Alley's Recipe Book
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Not So Sloppy Joes - total time 40 minutes

Oh boy, I am such a messy eater.  My husband can always tell when I've been getting into something sweet because I somehow end up with chocolate on my face.  I really have no idea how it happens, but he always notices!  I swear it's happened when I haven't had anything with chocolate...

So if it happens with a bit of chocolate, you can imagine what happens with something like wings or... heaven help me... sloppy joes.  You don't even want to see the damage afterward.

As a result, I have steered clear of the sloppy joe sandwiches.  The occasional exception needs to be open-faced with fork and 10 napkins in hand.

But what if you could make it less messy?  Why not make it encompass all of the sloppiness?  My husband called these sloppy joe hot pockets... but I would like to think these are of higher quality than a microwaved, processed, pocket of heat.  It really is just sloppy joe made from scratch (although I just ran out of my own canned tomatoes) and just like you would eat a normal sloppy joe, just all wrapped up!  Perfect for lunches and days your short on napkins.  :)

Creamy Salmon Pasta - total time 25 minutes

My husband and I both accepted new jobs back in December.  His requires him to be at work early (and also home early) and mine some times requires late nights.  This difference in work schedules has impacted our life schedules too.  We're no longer waking up at the same time, which means there's an even wider gap between 'bedtimes' than there used to be.  It also means he is home (usually) hours before me at night... waiting for dinner.

Can't blame him... he is usually eating lunch by the time I'm finishing my morning coffee.  That's a long time to wait between meals.

So, the dinner goal is often... the faster the better!  Those 8pm dinners don't work when he is going to bed right after.  

This recipe is perfect for a quick dinner.  And it tastes sooo good too!  Not much of a mess to clean up afterward either (always a winner in my book).  Salmon and a cream sauce go hand-in-hand, quite delectable.  The broccoli gives it a slight crunch for texture.  And the herbs brighten the dish since cream sauces can feel a little heavy.  Yum!  I'm ready for a second serving!

Weekly Menu

Hope everyone had a great long Memorial Day weekend!  It was such beautiful weather in Columbus, I mean, we couldn't ask for more perfect weather.  It was hard not to be outside for every moment (and my skin is a little pink to prove it).

We started off the weekend by a bonfire staring toward the sky to catch glimpses or the Giraffe meteor shower (meteors were entering our atmosphere about where we see the Camelopardalis constellation, which looks like a giraffe).  I think we ended our count at 9 satellites and 3 meteors after accidentally falling asleep outside and then calling it a night.  But the meteors we saw were amazing!  Nothing like your every day shooting star, these guys had wide blue tails and were so pretty.

Festival season in Columbus really started a couple weeks ago, but Asian Festival is always my season starter.  The little parade followed us around and even circled us at one point!  After getting some tasty yakisoba and tempura, it was off to tailgate for the Crew game.  The boys looked especially good the first half and we ended with a W 2-0.  

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Lots of flower planting, mulching, and raised bed building... which sounds like hard work (it is), but I love it.  Just something about getting your hands in the dirt that heals the soul.  I'm so excited for the new raised beds my husband built for me out of pallets!  I dug up the strawberries that were growing everywhere (except in the pot I planted them in!) and now have a strawberry bed!  Before the runners spread everywhere, the beds are also being used for herbs and lettuce seeds.  :)  Also, I planted hibiscus flowers in my deck planters!  I can't wait to see them in full bloom and feel like I'm somewhere tropical instead of landlocked Ohio.

Today we took Snoop to Hocking Hills to hike some of the Buckeye Trail.  He was such a trooper with all of the elevation changes, stairs, mud, and heat.  He spends most of his time laying around being a lazy dog, but he'll hike seven miles like a champ too.  Hopefully it helps with the four pounds the vet wants him to lose (so silly).

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Oh, and then the garden is coming along great.  The hoop house has ready sped things along.  Look at that rainbow chard!  It is definitely time for some cheesy chard biscuits!

So, time for this week's menu... which is pretty light due to a busy week.  We're celebrating's 3rd blogerversary with Cheryl on Thursday (come join, it's free).  And then box seating at the Clipper's game on Friday.  While I normally don't cook too much on the weekends (we're usually on the go and trying out new restaurants), this weekend might be filled with camping food.  We'll see if the weather holds out...

sliders and crispy potatoes

And our CSA deliveries starts this week!  Can't wait for spinach, strawberry, and green onion salads just picked from the fields hours beforehand.  Mmm... fresh.

Summer Bucket List - 20 thing to check out in Cbus

Columbus Ohio Summer Bucket List

Happy Memorial Day!  Thank you to all those that have served our country so that we can all enjoy the freedoms we sometimes take for granted.

