Alley's Recipe Book
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Forno Pizza Kitchen


If you haven't been to Forno yet in the Short North, what are you waiting for?!  After the success of Pint House, the owners opened this restaurant down the street.  Many of the menu items are local, and as the name suggests (forno=oven in Italian), many of the dishes are cooked in a wood-fired oven.  Tons of daylight streaming in the large windows with fancy light fixtures and nice seating, but the prices are certainly reasonable.  At around $11 for an appetizer and $14 for a pizza, dinner for two is just $25.

Now that I have been to Forno a few times, I have yet to try something that wasn't excellent.  The warm ricotta with baked peaches was delicious, almost sweet enough to be a dessert.  The arancini (risotto balls) were a lighter take on fried mozzarella.  And every time we get the forno chicken pizza, because if it's good enough to put their name on it, it's good enough for me!  :)

So, now that you're ready for pizza night at Forno, don't let the doors trick you... there are three doors, but use the one on the left (most southern)... the others do not open and you'll look kind of silly tugging on them.

forno pizza kitchen forno
forno forno pizza kitchen  

Weekly Menu

Can't get enough of these beautiful blue skies!  What a pretty day, despite being somewhat cold.  Just had to take the Snoop to Pine Quarry for a nice walk... love that it is so close to my house.  :)

pine quarry city park pine quarry city parkpine quarry city park pine quarry city park

Saturday was quite cold and rainy, so we headed down to IKEA for the first time ever!  Finally got some adult dressers after using hand-me-downs for so long.  IKEA is definitely an experience... I'm not used to spending that much time in one store.  The way that it snakes around, you probably walk at least a mile while shopping... well, I was gimping around with my ankle contusion.  :(  

After spending a few hours hobbling around, we made a pit stop at the Cincinnati Premium outlets (as if I hadn't had enough outlet shopping from two weeks ago)... but we did get some great deals at Columbia.  Can't wait to have our National Park road trip vacay, now I'm getting into the vacation research too.  

And now for this week's meal plan...

sausage stuffed baby peppers
spaghetti and meatballs 
grilled chicken caesar salad 
Then prepping some food for an overnight hike this weekend!  Those winter clearance items from Columbia will come in handy.  :)

Cauliflower Tacos - total time 30 minutes

I have read a couple articles that have stated that cauliflower is going to be the next big food trend.  I don't think they are going to call it a superfood, but as people are turning to more meatless meals, they are looking for "meaty" vegetables so they don't miss it.  I feel like I saw cauliflower start trending the middle of last year in the foodie/food blogger world, so it's only a matter of I time before it is on every menu!

I used to actually hate cauliflower.  I think it have a weird texture and not a ton of flavor.  But then I tried it roasted!  Put a little spice on these white nuggets and they are delicious!  

So I ordered some cauliflower in my GreenBEAN bins and started trying some different things.  My favorite so far has definitely been the tacos (probably no surprise there).  I have made them a couple times now and each time my husband asks me to put chicken in his (I tell him no).  He begrudging eats it and really likes it!  I don't know how many times we will have to go through the process until he admits that he likes it anytime other than when he is scarfing them down.

These are kind of kitchen sink tacos.  I basically looked in my fridge (and freezer) to see what I had to add to the cauliflower.  Frozen corn from the summer, salsa, and some pepper jack cheese... And I have made it the same way since!  But don't feel like you need to stick to these ingredients.  The cauliflower is definitely the star of this taco and packs some spicy, nutty flavor.  Other roasted veggies would be great... sautéed onions... eggplant... even some shredded chicken.  Make it your own, but make sure to include lots of super trendy roasted cauliflower!

Weekly Menu

Well, there has been a break in posts because I went to the Dominican Republic for vacay with a friend.  I was back last week and had a meal plan, just never got around to posting it.  It was a little boring any way since I was coming off island time and then were driving around quite a bit toward the end of the week, so we were eating out more than usual.

Any way, this week is Earth Week where both Earth Day and Arbor Day happen in the same week, so why not make the whole week about being green?!  Last year I wrote about some easy tips on being a little greener in general, this year I'm giving you a few tips on how to be more green in the kitchen...

1.  Use reusable containers whenever possible.  Sure ziploc bags are convenient, but you end up throwing them away.  A glass storage container is best because you can freeze and heat them as well as you don't have to worry about BPA chemicals.

2.  Save your scraps.  Whether you toss your veggie scraps in a freezer container to make stock later, juice it, or throw it in your compost pile... scraps never need to go in your garbage can.

3.  Unplug your appliances when you're not using them.  Do you really need your coffee maker plugged in while you're at work?  Probably not.  And it is using electricity even though you aren't using it.

4.  Grow your own food.  This one is on my post from last year, but seriously is a great way to make a difference.  Have a few small pots with herbs in your kitchen and you'll remember to water it and use them to flavor your cooking!  Also, if you start with a couple potted fruits/vegetables like cherry tomatoes and strawberries, that is one less thing that has to be trucked from somewhere to end up on your plate.

5.  Use cloth napkins and dish towels to replace paper napkins, paper towels, and disposable cleaning wipes.  Self explanatory and it saves you money too!

dawes arboritum dawes arboritum

Alrighty, here is this week's meal plan...

