Friday, April 22, 2016

Kahlua Cocktail Series: Java Jolt Mind Eraser

Have you ever heard of a Mind Eraser? When I first heard the name, I thought it might be a crazy amusement park ride. But it’s actually a fun Kahlúa® cocktail that is super simple to make and really refreshing.
Kahlua cocktails
A Mind Eraser is a combination of Kahlúa® and vodka topped off with a little club soda. The key is to layer the ingredients in that order because the Mind Eraser is a ritual of layering and drinking down with a straw. This allows you to taste each layer separately with a nice bubbly club soda finish. 

The Mind Eraser is delicious but I wanted to kick things up a notch. I knew I wanted to enhance the natural Kahlúa® coffee flavor so I started by making a coffee infused vodka.
Kahlua cocktails
This simple trick is a great way to boost the flavor of your cocktail. I decided to take it one step further and add a flavored soda. I made my version with vanilla flavored seltzer water but if you want the drink to be sweeter, try making it with vanilla cream soda. Both are delicious! My version is almost as easy as the original but has a bolder flavor that is worth the extra effort.
Kahlua cocktails, Mind Eraser

It was the perfect cocktail to bring to my friend’s birthday party and was a festive alternative to the traditional hot coffee. We had cookie butter cheesecake for dessert and the Mind Eraser paired well with it and definitely upped the fun factor. 
Java Jolt Mind Eraser
1 part Kahlúa®
1 part coffee infused Absolut vodka – see recipe below
1 part vanilla soda

In a tall narrow glass, add Kahlúa®, then coffee infused vodka. Top with vanilla soda. Add straw, sip and enjoy. 


  • For a stronger coffee flavor, swap out the coffee beans with espresso beans. 
  • To help with the layering, turn a spoon upside down and pour each ingredient over the back of the spoon. Trust me, if I can do it – you can too! The video was my 2nd attempt and it turned out pretty good. Practice makes perfect.

Coffee Infused Vodka
2 oz. whole coffee beans
2 c. Absolut vodka

Combine beans and vodka in a glass jar. Let sit, shaking occasionally, for at least 3 days. The flavor intensifies the longer is sits. Strain before serving.

Keeps for up to two months.

*** Disclosure: I partnered with Kahlúa® to create this recipe and 
sponsored post. As always, all opinions and ideas are my own. ***

Please remember to drink responsibly. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Eat*Drink*Cleveland's #CIFF40 Guide

Today kicks off the 40th Cleveland International Film Festival!
#CIFF40, Cleveland, #ThisisCLE
This year is later than most because of an early Easter, so I've been trying to wait patiently for one of my very favorite times of the year. 

If you've never been, what are you waiting for? It's one of the top rated film festivals in the country and there is truly a film for everyone. There are 190 feature films and over 200 shorts from across the world to choose from. 
#CIFF, Cleveland
Maybe you aren't really sure what to expect so here are some tips for you to make the most out of your experience at #CIFF40.

Get your tickets ahead of time. These films will sell out, especially for ones during the most popular times.

Look for discount codes on social media. There are several around offering $2 off per ticket.

Take public transportation. There is parking at Tower City for $3 with validation, but it fills up fast. Save yourself the hassle and take the Rapid or a bus. At the very least, carpool with a bunch of friends. 

Get there early. You may not know this, but ticket holders line up before each movie starts and everyone is let in at once. There is no casually strolling in and finding a seat 5 minutes before the show starts. Give yourself at least a half hour.

Dress for Success. Temperatures are unpredictable so layering endures you'll be as comfortable as possible. Leave your high heels and big hats at home too.

Be polite. Don't even think about talking, texting or otherwise being noisy during the films. That includes eating apples, rustling around in bags of chips and crumpling up packages. The people in attendance take this seriously. Consider yourself warned.

Explore. Between films, take a stroll. There are tons of people in Tower City and downtown so you never know who you'll meet. Filmmakers, directors, celebrities or a friend you haven't seen in years may be right around the corner. You can check out the status of the Public Square renovations, try your luck at the casino or even go to the top of the Terminal Tower.

Eat. There are soooo many great places to eat within walking distance, there is no reason to limit yourself to the food court. Some of my favorite deals are Happy Hour at Mortons or Blue Point, pizza by the slice at Vincenzo's, Noodlecat and TazaIf you have more time, you can even ride the Rapid over to Ohio City. Don't forget snacks and water for waiting in line too.