And since Memorial Day is also the unofficial start to summer, our calendars are starting to fill up with cookouts and pool parties.  Make sure you get some variety in your summer fun by hitting up the following 20 guaranteed good times unique to Columbus!

1. Visit the Columbus Zoo's new Heart of Africa exhibit - we all love the zoo, but now you can interact with lions, cheetahs, and giraffes... oh my!
2. Rock out at the LC Pavilion - 90s alternative bands make a comeback in this year's line up with Beck, 311, Counting Crows, Goo Goo Dolls, and Sublime
3. Moonlight Canoeing on the Hocking - you can leave the sunscreen at home as you paddle down the river under the moonlight to a bonfire and s'mores
4. Cheer on the Columbus Clippers - see why Huntington Park was named best ballpark in 2009... and more cowbell!
5. Hit the Trails and Metroparks - Columbus is getting close to 100 miles of trails for walking/running/riding and has 16 Metroparks to get outside and be one with nature
6. Indulge in fair food at the Ohio State Fair - my favorite... ice cream from the dairy barn (home of the butter cow) and some cinnamon candied almonds... it's only once a year!
7. Join a half million of our closest friends for Red White & Boom - find a rooftop, patio, or grassy spot for the biggest firework show in the Midwest and then follow it up with the Doo Dah Parade the next day
8. Yoga in the Commons - get your stretch on outdoors, focus breathing in that fresh air
9. Nice day for a Gallery Hop - join the masses on High Street and enjoy great restaurants and local artist galleries
10. Go to as many Cbus festivals as humanly possible - over 250 festivals listed on Columbus Underground's fest list, that has to be some sort of city record
11. Buy/Rent a standup paddleboard and use it - after surf lessons in San Diego and paddleboarding in the Gulf, we need some sun & surf in Cbus... SUP is gaining traction with meetups at Griggs, Hoover and Alum Creek reservoirs as well as Olentangy River, Big Darby Creek, and Buckeye Lake
12. Get rowdy in the Nordecke at Crew Stadium - defend our fortress with chants, flags, and smoke bombs... Columbus 'til I die
13. Check out the Scioto Mile - specifically the Rhythm on the River series on Fridays including a free BalletMet performance on August 29 to kickoff their new season
14. Chow down at some Food Trucks - they'll be at every event in Cbus, but they will all be at Food Truck Fest August 15-16
15. Ride in a hot air balloon at All Ohio Balloon Fest - soar over Marysville with 50 other hot air balloons August 14-16
16. Visit Ohio Village for one of their event nights - besides old school baseball games and kids activities, Ohio Village will put on Retrorama (8/9) as part of their American Dream series including drinks, eats, music, and more
17. Take a Brewery or Distillery tour through Columbus Brew Adventures - lots of local brews and spirits to sample and then sample again
18. Frequenting the best patios Cbus has to offer - whether it's for dinner or just drinks, there are plenty of patios to enjoy... Third & Hollywood, the Crest, Harvest Pizzeria, Pies, Milestone 229, the Boat House, Haiku, La Chatelaine, Brazenhead, and Local Cantina to name a few
19. Old school drive in movies at South - pack a picnic and catch a double feature
20. Hike Old Man's Cave in Hocking Hills - ranked in the top 50 hikes in the entire country, make this hike a yearly tradition... stay in a cabin and get to some of those less traveled trails too

Of course, if your summer plans are rained out... opt for one of these other 40 things to do indoors!  Yay for summer!!!!  :)

Taco Bread - total time 40 minutes

I know I'm one of the anomolies that has cooked or baked just about everything on their food-related Pinterest boards, but there are still some recipes on there that I'm just not sure about.  Most of the foodstuff I pin look and sound delicious, with a couple tweaks, it's perfect for my somewhat picky pallet.  Other recipes look amazing, but sound much less appealing.  

That's how I felt about this taco twist that pinned over six months ago.  I love stombolis and I love tacos, but mixing the two together seems sacrilege.  I guess if I can do it to stuffed shells, I can do it to stromboli.  So, inspired by Bev's raving review, I checked another recipe off my Pinterest board.

Taco bread is basically begging to be dipped into something, whether it be guac (my fav), salsa, sour cream, or queso dip... the bread makes it nice and sturdy so you don't lose anything when you make your dunk.  The egg wash give the crust a good crunch with a fluffy inside and a savory filling.  I don't know what I was afraid of, taco bread is delish!

Broccoli Chicken Alfredo Pizza - total time 30 minutes

Seems like every night this week I've been rushing to get dinner on the table before 9:00!  Whether it's work, after work activities, working on our fitness, or running after kids, we all need a quick go to meal.  My first mainstay is tacos, but sometimes get tacoed out (it takes a lot of tacos to get there, but occasionally I reach that tipping point).  So my plan B menu item... pizza, of course!

