27 March 2015

Dishes with Dee: Lemony Spring Pasta

You guys. I did it again. Pasta that only gets one pot, one baking sheet, and a cutting board dirty. A month ago, I told you guys about this pasta that was delicious and easy. Now, its time to tell you about another one.

The other night, my dear friend Aly came over for dinner. We wanted something crisp and refreshing, but still satisfying, so I came up with this spring pasta. A lemon-butter sauce and goat cheese give it a fresh kick. I mean, it tastes like the best parts of Spring, you guys.

Lemony Spring Pasta

Here's what ya need:

1 pint of cherry tomatoes- halved lengthwise
4 c. baby spinach
1 lemon- zested and juiced
1 c. pancetta- diced
4 Tbsp butter
1 lb pasta- I used angel hair
4 oz. goat cheese

And here's what ya do:

Preheat oven to 325 and toss the cherry tomatoes in a little bit of olive oil. Put them on a baking sheet skin-side down and sprinkle with a touch of salt. Roast for about 30 minutes or until they start to look like this:

Then, in a large pot, bring salted, oiled water to a boil and cook the pasta to al dente. Remove from the heat, drain, and immediately rinse in cold water. I always use my hands and toss the pasta around in the colander to ensure a thorough rinse. That way the pasta doesn't stick together.

Return the same pot to the stove. Over medium heat add the pancetta and cook for about 4 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the cherry tomatoes and the butter, swirling the butter to melt it. Once the butter is melted add the lemon juice and continue to cook for about 1 minute.

Remove the pot from the heat and add in the spinach, stirring until it is nicely wilted. Then add back the pasta and toss everything to combine.

Serve onto plates and top with lemon zest, goat cheese, and lots of freshly ground black pepper. I served this pretty close to room temperature. I didn't want it to be too hot that it would melt the goat cheese. Plus, when something has lemon, I feel like it's okay if it didn't just come off the stove. It was refreshing that way.

Serving Suggestion: Pinot Grigio. and Girls on HBO Go with your BFF. And going back for seconds. YOLO.

25 March 2015

Sweet Shops featuring: Ella Jewelry

You know what I have always been super horrible at?
I am, like, the worst you guys.
I am always like: What is in style? What fits my style? What is style?

There was a time when I thought accessories were kind of stupid. What's the point? I would think to myself as my friends discussed watches. (I now know that is because I was so clueless about it). Fast forward a few years and suddenly I realized the importance of a well chosen necklace. It really makes you look so much more put together! SRSLY.

That is why I was thrilled when my dear friend Daniella decided to follow her passion and start her own jewelry company!

The Background

Daniella is one of those friends you always feel lucky to have. She's beautiful, smart, kind, and thoughtful when she speaks. She started making jewelry as an effort to raise money in conjunction with Spin for the Cure, a local breast cancer charity event. Once the event was over, Daniella realized how much she loved making jewelry and so Ella Jewelry was born!

Left to Right: Daniella, Emily, and Sam

The Info

Ella Jewelry is based on the idea that all cultures of the world are beautiful and unique. Daniella pulls different elements from all over the globe together in some very beautiful, eclectic pieces.

When asked how she feels about accessorizing, Daniella explained: "I like to think [my jewelry] defines a style. You can wear a plain tee and jeans, but when you add your Ella, then suddenly its not so plain"

Her inspiration comes from nature in many of her pieces which is, not only beautiful, but also has a spiritual basis behind it. She loves to re-purpose materials found a flea markets and estate sales, and often times will include things she discovers when traveling.  Her jewelry has a great personality and I totally know what she means when she says it can define your style.

Probably my favorite thing about Ella Jewelry is how much Daniella loves to do custom orders. I have had several friends order something specific from her and it is a really personal, intimate process. Designing based on the philosophy that your accessories should reflect who you are, Daniella takes the time to ask questions about you and your style. She'll request pictures or ask you to describe your favorite outfit. She really gets a feel for who you are and then works with you to create a piece that is one of a kind and completely you. Its amazing.

Here are some of what is available in her shop:

How much do you guys love this stuff?! Everything is so cute and that last bracelet is TO. DIE. FOR.

Here are all the places you can get in touch with Ella:

She's an online shop for the time being, but we have our fingers crossed that you'll be seeing her at your local flea markets soon!

24 March 2015

The Grub: Son of a Preacher Man

I spend a lot of time talking about comfort food.
For example:
and here.

Isn't it the best? I know.

So I was very excited when I found out that one of my favorite places, Enoteca Emilia would be opening a new restaurant around the corner from the Italian spot that would focus on Southern style dishes.  And I was even more excited when my friend Alex suggested to go there last week.

The whole place is quaint but still trendy. It is small, but they do a really nice job with the space. Small places have the tendency to feel a little cramped so I was relieved that I wasn't rubbing elbows with the table next to us.

The menu is exactly what I look for in the restaurants I go to. It is simple but still offers enough variety. I just hate it when you have to read through a book like you're at Cheesecake Factory, but also hate it when a menu is too limiting.

(Side note: the wine comes in teeny mason jars. I loved it.)

