Saturday, November 27, 2010

Roasted Cauliflower

So Thanksgiving Day 2010 has passed and we are livin' on leftovers. This is a good thing! In our house we love leftovers. And Thanksgiving leftovers are the best ever!

This year I threw in a new side dish. To my amazement it was a tremendous success! See, my family (with me leading the pack) is adamant that Thanksgiving dinner is all about tradition. We must have a turkey; there must be dressing (made the same way my mother made it and don't even think about messing with the recipe); there must be mounds of mashed potatoes; and there must be copious amounts of gravy! In our family gravy is a beverage. In the last few years we've added an awesome smoked turkey, compliments of David Miller (Werner Meats), however there still has to be a regular turkey as well. In addition to all of the above we also have homemade noodles, cranberry sauce (that's another post), rolls & butter, and appetizers (oh yeah, yet another post). I figured that we might need a vegetable thrown in there other than a relish tray. So I kept my eyes open for something that might be interesting.

And I found it on Steamy Kitchen's blog. Remember how I said in my cauliflower soup post that I pretty much loathe cooked cauliflower? (Deborah, you're going to love this.) I found out I love roasted cauliflower! Really!!! 

Let me backtrack a bit. When I made the cauliflower soup I had a half head of cauliflower left. What was I going to do with it? Then lo and behold here comes Jaden from Steamy Kitchen with a post on roasted cauliflower. I saw garlic. I saw bacon. What's not to like? Okay, I can try this.

I made it as a side dish for dinner that night and Bob and I ate every last bite! We totally scarfed it down! Who would'a thought I like cooked cauliflower? But, I will insist that we say "roasted" rather than cooked. I do think that roasting transforms it into a whole different being. The cauliflower turns a gorgeous golden color and the taste is out of this world. The garlic roasts to a sweet nutty deliciousness and the bacon crisps up and gets all crunchy and incredible. This dish simply put, rocks!

So I slid the roasted cauliflower into the Thanksgiving line up and it was a total hit! Almost all of it was gone and everyone wanted some to take home with their leftovers.

I think I have found a new favorite vegetable. And I do believe we have a new "must" for the Thanksgiving dinner table.

Thanks, Jaden!

Roasted Cauliflower Recipe with Bacon and Garlic
Servings: 4 Prep Time: 5 Cook Time: 20


1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
6 cloves garlic, halved
3 strips bacon, cut into bite sized pieces
2 teaspoons olive oil
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 375F. On a baking sheet, toss together the cauliflower, garlic slices, bacon and olive oil. Roast for 20 minutes until bacon is crisp and cauliflower is cooked through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Last Friday night I had dinner with two very handsome men. Aren’t I the lucky one! Bob, our friend Donald and I went to check out a new restaurant in Upper Arlington, Cibo. Carla Piolata (one of the owners of the now closed Davinci’s) and her sister-in-law Carrie Ciotola opened Cibo on October 7, 2010. Often they have live music, mostly jazz. As you all know there is a certain jazz singer here in Columbus that is near and dear to our hearts. And guess what … Dwight Lenox just happened to be playing there on Friday. Oh, this just keeps getting better and better!

When we walked in the door, I immediately loved the ambiance. There is a lovely fireplace that greeted us with the warmth from the fire. They have a full service bar with a wine list that according to Bob and Donald had some very good Italian wines. There are two rooms and we were seated in the “music” room so we could listen to Dwight when he began to play.

The restaurant seats about 100 people and is decorated in warm tones. The tablecloths are black and each table has a candle surrounded by coffee beans and a beautiful vase of fresh flowers, making it all feel quite cozy.

We started off with a few appetizers since the three of us were hungry enough to begin gnawing on the tablecloth if we didn’t get something soon. We munched on the breadsticks until they arrived. I was quite smitten with the breadsticks.

Here’s the thing … I can’t show you a picture of our appetizers because by the time I remembered I had my camera and that I wanted to take pictures … um, they were gone. Darn those boys, anyway. I really wanted to show you what we had. The arancini was made with saffron risotto and had a center of fresh mozzarella and prosciutto. The outside was crispy and the inside was creamy. The sauce was a perfect compliment. Oh, I could have eaten those all night. They truly were the best I have ever tasted … the best ever! Our other appetizer was the calamari. Those tasty little squids were absolutely perfectly cooked. The sauce that accompanied them had a little kick to it. We definitely made great choices!

Donald had the bucatini all ‘Amatriciana. Bucatini is a long hollow spaghetti-like pasta. The sauce is tomato with pancetta and usually chili or chili flakes. I tasted the dish and I’m thinking this might be what I get next time. It was really delicious.

Bob’s entrĂ©e was the pan roasted free range chicken. The skin was a gorgeous brown and crispy. The meat was moist and succulent. The chicken was finished with a caramelized garlic sauce that I found to be exceptional. As in, I could drink this stuff with a straw! The dish included asparagus and butternut squash puree with rosemary. The squash puree totally worked for me. It was scrumptious.

