Friday, January 12, 2018

Happy 2018!

Happy New Year!

I hope your 2018 is off to a great start. I've been quiet for awhile and I'm a little late in posting this because ever since all the super fun holiday celebrating, I've been sick. Just like all of you, right? It's just a sinus infection but it's been kicking my butt! This coupled with the arctic weather has made me hibernate more than usual. But maybe I'm not late, I'm just on trend.

I did manage to contemplate the end of 2017 and think about starting the new year. I love the quite time after the holidays to reflect on the past year and look ahead.

Like every year, there were ups and downs. Some of the highlights were:

  • Starting a new job which I love
  • My Mom improving a lot from her stroke last year
  • Spending some major quality time with my bestie in NC
  • Visiting The Lakehouse Inn & Winery and Ashtabula County - stay tuned for more details about that!
  • Buffy turned 16
  • We went on three trips to breweries: Kalamazoo, Lake Chautauqua and Columbus
  • I met a whole bunch of new local bloggers and we're have been having some great meet ups
  • Went to the first annual Donut Fest
donuts, cleveland, Jack Frost, Peace Love and Little Donuts
Tickets for this year's go on sale today at noon! Pro tip: Bring a doggy bag.

The hardest thing we went through this year was finding out that Buffy has breast cancer. Lots of tears were shed as we tried to figure out what was best for our furry little baby. We decided to move forward with the surgery and thankfully she not only survived, she has done better than we ever expected. The news wasn't 100% good because it's Stage 2, but for now, she is doing really good. Having a senior pet is hard but we hope to keep on spoiling her rotten for many more years.

Image may contain: cat and dog

Do you make resolutions? This year I didn't make any specific list. I'm just trying to focus on a couple things. First of all, I'm trying to be better. Eat better. Be better about exercising. Be a better friend, daughter, wife. I'm hoping that just working towards this one word will make it easier to stay focused.

Part of the whole "being better" thing is me trying to be better to the planet. This includes shopping with intention, reducing food waste and trying to decrease my impact on the environment.

We're also working on being better gardeners and increasing our garden this year. We joined our Community Garden last year and learned a lot. Our best crops were cucumbers, kale, Asian greens and cherry tomatoes. Our biggest disappointments were peppers, beets and brussels sprouts. 

Finally, while I didn't make a list of resolutions, I do like lists! So I'm trying journaling for the first time. I purchased this book because it's weekly not daily. I feel like daily is unrealistic for me and would pretty much ensure failure. I can totally dedictate time once a week to focus on positivity, joy and happiness. I feel like it's going to a great $12 investment!

What hopes and goals do you have for 2018?



Friday, December 15, 2017

The Rowley Inn

The Rowley Inn is a laid back bar with great food that happens to be located across the street from The Christmas Story House. It's the perfect stop after a tour, but you'll definitely want to visit all year long.

The Rowley Inn has been around since 1906. They catered to people in the neighborhood including steel mill workers that worked nearby. About a year ago, it was purchased by Jon Oberman and Raphael Rivilla. They have worked hard to keep the history of The Rowley intact, while transforming it into a dining destination for Cleveland style comfort food.

It looks like a typical dive bar from the outside and I honestly rarely gave it a second glance. But thankfully they invited a bunch of Cleveland bloggers in for a complimentary menu tasting because the Rowley Inn was a tasty surprise!

We started with the fantastic Red Ryder cocktail made of course - with Bulleit Bourbon. "You'll shoot your eye out!"
They took the term menu tasting VERY seriously, and while we were left wishing for stretchy pants and doggie bags, we all agreed that we wanted to come back again, even before finishing our meals.
What did we eat:

