felt a slight tinkling across my chest. I said, “Bill, I feel like I just got shocked!” His response, “Oh Erin, I am so sorry I forgot to tell you!” He told me I could sue him. I said, “Suing you doesn’t get me back the brain cells I just lost!”

 

Then he drove down the center of the road to my friend’s house. I yelled Bill, what if a car comes over the hill and hits us? “No, no Erin, this is how they drive out here in the country!” The moral of the story is….I belong in the city. I am NOT a country girl.

 

He dropped me at Mindy’s and I told her the story and she said, “We got hit by someone who drove down the center of the street and came over a hill and nailed us.” Bill may have lost his carpool buddy!

 

Mindy and I went to a restaurant down by the river with a view of the Ohio River called Front Street Café.

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I had a yummy bowl of clam chowder and a plate of chicken salad. Mindy had a big salad. Then us WHOLE 30 gals…had dessert! I know…she said she was and all my willpower was gone at the idea of a slice of Cheesecake drizzled with Raspberry topping. Although, Mindy’s cherry topping gave me food envy! I have no idea why before this diet I rarely thought of cheesecake and now it is what I crave! So strange!

 

We had such a great time! I just love Mindy! She is so cool. We left lunch and then went back to the house to hangout with her kids Ruby and Wagner. Until Bill came to pick me up. I felt like I was a kid getting picked up after school.

 

I raced home to get Vivian and Trouble and take them to see the goats at Spring Grove. I know…so odd. A friend emailed me and asked if I had been over to see the goats that were at the cemetery to eat ivy and honeysuckle. I thought it was a joke, apparently not, so I thought it would be a good outing for us!

Well, there were six goats. Their names are: Prince Charming, Pixie and Dixie, Little King, Allie, Della and Annie.

Goat names

They are cute and sweet and the guy who owned them said they could be ours after they finish their job at the cemetery.

 

On Saturday night, I went with my soul sister Amy ( I call her my soul sister because she grew up in Glendale and I in Wyoming and we not only know a lot of people in common and her mom grew up with my dad, but we are so much alike in so many ways, we joke that maybe we are twins and that we were split at birth), my friend Lou, and a friend of Amy’s Leigh. We went to try the new burger joint down the road called TICKLE PICKLE. Let me tell you it tickles my pickle and I don’t even have a pickle! During the summer, before they renovated the inside they had a window out back and my friend Jo and I went and tried it. SUCH a good burger!! I don’t know what they did, but yum!

So, now here I am inside many months later…the back window was closed for the winter. The place looks great and the second burger was as good as the first.

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I ordered the METALLICA burger, which had bacon, egg, American cheese and mayo on it. AND…the egg was runny. I HATE, DETEST, DEPLORE when I get a fried egg and the egg is not runny. WHAT IS THE POINT?? Oh it was good….

TICKLE BURGER

 

The others all got the Zepplin burger, which was typical American burger with lettuce, tomato, onion, etc. And Leigh ordered the Oreo Speedwagon milkshake. It looked yummy. I tasted it. It was yummy.

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The décor was fun and I highly recommend it for a good burger.

 

OH there is nothing like a big chunk of meat! Don’t you feel so sorry for vegetarians? I know I do! But I just learned their black bean burger is really good too!

 

Speaking of meat, I made my Spaghetti Squash with ground chuck and tomato sauce on top. There is so much spaghetti squash that you can get multiple meals out of it. As much as I like meat, I don’t eat it that frequently. I wanted to do a different sauce over the squash. I have no idea what to call this…Erin’s Mish Mash Roux with Blue Cheese?

 

I made a roux…or as one of my mom’s friends likes to call it “rocks”…with equal parts butter and substituted regular flour with almond flour. Then added milk. I eyeballed it till I hit the consistency I liked. Then I added crumbles of blue cheese and mixed it until it melted. Added a pinch of salt and pepper.

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In a skillet, I sautéed onions, garlic and mushrooms.

 

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Here is how I put this together….

BOTTOM LAYER

Spaghetti Squash

SECOND LAYER

Roux-like sauce…so it sinks into the squash…

THIRD LAYER

Sauteed onions, garlic and mushrooms

FOURTH LAYER

I took about 3 oz. of rotisserie chichen shred it and put it on top

Stirred and served.