My dinner was divine. I had the spaghetti carbonara. Cibo’s carbonara sauce is made with egg and no cream. According to Carla, no one in Italy would consider making carbonara with cream. The pancetta was crispy crunchy and oh so good. I fell in love with this dish. (I did share a bit of it with Bob so that I could pirate some of his squash. Hey, I’m not entirely unreasonable.) I would so order this again in a heartbeat. It was awesome.

We moved on to dessert. Each of us ordered something different and we tasted all around.

Donald’s choice was the lemon mascarpone cheesecake with blackberry compote and basil syrup. Not only was the presentation gorgeous but the taste was divine. This was everything a cheesecake should be; creamy, rich, light and decadent.

Bob chose the triple chocolate torte. I don’t have the particulars on this. I remember that it had three different chocolate layers with three different kinds of liqueur. This is was I distinctly remember; when I put a small bite of the torte on my tongue and let it melt, it was almost like the chocolate wrapped itself around me and each flavor became singular and yet combined all at the same time. Whoa … it totally was a sensual experience. I kid you not.

My dessert was the bonet ala piedmontese. This is a baked custard-like piece of heaven made with espresso, cinnamon and chocolate sitting atop a amaretti cookie crust with caramel sauce. I know. I know.
And when I didn’t think it could get any better, Dwight Lenox and the trio began playing. Dwight’s voice never fails to thrill me. Simply no one sings jazz better than Dwight. And then, Lee Savory joined him on the flugel horn. Oh my goodness. Then to my delight, who should walk in but Carl Sally, toting his sax! The music was unbelievable!!!

I also had the pleasure of meeting Chef John Beck. What a charmer! His use of ingredients and execution of Italian specialties is a true thing of beauty. And he told me he makes the desserts himself. I was so impressed. Chef Beck previously was in the kitchens at Abbracci, RJ Snappers, Capital Club and Hyde Park. He is most definitely talented.

I do want to note that Carla makes the gnocchi herself. I didn’t have the opportunity to taste them this trip but I plan to soon.

A trip to Cibo needs to be given high priority on your list of restaurant visits. I suggest you call for reservations because the place was hopping! Let them know you read about them here at Dishing-it-Up Columbus!

One more thing; don’t forget to finish your dinner off with a glass of Sambuca (with three espresso beans). Carla will totally appreciate it and you will definitely be glad you did!

4740 Reed Road
Upper Arlington, OH 43220
Mon – Thur: 5-10pm
Fri & Sat: 5-11pm
Closed Sunday

Cibo on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 15, 2010

Dine Originals Week November 8-14, 2010 – Shoku

Well, Dine Originals Week is over and I only made it to one restaurant. I am absolutely ashamed of myself! But it just wasn’t happening. And I’m pretty sure you’ll forgive me. Especially when I tell you about the one that I did go to! It was my first time ever to Shoku ... and it rocked my world!

I was pretty certain that I was only going to make it to one place this round, so I wanted it to be somewhere I hadn’t been to before. My dining buddy Jane, and I checked out the lunch offerings and decided upon Shoku. They were offering 3 different lunches for $10 each. So off we went.

I have seen Shoku often when Bob and I go to Stauff’s (in Grandview) for coffee. And I have to tell you that while I knew where it was, I hadn’t really heard much about it. I am smitten! We walked in and I immediately loved the ambiance. It is modern but had a real “home” feel to it. We sat down and right away we were offered beverages. We both ordered hot tea. The green tea arrived piping hot and was absolutely delicious!

While we were perusing our lunch choices, I placed an order of the Tempura Green Beans for us to share. They were so good! I’ve had fried green beans before, but these were on a whole different level. The tempura batter was so light and crispy. The dipping sauce was just perfect. Yeah, these little guys were addicting. We finished off that platter before we knew it. We were left wanting more. However, our lunch was on its way and we were excited about that.

Jane chose the Tempura Shrimp Wrap. This was described as “Shrimp tempura rolled with rice and vegetables in spinach tortilla served with candied sweet potatoes and mixed vegetables”. It was gorgeous. The presentation was just beautiful. The candied sweet potato cubes were wonderful. There was a crunchy outside with a lovely sweetness, and inside was the creamy goodness of a good sweet potato. The vegetables consisted of broccoli and carrot strips and were topped with a few of the tempura green beans. The wrap was really good, too. The tempura shrimp was crunchy and it was accompanied by rice and strips of carrots and others veggies. The dipping sauce finished with just enough heat. This was a great dish.

However, the show stopper was my Shoku Salad. The description was, “A mixture of iceberg lettuce and spring mix; comes with a vegetable eggroll, Japanese noodles and an egg with choice of beef skewer, chicken skewer or grilled shrimp skewer. Served with carrot miso dressing”. The plate was stunning. It was magnificent. The riot of color on the plate just made me smile. The salad had the promised mix of iceberg and spring greens topped with strips of carrot, and white and purple cabbage. It was accompanied by a hardboiled egg. The eggroll had a sweet chili sauce for dipping and it was very tasty. I chose to go with the beef skewer because it seems I usually gravitate to shrimp and I wanted something different. Boy, am I glad I did. The beef was so tender and so moist and so yummy! I love noodles of any kind, and the little dish of noodles was no exception. What made this salad such a standout was the carrot and miso dressing. I am generally so-so about miso. But this dressing? Well, this dressing I could just drink, it was so good! I ended up pouring it on the noodles and dipping my beef into it. The gal serving us told me, “Mama makes it herself”. She inclined her head to a woman sitting at a back table wearing an apron and having her own lunch. I was just blown away by this dressing!