I always have a ball of whole wheat dough in my fridge just waiting to be made into a pizza, stromboli, or calzone thanks to GreenBEAN delivery.  It makes homemade pizza night sooo easy!  

Usually we stick to traditional red sauce with mostly traditional toppings.  But this time I changed things up a bit by making a white pizza!  And what goes best with alfredo sauce?  Chicken and broccoli!  This pizza has become the new favorite in our household.  Can't wait to make it again.  :)

Weekly Menu

Hope everyone had a fabulous weekend!  This weekend was packed with fun things like Race for the Cure, a Cbus bloggers lunch, and visiting with friends.  A bit of a mixed bag with weather after almost getting hailed on walking around Bexley.  Got 'lost' for hours in the Book Loft with a friend (from my 40 things to do in Cbus when its cold or rainy post).  Then we tried Tom+Chee which opened recently in Pickerington followed by going to see Godzilla.  

Tom+Chee is a cute little grilled cheese place, kind of like Melt, but a little less extreme.  My husband had a grilled mac and cheese sandwich.  They also have grilled stuffed donuts (we shared a smores donut).  They apparently have a bakers dozen challenge for eating these donuts... I don't know that I could even eat one whole one let alone thirteen!  I wonder how many people they get attempting the challenge?!


If only the weekend could be longer!  Oh well, time for this week's menu...

jerk shrimp sandwiches (kind of like po' boys)
sundried tomato pasta
baked sloppy joes
broccoli stuffed chicken and salad
pizza night

Oil Pulling Review

I first read about oil pulling a couple years ago.  It was on this 'live from the earth' type blog, so I shrugged it off as something people who make their own toothpaste kind of thing.  I have no beef with Crest and didn't give it a second thought until this viral blog post from fashionlush in February.

Just by checking out her blog, I figured this oil pulling idea was a little more mainstream than I originally thought.  At the time, I had a lingering cold that I couldn't shake and her post said it relieved sinus issues and removed bacteria and toxins from your body.  Well, seemed like coconut oil was performing miracles, not harm in trying it.

So I have been swishing about a tablespoon of coconut oil around in my mouth for 20 minutes every morning since then (well, until a week ago when I ran out and decided to give it a break).  It is a little weird.  Coconut oil is a solid until it warms up in your mouth.  I was expecting to hate it because the only coconut I like is in pina coladas, but it really doesn't taste like coconut.  And the whole 20 minutes thing seems like a long time and a big deal, but you just save a minute or two by not brushing your teeth and you're free to move about your morning routine... swish in the shower, pull while getting dressed, push in the kitchen making coffee... you're done before you know it!

So here are the miracles that oil pulling promises and whether I noticed a difference after two months (and a dentist appointment)...
* whitens teeth - maybe half a shade?
* clears sinuses - nope, not really
* healthier gums and teeth - I could get behind healthier gums, it definitely doesn't reverse cavities :(
* draws out bacteria/toxins from your body - it definitely removes bacteria from your mouth
* cures bad breath - with less bacteria, yes, but it doesn't quite have the same minty freshness as toothpaste
* cures headaches - not that I'm aware of
* clears skin - inconclusive evidence
* strengthens mouth - for sure, 20 minutes of swishing uses muscles
* moisturizes lips, gums, and skin - yep, totally checks out

Final result?  Tried something new, didn't hate it.  It definitely has some perks and drawbacks, just like anything would.  And I'm not sure if this was related or just coincidental timing... but after having a cold off and on for two month, it went away (and stayed away) after I started pulling.  However, I do love the minty fresh feeling from toothpaste, so I started adding a drop of peppermint extract to each tablespoon and that seemed to help.

I would definitely do it again, maybe two jars a year?  It gives my gums and enamel a break from my strong-handed brushing and is kind of meditative in the mornings.  But I also can't give up my toothpaste cold turkey.  So in a few months, I'll buy another jar and see what happens!

If you want to try it out for yourself, get a jar of organic, unrefined coconut oil from pretty much any grocery store.  It will set you back about $8-10.  Start off with about a teaspoon of coconut oil in your mouth (you can upgrade to a tablespoon when you feel good).  Let it warm up on your tongue or begin swishing right away.  Keep on swishing.  Push and pull the oil through your teeth to get the effect of flossing.  Keep swishing.  After about 20 minutes, spit out the oil into a trashcan (it will turn back to a solid in you drain if you spit it in the sink).  Rinse some water around in your mouth and then go about your day.  Remember to do this first thing in the morning to get the most out of it!