  • Rowley Shrimp Cocktail - breaded jumbo shrimp with remoulade sauce
  • Fried Pickles - Don Hermann pickle spears, house-made beer batter and a side of remoulade
  • Southwest Chicken Salad - lettuce, arugula, cajun rubbed grilled chicken, cheddar, pico, tortilla strips, corn, black beans, avocado, and creamy cilantro dressing
  • Cleveland's Best Grilled Cheese - smoked gouda, mozzarella, and provolone with a touch of mayo
  • Chicken Club - grilled chicken, avocado, bacon, Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, spicy mayo, walnut pesto
  • Clevelander Burger - pierogi, kielbasa, kraut, beer cheese and Stadium Mustard
  • Mac N’ Cheese - smoked gouda and white cheddar topped with panko bread crumbs
  • Loco Moski - a Cleveland twist on a Hawaiian classic: pierogis topped with a ½ pound hamburger patty, gravy, sautéed onions, & fried eggs
  • Chicken and Waffles - crispy chicken tenders and fluffy waffles slathered in homemade gravy with side of hot sauce
  • Candied Apple Pierogies - The Pierogi Lady apple filled pierogies topped with citrus zest and a sugar glass drizzle
I told you we ate a lot! My favorites were the Shrimp Cocktail, Southwest Chicken Salad, Cleveland burger and Mac 'n Cheese. The Candied Apple Pierogies would have been amazing if only they were served hot and with a dollop of whipped cream or even ice cream.

In addition to their regular menu, they also have daily specials and a great Happy Hour (Monday through Friday 3-6pm) that includes a $6 cheeseburger and 1/2 off select apps. Did I mention $2 draft beers too?

The Rowley Inn
1104 Rowley Ave

Cleveland, Ohio  44109

216-795-5345


You can follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

** Disclosure: I was invited to experience the menu and the food and drinks were complimentary. We each received a gift card for a future visit as well. As always, the opinions expressed are my own. All photos except the cocktail are from The Rowley Inn Facebook page because nobody wants to see my terrible dark photos. :) **








Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Burnham Restaurant

When I heard that Cleveland was getting a new Hilton Hotel downtown, I knew it was going to be something special. With gorgeous lake views and an ultra convenient location right next to the Convention Center, it was sure to be a spot tourists flocked to. But the Hilton definitely isn't just a place for tourists thanks to the very unhotel-like The Burham Restaurant located inside.

I was invited to dine and dish about my experience by the awesome folks at The Burnham. They provided the food, and we purchased the booze. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.


The Burnham Restaurant is modern yet cozy thanks to the muted earth tones and beautiful wood details thoughout. 

Inside the restaurant, there are several distinct areas - the large party seating area shown above, the kitchen level dining room that lets you see the kitchen in action and a lower bar level that offers a wall of windows that opens up to the patio.
We especially loved all of the art featuring Cleveland and created by local artists. Be sure to head to the lower level of the hotel by the walkway to the Convention Center - this Cleveland skyline mural was created with Instagram photos and you just might spot someone you know in it. I found my step-sister, her hubby and a bunch of friends!
We kicked off the meal with a bottle of wine. They had many affordable choices by the glass and bottle, plus some splurge worthy bottle only selections too. One of the benefits of ordering a bottle that is served by the glass is that they will let you sample before buying so you can make sure you order the perfect pairing for your meal.
Parker Station, red wine, The Burnham
The menu has something for everyone and had so many tasty sounded dishes, it was hard to choose what to order. This is one of those places where I wanted to create a meal out of the appetizers, small plates and salads. Next time! While I was extremely tempted by the Lobster Bisque, I opted for the Roasted Butternut Squash Veloute with wild mushrooms and truffle oil.
The best part were the roasted mushrooms hiding in the bottom of the cup. I will definitely be copying this trick at home! It was generous but the perfect size for a starter. A tiniest dollop of creaminess on top would have made this even dreamier.
butternut squash soup, roasted wild mushrooms, truffle oil
In an effort to save room for dessert, my husband and I split a Mixed Greens salad. We especially enjoyed the addition of the marcona almonds. The size was perfect for sharing.
I couldn't resist the Steak of the Day - a perfectly prepared CAB strip steak from a local cow broken down by the chef, served with white cheddar mac 'n cheese and roasted brussels sprouts. It was excellent and I was happy to have enough for a hearty lunch the next day too.
Strip Steak, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, CAB
I loved how the mac 'n cheese was served in a tiny cast iron crock - besides being adorable, it kept the pasta hot and gooey.
pasta, mac and cheese, white cheddar, cast iron crock
My husband ordered my second choice - Roasted Ohio Chicken. This was a boneless half chicken, Gruyére dumplings, spicy Cleveland Kraut, Thumbelina carrots and Hungarian paprika jus. This was a unique and delicious twist on chicken paprikash. I am still thinking of those dumplings.
chicken paprikash, The Burnham, thumbalina carrots
Before we had arrived I knew dessert was a must. The menu had many delicious sounding choices and I had seen some tantalizing Instagram posts. While the Sweet Potato Cheesecake and Spiced Caramel Pumpkin Tart were extremely tempting, I finally decided on the Cherry Creme Brulee with sauteed cherries. I loved that they took a traditional dessert and really kicked it up a notch.  And it was seriously gorgeous too.
dessert, cherry creme brulee, The Burham, Eat Drink Cleveland
We were going to head up to Bar 32 while we were there but we picked the cloudest and rainest evening imaginable. It's another excuse to head back! We also definitely want to go back and try their brunch. With tator tot waffles, blueberry and chia seed pancakes, a quinoa bowl, chicken and dumplings, a $20 bottomless Bloody Mary bar and more, how can you resist?? It's the perfect place for a pre-Browns game feast thanks to it's location.
During the holiday season, they are offering Christmas to Go: your choice of either ham or turkey with delicious sides (chutney, salad, green beans, potatoes and mac 'n cheese to be exact) and either chocolate silk or pumkin pie. All you do is pick it up and go. Serves 6 for $125/$145 depending on the meat chosen. Call 216-413-5096 and order by Dec. 19th.