What a great experience! I can’t wait to return to Shoku. I saw quite a few other items on the menu that I’d really like to try. Needless to say, Jane and I commented that we think we’ve found yet another “favorite restaurant”!

1312 Grandview Ave
Grandview, OH

Shoku on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 1, 2010

Ree's Cauliflower Soup


Here's the deal...I cannot stand cooked cauliflower. I love it raw. But when cauliflower is cooked, it becomes a whole different animal. And it stinks. So no way, no how, am I cooking cauliflower in this house.

Okay having said that, I can now admit to a few deep dark secrets that I have kept hidden behind closed doors ...

First, I love to shop at Aldi's. If you hit it right you can get some really awesome produce at prices that will just have you dancing in the aisles. A few weeks ago I found the biggest, fattest head of cauliflower that I simply could not walk away from. I'm not even going to tell you what I paid for it because it was obscenely inexpensive (and I can't actually remember what is was because my memory has gone to hell). Yep, Aldi's is one of my guilty pleasures.

Second, I cooked it.

I know, I know! But honestly, on a technicality I didn't really cook it. I used it to make soup. And why I even did that, I cannot tell you. Except to say that I was reading and she made her mother's cauliflower soup sound so good that I craved it. And after all, I had that honkin' big head of cauliflower in my fridge. There's only so much raw cauliflower that a girl's husband will let her eat!

So I followed Ree's incredibly easy step-by-step instructions and made the soup. Then I swooned. Then Bob swooned. I gave some to Donald & Kathy and I think they swooned. Even if they didn't, let's pretend they did. They said they liked it ... a lot. So I'm thinkin' they swooned. (That's just how my mind works.)

I'm going to give you the original recipe and the link to Ree's blog page because her photographs are incredible. In fact, the above photograph is hers, not mine. Why mess with perfection? (Also, the fact is we ate ours before I could take a picture of it.) I did adjust mine to make it Weight Watcher friendly. I'm trying, I'm trying.

Cauliflower Soup


• 1 stick butter, divided
• ½ whole onion, finely diced
• 1 whole carrot finely diced
• 1 stalk celery, finely diced
• 1 whole (to 2 whole) cauliflower heads (roughly chopped)
• 2 Tablespoons fresh or dried parsley (chopped)
• 2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth or stock
• 6 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
• 2 cups whole milk
• 1 cup half-and-half
• 2 teaspoons to 4 Teaspoons salt, to taste
• 1 cup (heaping) sour cream, room temperature

Preparation Instructions

In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, melt 4 tablespoons butter. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes, or until it starts to turn brown.

Add the carrots and celery and cook an additional couple of minutes. Add cauliflower and parsley and stir to combine.

Cover and cook over very low heat for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, pour in chicken stock or broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer.

In a medium saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons butter. Mix the flour with the milk and whisk to combine. Add flour-milk mixture slowly to the butter, whisking constantly.

Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup half-and-half. Add mixture to the simmering soup. Allow to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Check seasoning and add more salt or pepper if necessary.

Just before serving, place the sour cream in a serving bowl or soup tureen. Add two to three ladles of hot soup into the tureen and stir to combine with the sour cream. Pour in remaining soup and stir.

Serve immediately. Then, SWOON!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Classic Meatloaf

I was craving comfort food. It had been a long week and I just wanted something so good to eat that it would transport me to a happy place (kind of like when I’m at IHOP). So I started combing my files for that special dish.

Bingo! Meatloaf! Of course! And here was one that promised:

“This is the meat loaf to make when you long for a nostalgic taste of the foods of your childhood. It’s moist, and the combination of beef, veal and pork gives it a rich, meaty flavor. It’s equally good served warm from the oven or cold in sandwiches the next day.”

It was all that and more. If only I’d had worn a smart dress, frilly apron and a single strand of pearls I think Bob might have truly believed he was Ward Cleaver. It was so very tasty. And as promised, it was just as good cold as it was hot. Oh my, be still my beating heart. A cold meatloaf sandwich slathered with ballpark mustard (the “good” mustard). It just doesn’t get much better than that!

If you are experiencing that gray, dull weather that we call Columbus, OH you might want to pull this one out of your bag of tricks. And if you really want to go all out, you could even make some good ole mac ‘n cheese to go along with it. Now that’s just crazy nostalgic! But come to think of it, I recently found a killer easy mac ’n cheese that would be perfect!

Food Now-8 servings


2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 eggs
2/3 cup unseasoned dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 lb. ground beef chuck
1/4 lb. ground veal
1/4 lb. ground pork


1/3 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Heat oil in medium skillet over medium heat until hot. Add onion; cook 5 minutes or until softened, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds or until fragrant. Place in large bowl; cool to room temperature.