A Must Do is to try Bloom Bakery. It's on Euclid Ave. across from Chipotle, right at Public Square. Everything, and I do mean everything, is fantastic. Plus it's a non-profit with the mission to help people learn skills and leave poverty behind. 

Expand your horizons. See a foreign film with subtitles. Check out a cool documentary. See a Shorts program. Support your local filmmakers. Talk to people in line - maybe you'll even make new friends!

While you are there, be sure to check out the digital makeover this year too.
Eat Drink Cleveland

I hope that these tips help you enjoy #CIFF40 whether you are a veteran like me or a first timer. Follow along with me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook

You may be wondering what films we are seeing this year - here are some of the highlights:

Monday, March 28, 2016

The New Downtown YMCA - and a Giveaway!

New things are popping up all over Cleveland. I can hardly keep up with all the restaurants, hotels, shopping and apartments around town. And the best part is that a lot of the "new" is actually old spaces transformed - some of my favorite kind of recycling.

A wonderful example is the Galleria. The unique former mall is now a mixed use space filled with shops, eateries, businesses, banks and more. The latest addition is the Parker Hannifen Downtown YMCAThe facility opened to members today and the grand opening celebration is tomorrow, March 29th.
The two story space once occupied by Victoria's Secret and the Limited is now a 40,000 square foot state of the art health and fitness facility. I was offered the opportunity to take a look before they opened and to say I was impressed would be an understatement!

They started off the evening with tasty snacks and a juice mocktail.
We were then given a tour. Absolutely everything is new, clean and top-notch. I didn't even know that half of the equipment even existed. Some of my favorites were the kick ass boxing machine:
The self-powered Woodway Curve treadmill:
The pool:

The spin studio:
The funky lockers:
This pacer bike stationary bike/video game mashup:
And the fancy water fountain/dispenser combo:
And you have a chance to see how awesome it is for yourself because I am giving away an amazing package to help you #EatPlayLive!

Use the Rafflecopter below to win a one-month free trial membership, 2 personal training sessions and one 30-minute massage session! The contest ends Sunday. Winner will have 24 hours to claim their prize: if unable to claim in that time, another winner will be selected. Good luck!!

Follow the YMCA on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Follow the Galleria on Facebook.

**Disclosure: I was invited to take a tour and was provided snacks, a swag bag and a one week pass for helping promote the YMCA. We also participated in a yoga class. As always, opinions expressed are my own.**

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Kahlua Cocktails Series: Russian on Holiday

Spring has officially sprung. Everyone survived the change to Daylight Savings time, the robins are back, my crocus and daffodils (and dandelions!) are in bloom and according to the calendar, it is finally officially here. In NE Ohio, it might not be time to put away our scarves just yet, but everyone is definitely thankful that winter is over and we are ready for spring. Whether you're thinking of Easter, Passover, gardening or March Madness, it's a great time of year!

But nothing is better than an early spring trip to somewhere tropical. That's where I want to be ~ Sandals. Sundresses. Painted toes. Beaches. Palm trees. Cocktails.
Eat Drink Cleveland, Kahlua, Russian on Spring Break cocktail
I love a tasty tropical cocktail - who doesn't? But I'm not a huge fan of the typical neon-colored sugar water and cheap booze that you normally find at the beach. My favorite kind of cocktail is a classic with a twist.

As I was day dreaming about a tropical getaway this weekend, I came up with a really fun take on the classic Kahlúa® White Russian cocktail. If all you know about White Russians has to do with The Big Lebowski, you’re in for a treat. This Dude is a lot more fun. He’s a Russian on Holiday. He's still kind of pale because he just arrived, but he's ready to hit the beach, get some sun and have some fun. Let me introduce you:
cocktails, coconut, Kahlúa, vacation, spring
This super easy cocktail mixes up fast and is perfect for anytime you want to add a little tropical fun to your cocktail menu ~ whether you're on vacation or just want to feel like you are.