It was good. I couldn’t even tell the sauce had almond flour instead of real flour.

I wish I could give you measurements on all of this…but I can’t. You are going to have to wing it!

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I still had more spaghetti squash so I took onions, garlic and mushrooms and sautéed them in olive oil with salt and butter and then added thyme, oregano, basil and parsley, then a spoonful of capers. HEAPING spoonful and stirred it all up and then poured it over another serving of spaghetti squash and mixed it all together and it was yummy!

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You can get so many meals from that one spaghetti squash. It is utterly amazing what a cheap, delicious and nutritious vegetable it is!

 

Suddenly, I was craving shrimp. I think people think that shrimp is an expensive novelty, but it really isn’t! Maybe it was years ago, but I buy a pound of shrimp for $9.99 and I get three meals out of it. You do the math, since I stink at math and you will realize…that is not pricey and there are so many things you can do with shrimp.

I sautéed onions, garlic, salt and pepper in a combination of butter and olive oil and added spinach. I cooked it down until it wilted and then I added shrimp and cooked them till they turned pink and curled. I tossed it in a bowl.

It was such a low calorie, healthy AND delicious dinner.

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I made a tomatillo sauce (recipe in previous blog) for a pork chop and had sauce leftover. I drizzled it over roasted plantains the next morning for an unusually good breakfast.

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My totally awesome family. How many people can say that? Is that because they are still relatively new to me? Nah! I just love them all. Well, they have a very old family friend and we went to her place for lunch.

 

She made Netherland Salad. It was not only beautiful, but delicious! If you aren’t from Cincy you do not know this salad. I don’t think! Here is my history with it. I grew up with a mother, who loved and adored this salad. It is served at the Netherland Hotel in Cincinnati. As a child, my mom and her friends would take the bus downtown and go to the Netherland and order this salad. My mom rarely comes to Cincinnati for a visit without stopping for this salad. So, I grew up with this salad being “THEE” salad, and for me it was the bees knees until Chop’T came to New York and I fell in love with the Gotham salad and then for me THAT was the salad, but the Netherland Salad is special to a lot of us!

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Fran also made a wonderful tomato soup. It was yummy. She had a beautiful home and scattered across her living room table were what appeared to be ornaments. We each were to pick up an ornament that reminded us of a story and tell the story. It was quite clever and it was a way for everyone to perhaps learn a little something they never knew about one another.

 

Here’s to family and friends and Netherland salad.

 

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How many different ways can one cook broccoli? I felt like I had recently been doing the same recipes and I needed to find a different recipe. I opened up a Barefoot Contessa cookbook and found this simple and yet scrumptious recipe. It is so easy and so good! I don’t think it sounds like it would have that much flavor, but it does!

 Broccoli with Red Pepper Flakes and Garlic (Ina Garten’s recipe…not verbatim)

I first steamed broccoli. Tossed into a bowl of cold water and ice to retain color.

In a skillet, I used a wok. I poured in olive oil, red pepper flakes and a chopped garlic clove.

I poured the broccoli into the wok and cooked until it reached a good consistency for me.

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I keep being bad on my diet. I need to fly right and follow it. Eating Graeter’s ice cream for dessert at Fran’s is not being good. It tastes good, but it is not really on my diet AT ALL!!! But wouldn’t it have been rude to not eat it??

The best way to fly right is to stock the refrigerator right. If it is not there to eat…you can’t eat it. So, I went green.

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It had been so long since I made my friend Jennie’s ceviche topping for fish. It was time to pull out that light and yummy recipe for my monkfish. Poor man’s lobster. A yummy white fish full of flavor. I cooked this in olive oil, salt and pepper.

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Recipe Adaptation of Jennie’s Peruvian Dish (great on fish)

Tomatoes

Avocado

Onion

Fruit (strawberries, mango, whatever is sweet)

Jalapeno peppers (4-5 cut small)

Olive oil

Salt

Pepper

Lime

Cook fish in olive oil, salt, pepper & drizzled with honey- fork fish before dressing and cooking it

I didn’t have tomatoes or strawberries, so I used avocado, tart cherries and grapes instead. Trust me…just as good…

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Here is the problem with sugar. If you eat it, you crave it. If you don’t…you don’t!