2. Whisk eggs into onion mixture. Stir in bread crumbs, parsley, milk, 2 tablespoons mustard, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce, thyme, salt and pepper. Add ground beef, ground veal and ground pork; mix together by hand or with large fork until evenly blended. Press into 9x5-inch loaf pan or place freeform loaf in shallow baking pan. To prevent glaze from dripping off pan during baking, mound meat in center with sloping sides.

3. In small bowl, stir together all glaze ingredients. Brush 1/4 cup of the glaze over top of loaf. Bake 45 minutes; remove pan from oven. Brush top of loaf with remaining 1/4 cup glaze. Bake an additional 15 to 20 minutes or until meat loaf is firm and juices run clear. Loosely cover with foil; let stand 15 minutes before slicing.

PER SERVING: 330 calories, 18.5 g total fat (6.5 g saturated fat), 24.5 g protein, 16 g carbohydrate, 125 mg cholesterol, 585 mg sodium, 1 g fiber

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dine Original's Week - November 8 - 14!

It's time to gear up for the Dine Original's Week!!! I just checked out the participating restaurant menus and I am in an absolute dither. How can I possibly choose just a few to visit??? So many of them sound so absolutely incredible! What a chance to try new places, and what a chance to visit old favorites!

Here is their website:
Check it out for yourselves! Then let me know what you think!!!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Experience Columbus Days! October 8-11, 2010


This is such a great four days in Columbus that I definitely do not want any of you to miss it. Seems like the last several posts have been about events. But there is so much happening that I just have to tell you all!!!

"Now in its seventh year, Experience Columbus Days, October 8-11, has grown to include discounts to 24 area attractions and 50 area restaurants. The program was created by Experience Columbus to make the capital city the place to be during Columbus Day Weekend through offering great incentives.

Experience Columbus has again partnered with area attractions and Dine Originals Columbus, to offer visitors and residents alike 50% off admission to top area attractions and 25% off food bills to unique Columbus eateries.

To receive the discounts, visit between now and October 11 to download two flyers, one for attractions and the other for Dine Originals Columbus restaurants. Upon arrival at a participating attraction or restaurant, simply show a printed flyer or display it on a mobile device to receive:

· 50% off admission when you present the attractions flyer at 24 of the city’s best attractions including perennial favorites such as the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, the Wilds, COSI and the Columbus Italian Festival as well as new participants like Columbus Food Adventures, SegAway Tours of Columbus and more.

· 25% off the total food bill (excluding beverages) for up to two people, when you present the restaurant flyer at all 50 Dine Originals Columbus restaurants, including 11 new members such as Barrio Tapas Lounge, Black Olive, Moshi Sushi, Spinelli’s Deli, Skillet and others.

“Now in its seventh year, the goal of Experience Columbus Days is to get people out to explore Ohio’s capital city and expose them to all that makes Columbus unique,” said Paul Astleford, president and CEO of Experience Columbus. “This program would not be successful without the support from our partners at area attractions and restaurants. They truly see the value of tourism and creating ambassadors locally, which is what Experience Columbus Days is all about.”

In 2009, with only social media, viral marketing and word of mouth efforts used to promote the program, more than 4,300 flyers were redeemed at area attractions and more than 860 were redeemed at Dine Originals Columbus restaurants.

Visitors from 30 states as well as Canada, Puerto Rico and Switzerland took advantage of the program’s discounts.

For complete details, a full list of participating attractions and restaurants and to print off the flyers, visit"
Excuse me while I go download...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Taste of Columbus

This promises to be an amazing event for such a good cause! And a party on the pool deck at the Renaissance, hosted by Latitude 41 is always a great time! Here is a wonderfully fun evening out that will benefit the new Kobacker House. Go ahead ... you deserve a night out!

A Taste of Columbus event to benefit
HomeReach Hospice slated for Sept. 28 at Renaissance

(COLUMBUS) – Six of the best locally owned and operated restaurants are coming together to host the first-ever "A Taste of Columbus" event on the pool deck of the Renaissance Columbus Downtown on Tuesday, Sept. 28, from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. The event will benefit HomeReach Hospice – the largest and most comprehensive not-for-profit hospice program in central Ohio.

Participating restaurants include:
• Barcelona
• Basi Italia
• G. Michael’s
• Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
• Latitude 41
• The Refectory

“We are so grateful that these restaurants and the Renaissance have all stepped up to make this evening possible. All proceeds will be used toward the construction of a new Kobacker House, scheduled for opening in late 2011,” said Karen Morrison, president of the OhioHealth Foundation.

Tickets are $50 per person and can be purchased exclusively online at Each restaurant will have a sampling station, there will be a silent auction featuring travel and dining opportunities and live music by Victor Zancudo. Dress for the evening is cocktail/business attire.

The Kobacker House is a free-standing inpatient hospice facility that was created to offer a home-like setting for hospice patients requiring 24-hour medical supervision. The new Kobacker House will offer 24 patient beds – more than double the capacity of the current house.

The Renaissance Columbus Downtown Hotel approached OhioHealth HomeReach Hospice to partner on the event to raise much-needed dollars for the facility. Additionally, Chef Dave Maclennan of Latitude 41 reached out to the chefs of the other participating restaurants to round out the evening.

