Something Good in The Kitchen.

Hey friends, hey!

Have you heard about this amazing new spot in Columbus, The Kitchen?

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Love at first sight.

The Kitchen is tucked away in German Village (arguably my favorite area of C-bus.) It was started early in 2013 by two best friends who love to cook and have a good time while doing so. The concept behind The Kitchen is participatory dining (hello! So fun!) You purchase a seat for a specific night/menu and the staff walks you through cooking various parts of the meal. At the end of the night, you get to sit down at a banquet table with 25 new friends and enjoy the meal you all cooked together. They offer private events as well, for anything from a corporate outing to bridal shower. And if you aren’t so much into cooking, you could head over on a Taco Tuesday or Sunday evening dinner, for a more traditional restaurant experience.

My girl Kimmy and I went a few weeks ago as a Christmas/Birthday date. And I’ll admit, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. But I knew we had selected a great menu, so no matter what is was going to be delicious. Here’s what we walked into:

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We were immediately offered a huge spread of appetizers and an array of drinks at the bar. Once everyone arrived, about 25 guests, we went over some general how-to’s of the kitchen and reviewed the menu. Everyone then chose a station/course that they wanted to cook and we all got to work!

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Our new friends for the night…this was Damian’s first onion chopping experience…nailed it!

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After a couple of hours of cooking away, it was finally time to sit down and be served (the staff finishes up all the dishes, plates the courses and serves you.) Here’s our menu and how it all turned out:

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Appetizer:

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Soup (we cooked this course!)

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Main Course:

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And always my personal favorite…dessert:

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Everything was PHENOMENAL and fairly simple to make. The idea at The Kitchen is to cook with friends and have fun. There aren’t a ton of rules or cooking lessons, however all the staff members were more than willing to give us advice when we asked. It really did feel like a big dinner party. I think it’s a great date night or night out with the girls. My only problem now is that I want to go all the time…I haven’t seen a single menu that doesn’t look great!

Be sure to check it out for yourself at thekitchencolumbus.com. I guarantee you’ll enjoy yourself and learn a few things along the way.

 

A Wednesday Post of Randoms.

Happy Hump Day, friends!

I hope your week is going well. I’m enjoying my last day off before I start my new job tomorrow. The excited/nervous feelings have set in full swing. I’m packing my bag and picking out my clothes…it’s really kind of like the first day of school all over again…

Anyway, here in Ohio we are enjoying one of our favorite things…a lovely snow storm in March šŸ˜¦ So I have given myself an unofficial snow day to do with it whatever the heck I want. And I decided to give you all a random update of the past few days (because mini staycations are the bomb.)

Sunday I wore this fun little get up to brunch (where there were Broadway music videos! I would just like it to be known that this is the best idea ever. Way to go, Level Dining Lounge.)

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I’m in a navy blue phase at the moment

I made this for chocolate pomegranate tart for dessert on Monday…omggggg.

Photo from PastryAffair.com

And I made this black bean soup and cilantro lime rice for dinner last night…so good.

Photo from iowagirleats.com

And I finally worked on a little project and took my Christmas wreath off my front door (I mean, it’s only March, give me a break…) Craft day!

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And I’m currently plowing through a miniseries on the Kennedys on Netflix. Snow days really are the best.

How are you today, sweet friend?

The Peppermint Mocha Chronicles: Guest Spot and a Recipe.

Today it is my pleasure to feature a fabulous lady, Heather Gilbert (she obviously draws her awesomeness from her name.) Heather and I are friends from our days at Otterbein and she writes over at bakingbreak. Earlier this season she told me about her new Peppermint Mocha cookies she was planning to try and of course I wanted to hear all about them! I must say, they look incredible. I can’t way to give them a try. Thanks so much for sharing your joy, Heather!

I Ā love Peppermint Mocha season. Just seeing those red cups makes me feel all festive. I agree with Heather, this season is all about joy and few things give me as much joy as baking for friends and family. Who doesnā€™t feel more joyful with Christmas cookies?

So, ā€˜tis the season for sharing sweets with those you care you about. Just this week I had my first red cup of the season and Iā€™m happy to say, I think I was able to make a cookie that matches the magic of the Peppermint Mocha. Youā€™ll be the talk of the cookie exchange with these and I hope this recipe helps you spread a little bit of joy to you and yours.

Ingredients:

2 sticks butter, softened
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp instant espresso
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups flour
1 cup dark chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli 60% cacao chips)
1 cup Peppermint Crunch Andes Mints Baking Chips (I found these at World Market)

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Directions:Ā 

Preheat oven to 350.

Cream butter and sugar together, then add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla.

In a large bowl, whisk together the cocoa, flour, espresso, baking powder and salt.

Add dry ingredients to wet gradually and fold in the chocolate chips and Andes Mints.

Drop tablespoons of dough onto parchment paper lined sheet trays and bake for 12 minutes. Enjoy!

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Halloween Recap and a Recipe.

For some reason I was really into Halloween this year. Which is weird. I mean, I’m not anti-Halloween, it’s just never the first holiday that I worry about celebrating. I went to a costume party for the first time in I don’t even know how long (probably college), I even made fun themed snacks that involved me dying my food green and drawing faces on the cups…

Vanilla pudding…a little mint extract and a little green food coloring. Topped with crushed oreos. Easy Peasy.