Get Your Greens Yakisoba - total time 25 minutes

If you're like any college student ever, you have probably had your fair share of Ramen noodles in your life.  Probably to the point of never wanting to see a pack of those noodles again!  But then a couple years ago, Ramen noodles came back in a more sophisticated, trendy way with chunks of fresh salmon and cute little restaurants.

As the Ramen goes, so goes the Soba noodle.  Maruchan used to make a yakisoba kit available in the refrigerated section next to the wonton and eggroll wrappers.  It had instructions on how to prepare vegetables to go along with your soba noodles and "yaki" sauce pack.  Several years ago, they got rid of that option and opted for a version just like those Ramen noodles we loved to hate in college.  Added in more preservatives to give it a shelf life of forever and has about a teaspoon of dried veggie pieces to try to pass as real yakisoba.  Ugh.

Well, now soba noodles are getting trendy and I'm loving this Japanese fast food!

In this recipe, we're piling on the veggies and they happen to be all green (with at least one serving of green veggies per plateful, you're mom approves of this recipe).  The sesame oil makes this dish a real treat with tons of flavor.  And it truly is fast food, taking less than 30 minutes from start to finish.

Weekly Menu

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there!

Somehow after 'game night' at our place, a stop at the new REI and afternoon at Easton, going to the Crew game, mom's day brunch, time in the garden, and a walk in the park with the Snoop dog... I have zero photos from this weekend.  Maybe I'm not as connected to my phone as I thought!  I take pictures of everything, with my phone or camera, so this weekend seems quite out of character for me.  Oh well, I am just happy to enjoy the moments.

So it is a short and simple post for this week's meal plan.

creamy salmon pasta
more sliders (we bought too many, like always)
pretzel chicken with broccoli
crab legs and corn
potato and leek pizza

What's your plan for the week?

10 Brunch Ideas for Mom's Day

It's funny how people turn out some times.  Over Easter lunch, my mom was commenting about how different we are after I turned down a piece of cake (I really just don't like cake).  We have said it before when talking about cooking, hiking, gardening... actually... a lot of my hobbies.  But there are still many moments where I think we are much more similar than either of us realize.

Of course, I wouldn't be the person I am today without my mom.  No one can say any differently. 

So celebrate with your mom, your rock, with some delicious brunch.  Bring her some flowers and tell her how much she means to you.  There is only one day set aside to celebrate all the moms out there when we should really be celebrating them every day.

(Click on the pictures for the recipes.)

Weekly Menu

At last weekend's blogger brunch, one of the bloggers asked for my Instagram account name because it was easiest than any other method to keep in touch.  I told her I didn't have one and she looked back at me like I must be from a different decade or something.  Considering my day job includes keeping up with the latest happenings on the internet and how it impacts the company I work for, I probably should have an Instagram account.

When I heard about Twitter for the first time back in 2006, I really thought that there was no way it would last.  I mean, at the time, MySpace was dying a slow death (maybe not so slow).  How could something like Twitter catch on when Facebook already does the same thing.  I thought the same thing about Instagram.  It kind of started as a hipster thing, I figured everyone would jump on, and then it would just go away.  Looks like it is here to stay... so guess what... I'm now on Instagram!

I feel a little addicted to my phone now.

This weekend I was putting in my garden.  A little early.  Especially with the fluctuating thermometer we have had this year.  But it is in and it is covered with a hoop house (first time ever trying this and we ended up spending a lot of time going back and forth to Lowes).  End result, pretty awesome I'd say.  I was sitting under the plastic covering at one point trying to get everything to stay put and it was nice and toasty under there.  I'll probably keep it covered until June which should really give the tomato and pepper plant an awesome start!  Yay for gardening season!



Alrighty, here's the plan for this week!  What are you planning to make?

tacos for Cinco de Mayo
breakfast for dinner
game night sliders and snacks
mac and cheese

Rosemary Chicken - total time 20 minutes

Do you ever have those moments where you learn something that seems like it should be common sense and it changes the way you think about everything?  Basically like there must be a better way to do everything... I just don't know it yet.  

That's how I felt after watching one of Jamie Oliver's 15-minute meal episodes.  

After having issues cooking chicken breasts all the way through (you know, there's the thinner side that's done in seconds and the thicker end that can sometimes seem to take an eternity to cook)... I started buying cutlets or actually using my cooking mallet (I have no idea if that's what it is actually called).  And of course, I always season my chicken.

The new-to-me, crazy easy trick... pound the seasoning into the chicken while your flattening it out!  Seriously so simple and the flavor is so much more pronounced.  Wish I would have had this moment years ago!


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