Thank you to The Burnham and Mouthwater Media for a wonderful evening! 


* Deal alert: Show your CLEseats App for a Free Appetizer when you visit the Burnham! * 

Did you know, CLEseats is a website and mobile app that serves up daily specials and exclusive deals at some of the best restaurants throughout NE Ohio. If you haven't already, check them out too! 


The Burnham Restaurant
100 Lakeside Ave East

Cleveland, OH 44114
216-413-5120
Follow them on Instagram or Facebook

Monday, November 13, 2017

What's Cooking? A Recipe Roundup to Inspire You and Make Dinner Less Stressful

Are you sick of trying to figure out what to make for dinner all the time? I know I sure am! While I LOVE to cook, I get tired of trying to figure out what to make.

Inspired by the NY Times "What to Cook This Week," I'm starting a new feature to help us all come up with practical ideas and inspiration to make dinner more fun and less stressful. These recipes will be realistic, palate pleasing and hopefully help make dinner fun again.

I don't cook at home every night and I'm sure you don't either. I'll focus on 3 great recipes so you can still work in your favorite recipes, use up any leftovers and go out to eat too.

This mayo free tuna salad sounds especially fresh and tasty thanks to the lemon, olives and capers. You could obviously make this into a sandwich, but I think it would be great served on top of a pile of rice, couscous or quinoa and with a side of cucumbers, celery sticks and baby carrots. Quick, easy and healthy too! (New York Times Cooking)

How about a Country Cassoulet that you can whip up on a weeknight? If you substitute canned beans in this recipe, dinner will be on the table in less than an hour. While not authentic, it will satisfy your craving for hearty home cooked goodness. If you want to make this dish a little fancier, head to Heinen's a get some pre-cooked duck confit. Magnifique! (Taste of Home)

Sometimes you don't want to cook but you want something fantastic. Make this herb and garlic baked camembert, open a bottle of wine and dig in. If you want to round out the meal, serve some sliced apples and celery sticks along with the crackers. Pro tip: If you use a brie baker, the cheese stays melty longer. (Smitten Kitchen via Epicurious)

What are you cooking this week?

If you have a favorite recipe you would like me to feature, let me know!









Thursday, November 9, 2017

Bloggers, Booze and Beauteousness

The blogging community in Cleveland is booming. While many of the old timers have hung up their keyboards, there is an enthusiastic and talented wave of new bloggers on the scene showing us that blogging is thankfully not dead.

Leah of By Travel and Error has made it her mission to get us local bloggers together to meet each other in real life for fun, networking and education. It's a more local version of the Ohio Bloggers Association. And she is doing a GREAT job! We're three meetups in, and it's been a blast!