Here's the recipe:

1 1/2 parts Kahlúa®
1 part Absolut vodka
1 part half & half 
   (or heavy whipping cream depending on how naughty you want to be)
1 part coconut milk
1/8 t. coconut extract, optional

Garnish: cocoa nibs, almonds and shaved coconut
cocktails, vacation, tropical, Kahlúa
Fill shaker with ice. Add half & half and coconut milk. Shake vigorously. You want the dairy to be really cold and frothy. Add Kahlúa®, Absolut and coconut extract. Shake, shake and shake again. If you want to go old school, serve over ice. If you want to look a little fancy, pour into a martini glass. Garnish with cocoa nibs, chopped almonds and shaved coconut. Enjoy!
Kahlúa, spring break, cocktails, vacation

Tasty Tips:

  • I used the coconut milk you find in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. It's really delicious and so much better than the canned variety.
  • Look for coconut nibs in the bulk food section - it's a pricey ingredient and this way you can buy just what you need.
  • You can use flavored syrup like they use at coffee shops instead of coconut 
    extract. It will make the drink sweeter so adjust the amount accordingly. You can use it to make a coconut Kahlúa® flavored coffee too! 
  • Mix in some banana puree for an tasty twist.
Kahlúa, cocktails, coconut, spring break
For more great cocktail ideas, follow Kahlúa® on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

*** Disclosure: I partnered with Kahlúa® to bring you this post. 
Please remember to drink responsibly. As always, all opinions and ideas are my own. ***

Friday, March 18, 2016

Last minute CLE Home + Remodeling Expo Giveaway

This weekend is the Cleveland Home + Remodeling Expo! Just in time for spring and those fun projects you've been thinking of all winter. If you act fast, you can win two tickets today!
Cleveland, Great Big Show
MARCH 18 - 20, 2016

The three-day home improvement expo will showcase everything needed to take a renovation project from start-to-finish whether renting or owning a home.

Displaying EATCLEHR CLE H+R web button 2016.jpg
Some of this year’s show features include:

Tiny Homes built by Small Spaces CLE will let visitors see why tiny homes are one of the biggest trends in home design. Walk through two homes – both under 200-square-feet – and experience first-hand why a luxury home doesn’t always mean thousands of square feet. Each also will provide inspiration for streamlining and enhancing the efficiency of any home or apartment.
Local celebrities compete for bragging rights with the Better Gnomes and Gardens show feature. Celebrities will design their own gnome for display at the entrance to the Expo and visitors will vote on their favorite. They will also be able to bid in a silent auction to benefit a local charity.
The Main Stage, furnished and decorated by Metro Home, will offer attendees the best of home improvement celebrity appearances. With appearances by nationally-recognized stars and home improvement experts, the Main Stage is one of the most popular destinations at the Expo.
  • Drew and Jonathan Scott – Hosts of HGTV’s “Property Brothers” will appear on The Main Stage Saturday, March 19.
  • Derek “Deek” Diedricksen - recent host of HGTV’s “Tiny House Builders,” will be appearing on the Main Stage Friday, March 18 through Sunday, March 20.
  • Ursula Carmona - Local DIY superhero behind the nationally recognized blog, “Home Made by Carmona,” Ursula Carmona, will appear on the Main Stage on Friday, March 18 and Sunday, March 20.
The How-To StageDesigned for the attendee that would like to be a do-it-yourselfer, will provide step-by-step instruction on how to use many of the products or services available to purchase or for hire at the Expo.

The A.J. Heil Florist Flower MarketYear-round fresh cut flowers offer a simple way to perk up any space. Stop by to take home a bouquet of fresh flowers.
The Marketplace will feature products for cash-and-carry from local artisans and vendors.

Tickets are on sale now Online
Use discount code EATCLEHR for $3 off your tickets.

Or you can win a pair of tickets here! Complete the entries below and leave a comment (for each one separately) with a link to your Tweet, share, etc. Winner will be selected randomly. Please make sure you leave a way for me to reach you if you win.
  • Leave a comment either here or on Facebook telling me what project you'll be working on or what part of the show is your favorite.
  • Share this blog post on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram.
  • Tweet the following:  I want to win tix to the #CLE @GreatBigShow from @EatDrinkCLE #ThisisCLE #GreatBigShow

Winner will be chosen Friday at 11pm. Tickets will be picked up at the show.

Good luck!

* Disclaimer: I was asked to help promote this event and offered two tickets to 
give away to a lucky reader. All photos used with permission.*