But more than anything, I was SOOO excited for my first trick or treat as a homeowner! Sandy tried to ruin it a bit, but it was still a success. I had a lot of kids stop by! I invited some friends over and we ate chili and cider while we passed out candy…it was a great, fall night. Also, the cider I made was suh-weet. So of course…here is the recipe…

5-6 whole cinnamon sticks
1 whole orange, cut into wedges with the peel
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 tsp. whole allspice
3 tsp. whole cloves
1/2 gallon+ apple cider (I bought a gallon and filled my crock pot as full as possible; I added the leftover and continued cooking once we had consumed some)

Throw it all in the crock. Let it cook on low for a few hours (or about 8 like I did…) Your house will smell amazing! And the warm goodness will be like fall in a cup. Make sure you strain it to remove all the spices before you serve. We had rum on the side as well for those who wanted to add it…a little extra warmth is never a bad thing šŸ™‚

I wish you could smell this through your computer…heavenly.

How did you celebrate Halloween?

My New Baking Obsession.

Chocolate No Bake Cookies. I know, they’re pretty simple. But they are SO good. And quick. AndĀ chocolate.

Ok, so here’s my secret. I found this sweet recipe on foodnetwork.comĀ and added my own little twist.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa *DARK CHOCOLATE.Ā I promise. It will change your life.
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup peanuts, chopped in the food processor *note this is a change from the original recipe. I reduced the oatmeal and added peanuts for some extra crunch and flavor.Ā 

Directions

Chop your peanuts up ahead of time and set those aside. Bring to a boil the sugar, cocoa, butter and milk. Boil for approximately 1 minute, stirring throughout. Add in the peanut butter, vanilla, oatmeal and peanuts. Mix well. Drop by the teaspoon on wax paper and allow to harden. Typically, once they are mostly cooled, I’ll pop them in the refrigerator to harden up before I serve them.

And there you have it! So simple and so good. In a few minutes time, you’ll end up with these bad boys…

New Recipe Love: Spinach and Feta Quesadillas.

Yep, you read that right. This recipe is quick, easy and delicious. It’s one of my new favorite finds on Pinterest!

I adapted the original recipe found at Closet Cooking. Here’s what I came up with:

1 handful of fresh spinach, steamed and squeezed (recipe says 1/2 cup…I like to eyeball measurements…)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
1 handful crumbled feta
salt and pepper
Shredded mozzarella cheese
2 corn tortillas
*I left out a few of the ingredients from the original recipe (mostly because I didn’t have them) so I missed a little bit of the greek style, but I still loved them.

Directions:
1. Steam spinach, drain and squeeze excess water.
2. Meanwhile, warm your skillet with a little bit of cooking spray or EVOO.
3. Combine spinach, parsley, feta, salt and pepper in a bowl.
4. Warm each tortilla one at a time in the skillet.
5. Fill one tortilla with a small handful of mozzarella, followed by the spinach/feta mixture. Top with a little more mozzarella and the second tortilla.
6. Cook on both sides until tortillas are browned and cheese is melted.

And the finished product!

“Eat Out of My Own Kitchen” Week in Review.

I did it!

I managed to eat the whole week out of what was already in my refrigerator/freezer/pantry. Here’s a little sample of what IĀ indulgedĀ in:

Lasagna
Chili (made from my mom’s recipe; I make a GIANT batch every fall and keep it in my freezer for the winter. It’s my favorite!)
Tortellini soup adapted from the recipe found at eatliverun.com
This killer parmesanĀ chicken recipe made using chicken fingers
Mashed potatoes (out of the freezer)
Salad (which included the parmesan chicken)

Snacks included almonds, cashews, cheese/crackers, carrots, cucumbers, protein bars

Now I will admit, I was lucky enough to have three lunches provided at work this week (the blessing of event season!) so that does make my meal planning a little easier sometimes. But I also attend classes in the evenings which throws my entire eating schedule out of whack. Seldom do I ever actually sit down and eat an entire meal; so most of the time I’m looking for food I can pack to take with me to work and graze all day long (ask any of my coworkers, I almost always have food sitting on my desk.)

Meal planning and creativity is something I’m constantly trying to work on; I just get bored with the same food all the time and I’m often on a tight schedule. If you haven’t already, check out my friend Sonya’s blog…she’s great at posting new recipes and her meal plans for the week.

Did you try “Eat Out of My Own Kitchen” week? I’d love to hear how it went!

I Declare This Week “Eat Out Of My Own Kitchen” Week.

Why you ask?

Because my freezer looks like this…

And my pantry looks like this…

I have so much random food in this apartment! I’ve been stocking my freezer for months with chili, stew, soup, leftovers…and for some reason I never eat it. But the time has come, my friends, to stop stocking up and start enjoying! So I have declared this week “Eat Out Of My Own Kitchen” week…also known as the week that I give the grocery store a break (except for a few fresh staples as needed.) Each week it seems like I buy more food and avoid what I’ve already got waiting for me.

Already tonight I’ve made lasagna (with leftovers for the next day or so) completely out of ingredients in my kitchen. Ā With a little creativity, I’m confident I will use up some ingredients in my fridge/pantry and eat up some meals from my freezer…at which point I can then enjoy making new recipes to restock šŸ™‚

I’ll try to update later this week on how my mission went. But I’d love to hear from you, what are your meal planning/use-up-random-ingredient-and-leftovers secrets?