“You’d be hard-pressed to find someone in central Ohio who hasn’t been positively impacted by HomeReach Hospice; we applaud their mission of providing quality end-of-life care for central Ohioans,” said Geri Lombard, general manager of The Renaissance. “We are committed to being an excellent community partner, and we have the space and setting on our beautiful roof-top pool deck to create a wonderful event for OhioHealth HomeReach Hospice. “

About HomeReach Hospice
HomeReach Hospice is the largest and most comprehensive not-for-profit hospice program in central Ohio. It is part of the OhioHealth health system.

A team of specially trained hospice caregivers -- physicians, nurses, social workers, therapists, chaplains, aides and volunteers -- are dedicated to providing the highest quality end-of-life care to patients and grief support to their families. Services offered by HomeReach Hospice, which is supported by the OhioHealth Foundation, include 24-hour inpatient care at Kobacker House (the first free-standing inpatient hospice care facility in central Ohio), as well as extensive services and support for patients who are able to remain at home; specialized therapies, including massage, art and animal therapy; in-home visits from physicians; family support services; and grief support programs for larger numbers of people, including school children who have lost family members, coworkers or friends.

About Renaissance Hotels & Resorts
Renaissance Hotels & Resorts is an upscale modern hotel collection with more than 140unique properties in 28 countries -- from historic icons to ultra-modern masterpieces -- that speaks to passionate travelers in search of authentic local experiences. Whether a trip is for business or pleasure, Renaissance believes there's always something wonderfully new to be found.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Drunken Fruit Skewers

Labor Day weekend has come and gone. (Heads up ladies; no white shoes! Is that even a “rule” anymore?) Anyway, back to what I was saying before I interrupted myself. The cookouts, bbq’s and feasts of gluttony have come and gone with the holiday. Thank goodness! My hips just couldn’t take anymore!

But the memory of the appetizer that we took to both cookouts we attended lingers. It was an idea that was resurrected by one of my favorite blogs … which they got from another blog! Oh, don’t you just love the food blogosphere? I sure do! The delight I am speaking of is (drum roll please) “Drunken Fruit Skewers”.

Now anybody that knows us can tell you that my dear husband has a penchant for liquoring up just about everything he gets his hands on (don’t go there, my friends). He was in the kitchen mixing up the liquid in which we would macerate the fruit and was he a scientist in all his glory! Remember the rocket scientist story? That’s my Bob! This was his kind of recipe. Actually, there isn’t even a “recipe”.

We purchased a fresh pineapple, kiwis, plums, strawberries and honeydew. Bob concocted the most delicious mixture of Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, and Cointreau. He added just a wee bit of Splenda (hey! We’re watching our figures over here!) added cinnamon sticks and whole cloves.

The Kitchn blog tells us to “Simply cut your fruit into bite-sized pieces, put them in a container, and cover with the liquor of your choice. Let this sit for anywhere from a few hours to overnight.” However, we found that 3 hours for the pineapple, honeydew and plums was perfect. The strawberries and kiwi were soaked only for about an hour. The liquor bleaches the fruit, and the skewers are so much prettier when the colors are vibrant. We threaded the fruit onto wooden skewers that had been soaked in water, and Bob tossed them on the grill. Okay, he very gently arranged them in a perfect formation to be grilled to absolute beauty.

And boy-howdy were those things good!!! They packed a punch, too.

Try these at your next party. You will no doubt be the host/hostess with the mostest. Oh good Lord … even I can’t believe I just said that!

Friday, September 3, 2010

WaterFire and Dwight Lenox & the Lenox Avenue Jazz & Dance Band

Are you looking for something fun to do on a Friday night? I have a suggestion for you!

Last week we attended “WaterFire Columbus”. What fun! And to make the evening even better, the music was provided by our very dear friend and favorite jazz singer and his band! Why yes, that indeed would be none other than “Dwight Lenox and the Lenox Avenue Express Jazz & Dance Band”! What an incredible evening!

First let me tell you about WaterFire in case you aren’t familiar with it. Here is an excerpt from their webpage:

WaterFire Columbus

WaterFire opens all of our senses to our surroundings; it allows viewers to savor the artwork's surprises, view the city's landscape and mingle with fellow citizens.

WaterFire Columbus is becoming one of the most exciting art exhibits in Central Ohio. The magnificent array of bonfires was first established on the three rivers of downtown Providence, Rhode Island in 1997. In downtown Columbus the flames reflect on the waters of the Scioto River. Audience members gather for an evening of natural art, music and activity featuring this remarkable display on the east side of COSI in front of Genoa Park.

WaterFire Columbus has created seven events for the 2010 Burn Season partnering with different performing arts organizations. The board's goal is to expand relationships with additional performing arts groups in Central Ohio.

The event has expanded from 19 braziers in 2008 to 37 for 2010 Burn Season. WaterFire also gives viewers the opportunity to purchase tables where individuals have the choice of sitting down and enjoying dinner along the river during select events.