We started with the Mason Trio. It was great- I appreciated that the "pickles" were okra and carrots. It made this really stand out- and pickled okra is now officially my jam.

I decided to keep in classic and go for the Sundays Best Fried Chicken and Preacher's Mac n Cheese. The chicken was really good. It was super crispy and still very juicy. The batter had a great buttermilk flavor and good salty bite. Was it the best in the city? I can't say yes with the Eagle as competition, but SOPM definitely holds it's own in the category that has restaurants that are not bad company to be in.

The M&C was also really, really delicious. I love a good crispy topping and since it is made with three cheeses, it was gooey and the peppercorn gave it the right kick. I was thrilled to have enough left over to bring home, because it was worth every last calorie as I ate it the next night. Again, this is a city with great mac n cheese, so it is tough to stand out, but I would definitely order it again and I would say it is up there as a must try with places like Nada's Mexican Mac and Cheese, the Eagle's 5 cheese take, and M's twist with short rib and truffle.

Alex got the Bourbon BBQ Meatloaf and it was the definition of comfort food. The sauce was tangy and sweet, but not too sugary. Plus, you really can't do meatloaf wrong when there is bacon in it. Props to that. It was pretty impressive.

Alex even said, "I'll be honest, I'm not a fan of meatloaf. But SOPM made me a believer." (Thumbs up emojis)

This was my only complaint about the night:

That damn street light was blinding! Please, please get some kind of a shade on this window, Margaret Ranalli. P.S. Isn't my friend so pretty!?

Son of a Preacher Man was great. I loved the atmosphere and the food absolutely keeps in line with the quality that we're so used to from Enoteca Emilia. I want to go back for the She Crab Soup and the Shrimp and Grits ASAP.

Have you guys been? What did you think?

23 March 2015

On being CincyDee

Does anyone else kind of stress out about the "About Me" portion of social media? Your "tagline" or "bio" or "info" or "profile"? Isn't it all so awkward?

"Quick! Here's 250 characters. Describe you!"
~*~hell nah~*~

Talking about yourself is just kind of awkward and feels a little vain. Recently, I had a friend say to me "I like your blog, the recipes are good and your writing is funny, but who is CincyDee? You never tell your readers anything real about yourself" So, in that spirit, I came up with a few off beat facts about myself, if you'd like to know who I am.

Here goes:

1. I sing to my dog.

2. I am helpless at putting my shoes away. I take them off everywhere and that is where they live. Once, I lost a pair at a party in college. Lost.

3. My earliest memory is from when I was 3 years old. We had a babysitter and I was sitting on the back steps at my house eating a Crunch bar, and I decided I don't like Crunch bars. It is still true.

4. I don't understand people who don't like tomatoes or mushrooms.

5. For a boost of confidence I believe a person should go somewhere fancy, completely alone and have a drink at the bar.

6. I love the color of my eyes.

7. My nails are never painted. If I have polish on my nails, someone got married or I'm trying to impress someone.

8. I am terrified of haunted houses. I haven't been in one since my high school boyfriend took me to one where I nearly cried. Once, in 5th grade, I faked sick to get out of going to one for a friend's birthday.

9. I love mass transit. Sometimes I have dreams about riding the subway. It makes me feel so much like a part of a community.

10. I think there is little substitute for reading a good book outside on a sunny day.

What is something about you that makes you who you are?

09 March 2015

Dishes with Dee: Bacon Avocado Toast

You know what is pretty amazing? When you can spend, like, $1.57 on dinner and still get to eat something delicious.

As Spring and Summer are just around the corner, that means it is almost festival season. And no, I don't mean Catholic Church festival season. I mean music festival season! Let me just point out to you how good Bunbury's lineup is this year. Plus, I'm super thrilled to be going to Forecastle as well. But let me tell you something, concert season ain't cheap. Girl, you know you have to shell out the cash for these things. But, obviously, it is totally worth it!

Of course, as a result I am trying to pinch a few pennies where I can, which means I'm taking a pretty serious look at my grocery shopping habits and trying not to be so ridiculous with it.

Enter avocado toast.

I posted here about how simple it is for lunch. I like it because you can come up with so many different combinations and really not get tired of it. Thursday night's dinner was made with all things I already had in my fridge, and probably did only cost me around $3.00, if that.

Bacon Avocado Toast

Here's what ya need:
3 slices of gluten free bread (This just happens to be what I had, use whatever you have on hand)
3 slices of bacon (If you want to be a little more heart healthy, use turkey bacon)
1/2 c. cherry tomatoes, sliced
2 tbsp red onion, diced
1 tbsp shredded parmesan cheese.

And here's what ya do:
Cut the avocado in half, peel it, and remove the seed. Mash it all up in a small bowl and add some salt and pepper.
Cook the bacon in a large skillet, drain off grease, and cut each slice into 3 equal pieces
Toast the bread. Spread on avocado, add bacon tomato and onion. Then, top with parmesan cheese and enjoy!

Done and done.

03 March 2015

Dishes with Dee: Venison Chili

Oh my gosh, Spring is so close I can almost feel it. 