BBQ chicken salad 
spaghetti bake
asparagus frittata and hash browns
taco night with chips and homemade guac
creamy salmon pasta

What are you planning to make this week?

Dei Fratelli

dei fratelli

I got a chance to work with Dei Fratelli, an Ohio based company specializing in canned and cartoned tomato products.  Now I typically grow and can my own tomatoes, but this summer will be a first time since having a garden I will not be growing tomatoes.  Since my garden is so small, the only way to avoid tomato blight in the plants is to take a year off.  So I was kind of in a conundrum because I'm not giving up tomatoes for a whole year.  The next best thing to growing and canning your own tomatoes is supporting a company that is local, organic, and GMO free!

Dei Fratelli is based out of northwest Ohio and sources nearly all of their tomatoes from family farms in Ohio and Michigan.  You can get their crushed tomatoes to tomato juice to salsa to marinara sauce in cans, jars, and cartons.  I picked up some of their cartons and they have one of the coolest tricks I've seen... the seal, that is always impossible to get open with slippery cooking hands opens when you unscrew the cap, thought that was pretty amazing!  Also, I love the cartons because you can store the unused portion in you fidge for almost two weeks... which is perfect when you're only cooking for one or two people.

The best part is that it tastes like home canning!  When you unscrew that cap, you get the same wiff of summer just like after that mason jar lid clicks off the jar.  Probably one of my favorite smells in the winter.   If you're in the market for some canned tomatoes, definitely give Dei Fratelli a try!  Not only are you supporting a local company and local farmers, but it also tastes better.  :)  Also, enter to win a few cartons to try by entering here!

Here are some recipes to try...

Cheesy Fajita Couscous with Shredded Enchilada Chicken - total time 25minutes

cheesy fajita cousous with shredded chicken and enchilada sauce

Haha, I used to avoid those cooking game show type things on the Food Network or Cooking Channel (cupcake wars just gives me anxiety), but after participating in the first Chopped at Home challenge, I find myself watching the show on occasion.  The last one I saw had viewers vote for the basket ingredients which included cow eyeballs!  Ick!

Luckily, the at home challenge has much more forgiving ingredients.  This time it is Mexican blend shredded cheese, chicken tenders, salsa, and couscous.  All ingredients the average home cook has used before and almost make sense together.  I love Mexican food, so the Mexican cheese blend round sounds delicious!

If you have never had couscous before, it is kind of like quinoa.  I used to cook with it a lot more as a rice substitute before quinoa became so popular as a super food edging out some of the shelf space at grocery stores couscous once occupied.  You can get different sized couscous, pea-sized to itty bitty grain size.  

I was in the mood for some enchiladas, so this dish could easily be wrapped up in tortillas and baked for 20-25 minutes instead.  But this way, we are cutting the carbs and attempting an artsy presentation that is really easy.  Word of caution, you could use four pots/pans for this dish (which sounds like a cleaning nightmare to me)... Or you could use two and have to be watching things a little more attentively.  Read all if the directions before starting the recipe (best practice for any recipe).  :)

Four String Brewery (Grandview) Review

 four strings brewery
We went to Four String brewery and taproom the other night after enjoying several of their beers around town.  The location is a little hard to find, off of Fifth in Grandview behind the B Dubs... And even then... There really isn't much signage.  You feel like you're walking into someone's house with the screen door.  

Once inside, there is seating for about 20.  A bar with six stools and a few tables.  You actually walk through the brewing area and keg storage on your way to the bathroom.  Several of the fermenting tanks are actually formally dairy farm storage.  You can get flights or pints, both reasonably priced, or take away a few six packs.  We went to try the new Suncaster summer wheat ale recently released and also found out they were on their last keg of vanilla porter (my favorite!), so I had to have a pint!

The bartender was super friendly especially since it was not very busy for a Saturday night.  With such a small space, it was cozy and we ended up talking to a couple visiting Columbus on a self-guided brewery tour.  

Four String's taproom has 6-8 of their beers on tap and is open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.  Happy hour is 4:00pm to 7:00pm where pints are only $3.  This cozy environment and friendly people make you feel at home.  We'll definitely be going back! 

four strings brewery four strings brewery

Zoe Cafe (Bexley) Review

zoe cafe Untitled

On our way to Franklin Park Conservatory we search on UrbanSpoon for some options to eat in Bexley.  We're always looking for new things to try, so when Zoe Cafe came up and we had never heard of it, we decided to give it a try.  It is located on Main Street kind of across from Cafe Istanbul... you should probably type it in your GPS because they don't have a sign on their building yet, just an easel.  The outside looks very modern and I remember driving by it while they were building wondering what was opening.

We were definitely surprised walking in since we weren't sure what to expect.  Lots of wood, cork, and mason jars... very trendy.  I think they were still trying together a few things figured out as their espresso menu wasn't fully vetted out.  However, they had a great menu of very reasonably priced sandwiches and appetizers.  Probably the best thing, though, which it wasn't warm enough to utilize yet is that the full bar had both inside and outside seating!  Just pull open the mini garage doors and the bartenders are at your service from the patio and outdoor barstools!

I got the shaved turkey club and my husband got the pulled pork sandwich, both were very good.  We are excited to come back again when it is warm enough to sit at the outdoor bar, but will probably have to wait in line for those coveted barstools.  :)

zoe cafe zoe cafe
zoe cafe zoe cafe


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