We began our evening by setting up our chairs and spreading a blanket over the ground in front of them. There were vendors selling food and we brought some of our own. When I spoke with the gentleman at Experience Columbus, he advised me that they asked that drinks be purchased there. Wine, beer, water and lemonade were available. We made our selections and returned to our spot. There we laid out a cheese plate & crackers and fruit & dip that we'd brought along to compliment our purchases. We then proceeded to feast!

Just about the time we finished noshing, the music began. Oh how we love to hear Dwight and his band! As the sun began to dip behind the COSI building and the sky turned golden, Dwight’s luscious baritone wrapped itself around us and seeped into our bones. The strains of the instruments, individually and collectively, danced as one melody led into the next. We lost ourselves in the glorious sound that is uniquely Dwight.

As dusk settled, the band took an intermission and Dwight was taken out on the boat to light the first of the fires. How thrilling! What a vision the boat, the flames, and the figures in the boat made against the dwindling light of the night sky.

It really was amazing to see those fires burning on the Scioto River! And then there was the wonderful smell of a wood fire, while the heat from the flames could be felt on the lower levels of the amphitheater.

The boat returned Dwight to dry land and the music began once more, with what sounded to me like a renewed sense of soul and character. There was spontaneous dancing in front of the stage. We were even fortunate enough to have a young couple entertain us with what could only be the result of some serious ballroom dance lessons! They were charming. And underneath the music, you could hear the chatter and laughter of a great party.

What an evening! Dwight played well past the 10:00pm mark. I believe he and the band were having as much fun as we were!

There are only three more WaterFire events taking place this year. I’m sure the entertainment will be lovely. But for me, Dwight & the Lenox Avenue Express made a special evening even more spectacular! I so hope they do it again next year. If so, stop by front and center to say hello to us … because that is exactly where we will be!

Genoa Park
303 W Broad Street
Columbus, OH

2010 WaterFire Burn Schedule:

•Friday, September 3rd: In partnership with Music in the Air, performance by BalletMet Columbus
•Friday, September 17: In partnership with Riverfront Art Festival, performance by Opera Columbus
•Saturday, September 18th: In partnership with Riverfront Art Festival, performance by Ladies of Longford

Photos courtesy of Dwight Lenox

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Tri-Colore Orzo - Giada De Laurentiis

I really, really like Giada. I mean, who doesn’t like Giada? I know my husband and all the male friends we have like Giada. Why, some of them even actually know that she’s a chef.

I have yet to make a Giada recipe that I don’t like. So when I saw this one, I just knew I had another home run on my hands. And in addition to that, it uses a cheese I have been wanting to try; ricotta salata. So I got all of the ingredients and was good to go.

First you cook the orzo. After draining it, the olive oil is mixed in well. Spread it out on a cookie sheet. When it is cooled, put it in a bowl and add salt and pepper.

Add dried cherries.

Add ricotta salata.

Add arugula and basil.

Next is fresh squeezed lemon juice. (no seeds, please)

Mmmm ... toasted pine nuts.

Then mix it all up and serve.

Here is what I learned:

First I learned that I don't care much for ricotta salata. It is pretty bland and a bit chalky. It has the same texture as feta, with a milder taste. But I'm not a huge fan of feta either. So no big surprise there.

Second, the lemon juice wasn't enough of a dressing.

Third, the cherries and arugula were perfect together. The sweetness of the cherries tasted great against the spiciness of the arugula. And the basil was a burst of flavor!

Fourth, it needed more pine nuts. But doesn't every dish need more pine nuts?

The final verdict was that my expectations were way too high. The dish definitely did not live up to them. However, the next night I reworked the leftovers. I picked out all of the ricotta salata and cubed up provolone and added that to the orzo. I thought the creamy mildness of the provolone suited the dish better. I added more chopped basil; not a whole lot, just a few more leaves. Next I threw in additional toasted pine nuts and cherries. I mixed it all together and it was looking good. I tasted it and it still needed something.

I went refrigerator shopping and was waiting for inspiration to hit. And it did! I had a bit of balsamic vinaigrette that Bob had made for a salad earlier in the week. That my friends is exactly what that orzo needed! I shook it up and drizzled it over the orzo, mixed it up real good, tasted it, and sat down because my knees were weak. Now we're talkin'!

I'm giving you the recipe as Giada wrote it. You can try it without changing a thing. Please let me say that these are just my opinions (and Bob's). Many of you might love feta and also might find you really like the ricotta salata.

The thing about this recipe is that I think you can be really flexible with it and have some fun. Next time I make it I might change up some of the ingredients and maybe use a flavored vinegar. Another option might be to use a different combination of dried fruits and greens. Try other cheeses. I think I'd stick with the orzo as the base, though. That seemed totally right.

Make it and let me know what you think! Won't be the first time I've been wrong. But whatever you do, do not tell Bob I just said that!