I needed to wean myself back off the sugar while I was craving it terribly. I decided that I would make a trail mix that was sweet and salty, but only natural sugars.

In a bowl I added:

Pecans

Almonds

Sunflower seeds

Dried tart cherries

Figs

Dates

1 t. coconut oil (or you can use a few drops of olive oil

Toss in a pinch of salt

Stir and devour

And you will….

Sweet and salty…

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When I was over in Venice, Italy the home of hand blown beautiful glass. I picked up five pieces of glass that the storekeeper said were unwanted scraps and I bought them and brought them home.

 

I showed them to my mobile making friend Karen. She gave me a lesson on how to make a mobile.

 

Here is a close-up of one of the discarded glass scraps.

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Here is the mobile I created.

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Well, you know me. Once I get on a creative jaunt. I just keep going. This was a very tired and sad Shoot the Moon that I couldn’t part with it.

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I think it came from the garage of our old dear friends the Wilders from when they left Cincy in the 70s. I decided it needed a facelift.

 

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My friend Mary’s daughter got this off the charts cute pooch and wanted to go visit her mom but didn’t want to put this adorable puppy in the kennel so this little bundle of love named Crosby came here for a few days. Dulce was unsure of him, but everyone else fell in love and how could you not with this face!

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My porch furniture cushions were disintegrating. BADLY. I should have done this last summer but the task seemed too large. This year, I couldn’t afford not to address it, so I put it on my winter to do list. I found fabric at Joann’s and had a 60% off coupon and I took my porch furniture from this:

 

 

To this….

 

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I must confess…I am pretty darn proud of myself…until I tell you I wrapped those cushions like presents and instead of using tape…I used safety pins…heck my mom did it to the old covers…so I just followed and by george…I think it worked.

My friends Kris and Patrick have been raving about a sushi place in OTR called KAZE. I saw a Groupon for it and asked them if they wanted to go!

OMG! I thought it was fantastic!!! And the decor was cool too!

I first started with a pork belly bun. I have a hard time not getting pork belly on a menu. It had apple, frisee and a mustard vinaigrette on it. I could have eaten 5!

Then for sushi I had…

Hamachi yellowtail with roasted asparagus, scallion, tempura crunch and ponzu.

A dragon roll with shrimp tempura, bbq eel, cucumber, avocado, tsume and masago.

Both were really good!!!! I would go back in a heartbeat and here is a shot of the decor…

inside Kaze

After speaking with my friends Joan and Charlie about mussels, I had to get some…I went to Findlay Market and bought them and cooked them like this…

In a saucepan, I added garlic, onion,  salt and pepper and sauteed until onions were translucent then added parsley, wine…no measurements…

I cooked mussels in water and wine combo above until they popped open…

Poured into a bowl and poured the garlic, wine mixture over them and ate….

Love good mussels….

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A AWESOME New York thing….in New York to promote macaroons they had a day dedicated to them and you could go get them for FREE. My friend CT asked me where she should go to try them…I wanted to tell her everywhere. THIS is why NY is so flippin’ great!!! And if you don’t know Payard…trust me…you want to!!!

maccaroon day in ny

My totally awesome family did Easter brunch at my Aunt Connie’s and they sure do know how to do it right!

 

My cousin Pam made a bellini bar…took fruits and created these fresh and really delicious fruit nectars to add to Champagne. Since I am not a drinker I just mixed them all together and added them to orange juice. I loved it! So clever….

 

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Then my cousin Debbie made the most unbelievable bloody bar I have ever seen….I couldn’t believe all the options!

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Pam….I almost forgot to crop this and I went to look at pics one last time and thought…OH CRAP!!! I need to crop this or Pam will kill me. Made you laugh…

I had to make one of those too! Look at what I created. Are you ready for this…on my skewer I have heart of palm, baby beet and olives. In the glass, I have a wedge of lime, a stick of pepperoni, and a piece of bacon.

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Then Pam made this really yummy egg casserole that someone had served for brunch the day after her wedding years ago and the story and the casserole continues today…

 

And on that note…I will say…

Until we meet again…

Enjoy! Eat, travel, laugh…often….

 

 

 

 

 

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