I mean, am I the only one that is obsessively checking their weather app every few hours? I'm staring at the ten day forecast like it is going to magically transform before my eyes and be 70 degrees with sunshine and birds chirping.

I even have a playlist of happy songs called "68 and sunny". I NEED Spring. But, we've made it this far, we can make it a few more weeks.

In the meantime, since there is a winter weather alert due to freezing rain, doesn't everyone want to curl up with a nice hot bowl of chili?

I've posted about a super easy slow cooker chili here.
And everyone remembers this post with some different chili options.

Chili is such a great cold weather comfort food, and if you want to eat organic, free range meat, you can't get more organic than actual wild game.

So here's what ya need:
1 lb ground venison
3 cloves of garlic- mined
1 yellow onion- chopped
1 orange bell pepper- seeded and chopped
1 poblano pepper- seeded and chopped
1 28 oz. can of fire roasted dices tomatoes
4-5 roasted red peppers- drained, dried and chopped
1 can of pinto beans- drained and rinsed
1 can of white beans- drained and rinsed
2 c. beef stock
1/2 c. red wine

And here's what ya do:
1. In a large pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat, heat about a teaspoon of oil (venison isn't as greasy as beef, since it is much leaner). Add the venison and cook until is begins to brown through out. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. If grease is excessive, drain some out, but you want the bottom of the pan coated for cooking the rest of the ingredients.

2. Add the garlic and onion to the pot and cook for about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally and scrape up any of the brown bits left behind from the meat. This gives awesome flavor. Then, add the orange and poblano peppers and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Add the undrained can of tomatoes, and the roasted red peppers, turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.

3. Add the venison, both kinds of beans, beef stock and wine. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat slightly and lightly boil until liquid is reduced by about half. Turn heat down to about medium, cover and simmer for 25 minutes.

4. Serve with plenty of shredded cheese and freshly diced onions (if you so desire).

I'm very excited to include brand new printable recipes! Thanks to a reader suggestion, you'll now be able to print a convenient, half page recipe each time I write a Dishes with Dee post. If there are any past recipes you'd like me to do, comment below or on my Facebook Page and I'll make them!

Venison Chili Recipe

26 February 2015

On natural beauty

Let's take a minute to talk about beauty.
This Buzzfeed article came across my feed recently, and honestly it had me pretty angry. 

"Just really, really good make up" the tagline reads. As I was scrolling through the pictures I felt myself feeling more and more annoyed. Most of these women are so much more beautiful without all that makeup on their faces!

Without spending too much time up on my soap box, this article just feeds into the already impossible pressure young girls and women feel to be a certain kind of "beautiful" in today's society. When you do a getty search for natural makeup you end up with this. RIDICULOUS. 

There was once a time in college when I spent hours contouring, shading and reapplying eye liner until it looked just perfect. I would watch makeup tutorials for hours and then inevitably end up feeling defeated because I didn't look like the woman in the video. Now, however, I find as I'm getting older, I really prefer a much more natural look. Among other reasons, I think minimal makeup actually makes you look younger than a full face. The dewy look of a tinted moisturizer, natural blush and subtle liner is just so understated and sophisticated. 

Don't get me wrong, makeup is fun. I love a good lipstick or a smoky eye for a date night or special event, but I believe day to day should be more effortless. I think it is important for women to remember that what makes them different is what makes them beautiful. Whenever I'm feeling down about my looks, I like to tell myself "You were born with a beautiful face" (Try it! It really works!)

Here are some women that are doing natural beauty just perfectly:

Q: Who is your beauty inspiration?
A: All of the cliche classics: Audrey, Grace Kelly, Liz Taylor. They make it effortless.
Q: How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?
A: 20 minutes. Ensemble selection is another 10.

Q: What feature do you love most about yourself?
A: In that picture? My hair!! All gone now :(
Q: What is your most essential beauty product?
A: Good shampoo and conditioner- PUREOLOGY!!

Q: Who is your beauty inspiration?
A: I don't really have one. I just think about color and aesthetics. It takes me usually 10 minutes to get ready.
Q: What feature do you love most about yourself?
A: I would say my ability to create.

Q:What is your most essential beauty product?
A: Deodorant- LAVANILA.
Q: When do you feel the most beautiful?
A: I feel most beautiful when I'm in nature. (All the nature emojis)

Q: Who is your beauty inspiration?
A: I honestly do not have a particular beauty inspiration. I am inspired by those who have a natural look and do not wear a lot of makeup. I am inspired by those who promote healthiness.
Q: When do you feel the most beautiful?
A: Right after I work out.

Q: How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?
A: Uh, like 20 minutes...probably.
Q: What feature do you love most about yourself?
A: My sense of humor...or do you mean physical?

Q: When do you feel the most beautiful?
A: I would say during a workout. I love working out and helping my body. And of course on a Saturday night, all dolled up! :)
Q: What is your most essential beauty product?
A: FC5 daily moisturizer, spf 15 and Chapstick.

What do you guys think? Do you prefer a more made up look or something minimal? Do you have a daily routine? No makeup at all? One product you can't live without?

My aunts and mother:
Left to right: Madeline, Barbara, Michelle, Nancy (my mom).