Tri-Colore Orzo
Giada De Laurentiis-

Prep Time: 15 min
Inactive Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 10 min
Serves: 4 to 6 servings

• 1 pound orzo pasta
• 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1/4 cup
• 2 cups fresh arugula (about 3 ounces)
• 3/4 cup crumbled ricotta salata cheese (or feta cheese)
• 1/2 cup dried cherries
• 12 fresh basil leaves, torn
• 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
• 3 tablespoons lemon juice
• 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta and put the pasta on a large cookie sheet. Drizzle the pasta with 3 tablespoons olive oil, toss, spread out, and set aside to cool.
Once the orzo is cool, transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and toss gently to combine. Serve.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Gahanna Community Wellness Festival

Today Bob and I participated in a 'Community Wellness Festival' at Schoedinger in Gahanna. A “wellness” festival at a funeral home, you say? Why yes. I believe it was a gesture of reaching out to the community and offering an afternoon of family fun along with some good information about services offered in the Gahanna area.

We met a lot of really cool people. It was a great opportunity for us to talk with others who care about our town and want to touch others’ lives. And of course, we brought food with us to share! Always, there is food!

Elizabeth Gerhard (our friend and Schoedinger manager) kicked off the event with a welcome to all,

and the “Legal Limit Quartet” gave a lovely rendition of the National Anthem while the flag was raised.

There were presentations that were interesting and quite informative. Dr. Marc Hollander spoke about how dental care affects just about every part of us. Cathy Philips, the director of the Ohio Herb Education Center spoke about healing herbs and tea “thyme” (Dianne Williams baked some absolutely delicious banana nut muffins to go with the tea!), and Michael Schoedinger talked about “green burials”.

Beecher Chiropractic & Wellness Center was there and were had info and testing on laser allergy treatments. They offer some really interesting services and are definitely worth taking a look at if you’re not familiar with them!

We met folks from Celebrate Recovery, which is a “Christ-Centered Recovery Program” for “healing life’s hurts habits and hang-ups”. Meetings are Thursdays at 7pm at Shepherd Church of the Nazarene.

Smoothie King was there with some yummy samples and information on all the products they have. YMCA had representatives at the event and Bernie Decicco (YMCA) was making healthy snow cones with fruit juices. I had a mango concoction and Bob had one made with grape juice. Just delicious! Schoedinger provided grilled hot dogs that were done just the way I like them! They were served on whole grain buns which bumped up the “healthy” factor. Who knew they made whole grain hot dog buns?

And then there was Dishing-it-Up! Columbus. You might have heard of them? Oh yeah, we were totally into it! Keeping with the healthy (okay, not totally if you think about all the butter I used) and herbal theme (Gahanna = herbs), I made several different kinds of herb butter. Bob and I had a set up that really was quite lovely. Bob brought pots of flowers and our own potted herbs to decorate. We had vases of cut herbs including basil, rosemary, Italian parsley and chives.

A produce basket almost overflowed with fresh vegetables that Bob used to make the most wonderful bruschetta. No kidding; the stuff was incredible. It was full of fresh tomatoes, basil, garlic, chives, Italian parsley, shredded cheeses, and then dressed with balsamic vinaigrette. This morning before we left, the two of us had made three loaves of crostini; toasted bread that was rubbed with a garlic clove as soon as it came out of the oven.

When he worked his magic with the tomatoes and garlic, etc and topped a crostini with a heaping spoonful of the gorgeous mixture, I fell in love with him all over again. Oh be still my beating heart. *sigh* One bite of this and your taste buds began to sing. Really! It was that good. I think it was the balsamic vinegar that just put it over the top. I can see a lot of this bruschetta in our future. A lot!

This painted man sure liked Bob's bruschetta!!!

I started out with a pretty standard herb butter that contained basil and chives. We had some cracker sticks for sampling the butter. To get an even better taste of herbs' abilities to communicate with other fresh ingredients, I made simple cucumber sandwiches. Now I ask you, how long has it been since you’ve had a cucumber sandwich? They were pretty darn good. But what was really fun was when I started experimenting!

I had a slab of butter that I mixed with some basil. It cried out for something more! I just happened to have a container of sundried tomatoes with me. I picked out some nice juicy ones and pressed them between layers of paper towels to remove as much of the oil as I could. We had chosen to use Plugra (European style butter with 82% butterfat, compared with 80% butterfat in American butters), so I figured we really didn’t need the extra oil from the tomatoes. I finely diced the tomatoes and added a couple of cloves of garlic for good measure, because you can never have too much garlic. A pinch of salt and I called it good. I folded, I mixed and I stirred. Then the moment of truth … can I just say that this stuff rocked? Oh my. I have a new love in my life. And my waist and thighs ain’t gonna be happy about it! A cucumber sandwich with this butter climbed to a new level. (As far as cucumber sandwiches go, okay?) My mind was reeling. What if …? Oh dear. What if I were to make a bacon sandwich with this? Oh the possibilities!!! I couldn’t take it. I had to sit down.

So there you have it. We sliced, we diced, we chopped and we slathered. We fed the masses! Well, I might be going just a bit overboard.

We sure did have fun, though!


Yikes! I cannot believe I forgot to put the recipe for the bruschetta on here! Please forgive me! If you don't now, you will after you make this recipe!

Bob's Bruschetta
adapted from recipe from "Culinary Herb Guide"
Serves 4 (supposedly ... ha!)


2 medium to large tomatoes, diced
3 large cloves garlic, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
8 slices Italian bread, cut on the bias about 1" thick
4 Tablespoons grated Italian cheese blend (we used Sargento's)


Whisk together vinegar, salt, pepper, and oil.

Combine tomatoes, chopped garlic, basil, and chives. Add to vinegar mixture. Let sit at room temperature.

Toast the bread. This can be done either in the toaster (if it's got really wide slots) or under the broiler (if using this method watch closely so it does not burn.)

When the bread is toasted rub each piece, on one side, with the whole garlic pieces.

Mix grated cheese into the tomato mixture. Top each piece of bread with bruschetta mixture.

Serve immediately.

Accept praise and accolades from family and friends! Take appropriate bows.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hot Summer, Cool Salads

When it is so stinkin' hot out that you can't even think, who wants to cook dinner? Before we left for vacation that's the way it was. I was shopping and packing and so not wanting to add cooking to that list. But you sure can't go out or order dinner in every night, so I needed to come up with cool alternatives.

One night we had salads. And I'm not just talking your run of the mill mixed lettuce and dressing. No, we were still hungry enough. So I made BIG salads.

Bob loves tuna salad. Me, not so much. So I whipped up a chunky, creamy tuna salad and plated it with mixed greens and radishes, carrots, cucumbers and cheese cubes. He loved it!

For my salad I went Cobb. And since I love iceburg (I know, I know) I loaded that on my plate and topped it with ham and chicken, cheddar and mozzarella, carrots, radishes, cucumbers, onions and sliced hard boiled egg.

They totally and completely hit the spot! YUM!!!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Pecan Praline Mix

Having just come back from vacation , I'm here to tell you it sure is difficult to get back into the swing of things. Especially when you've driven 1400 miles with two children ages 7 and 4! Okay, so they were in the other car. It was still stressful listening to their parents!!! And I won't even get started on the car breaking down when we were all loaded to take off at 8am on a Saturday when we were all cranky because our vacation was ending and we were leaving the ocean behind!

But there are some things I rely on when I'm taking a driving vacation. And the answer to your question of "What things, Jean?" would be snacks. Yes, snacks. And I'm going to share one of my most favorite of them with you. Why? 'Cause I'm just that kind of girl. Always giving and sharing ... hush all of you! This truly is one of the best ever!

Pecan Praline Mix

Mix in 13 x 9 pan. Set aside.
16 oz box Quaker Oat Squares (regular or cinnamon)
2 cups pecans (sometimes I mix in almonds and cashews)

Mix in 8 cup microwave safe bowl:
½ cup light corn syrup
½ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup butter or margarine
Microwave on high for 1 ½ minutes; stir.
Microwave an additional ½ to 1 ½ minutes until boiling.

1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp soda
Mix well (will foam) and immediately pour over mixture in pan.
Bake 1 hour at 250˚, stirring every 20 minutes.
Spread on baking sheet to cool. Break into pieces.

*Note: This is extremely addicting!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Penne Pasta with Sundried Tomatoes, Spinach & Feta

This is one of Bob’s and my favorite dishes. The first night I make it we eat it warm/room temperature. The next night we eat it cold. Sometimes we eat it standing in front of the open refrigerator with a fork in our hands! It seems it has an addictive quality.

The recipe doesn’t really have set amounts of ingredients. It’s very forgiving in that you can adjust what you like or don’t like. We happen to like it all. Go figure.

I do hope you like this dish as much as we do!

Penne Pasta with Sundried Tomatoes, Spinach & Feta

16 oz box of penne pasta
1 bag baby spinach leaves, washed and spun dry – remove stems if you’re anal like me
6 oz crumbled feta cheese (we like the sundried tomato & basil flavor)
Sundried tomatoes (packed in oil), sliced
Chopped garlic – roasted garlic is nice if you have it
Olive oil
Grated parmesan cheese
Toasted pine nuts

The cast of characters. Uh oh … looks like the olive oil and the parmesan cheese didn’t make it to the preview party. I’m sure they’ll catch up with us.

Cook the pasta according to package directions. (I generally use penne pasta, but the store was out of it. So I went with rigatoni. Bob and I both agreed we like the penne better.) Drain pasta and return to the pot.

While the pasta is cooking, grate the parmesan cheese and then toast the pine nuts in a small skillet. Be careful because they toast really fast! Watch them every single second! They’ll turn on you in a heartbeat. Please, learn from my experience.

Add the remaining ingredients, except the grated parmesan cheese and toasted pine nuts, to the pasta in the pot.

Mix well. I eyeball the olive oil. Don’t skimp on it because you want this to have a great mouthfeel. Add enough that it’s easy to mix but doesn’t look overly greasy. And use some of the oil from the tomatoes! That has great flavor!

Dish up a healthy serving and garnish with grated parmesan and toasted pine nuts.

This dish is so easy it’s crazy. And it’s so good it’s sinful! My mouth is watering just writing this. Really! Oh man, now I’m going to have to make this again to silence the craving.

You should whip up a batch too, and tell me what you think!