Last night a group of ladies went to The Salvaged Boutique for a crafty night of fun. While I have stalked this shop online for ages, this was my first time visiting. Kathy and Karen are the super sweet owners, sisters and most gracious hostesses.

The Salvage Boutique logo

The Salvaged Boutique is a shop and studio featuring refurbished furniture, vintage good, up-cycled items and unique home decor - basically all the beautiful things. In addition, they offer make and take workshops to let out your inner artist.

Our group made Ombré painted pumpkins. We painted paper maché pumpkins with Wise Owl chalk paint, gilded the stem and applied gold vinyl fall themed words. 
ombre pumpkin
While we were working on our beauteous masterpieces, we sipped tasty cocktails provided by Watershed Distillery. This Ohio-based company is one of my favorites. We had a build your own Old Fashioned bar featuring their pre-made Old Fashioned. 
This is great for a party because you don't have to measure and mix and the cocktail is perfect every time. We also got to try the newly released Apple Brandy that is made with 100% Ohio apples.
Watershed Distillery Apple Brandy, ohio apples
Jen from Watershed made a giant punchbowl-sized cocktail by combining it with lemon juice, maple syrup, and sparkling cider. This was dangerously easy to drink and would be perfect for Thanksgiving.

We also received a swag bag filled with some chocolates, greeting cards by Plum City Designs and beauty samples from Stella & Shay Beauty Bar. It's always nice to find out local businesses. #ShopLocal people!
bloggers painting ombre pumpkins fall meetup
If you would like to follow more local bloggers, here's a list of the attendees to get you started:
Thank you to The Salvaged Boutique, Watershed Distillery, Stella & Shay Beauty Bar and Plum City Designs for helping make this a night to remember.


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Turkey Day the Urban Farmer Way - Thanksgiving Curbside

*Update: You have until Saturday Nov.18th at 6pm
to order your Thanksgiving Curbside feast! **

So first I have to say, that Thanksgiving is my favorite meal. The one I look forward to all year. I just can't get enough turkey and especially all the delicious sides. So as soon as the calendar flips to November, I start my countdown.

This year I got a sneak peak of Turkey Day when Urban Farmer invited me to try out their Thanksgiving Curbside program. Here's how it works - they prepare the entire meal with ALL the sides and all you have to is stop by and pick it all up. That's it! No shopping. No cooking. And minimal cleanup. You get to spend more time enjoying the holiday, visiting with family or friends, or making your Black Friday shopping list instead! 

The only thing you have to worry about is placing your order by 6pm on Friday November 10th.

The Thanksgiving Curbside meal is only $150 and includes all of this:
You may be thinking it's too good to be true, but it's really that easy! And it's from Urban Farmer so everything is super delicious, maybe even better than your normal holiday fare. (Don't worry, I won't tell Aunt Betty!)

When I pulled up, I was greeted by these two lovely ladies pushing a cart with a huge amount of food on it. Pro tip: Make sure you have room in your car for everything. There's a lot of food!
As you can see, the packaging was excellent. There were two large containers each of the potatoes, stuffing and veggies and one big tall container each of the gravy and cranberry sauce.
The boxes are VERY sturdy and have handles so transporting everything was a breeze. Nothing tipped or spilled or got squished.

If your timing is right, you can just dig in when you get home. We weren't going to be eating for awhile and I wanted to keep everything hot so I transferred the sides into oven-safe containers and put them in the oven. You could easily microwave everything too but it was cold outside and I was very happy to turn on the oven.
Do you see the pan the turkey is in in the photo above? That is a real pan and comes with the meal - a very nice unexpected bonus!

Everything was excellent especially the turkey (it was actually juicy!), cornbread stuffing, and the roasted veggies. The rolls and butter were pretty amazing too. The flaked sea salt on top really showed the attention to detail that goes into everything that they do at Urban Farmer.
My Mom and Step-Dad joined us for dinner and there were TONS of leftovers. I only served half of the sides provided and we didn't come close to finishing everything. They say that this meal serves 6-8 but I would say it serves 8 easy and you would still have leftovers. 
Two miracles happened that night:

1. My Mom actually ate turkey...and liked it. She NEVER makes it or eats it,  so this is big news!
2. I fell in love with cranberry sauce. I never even touch the traditional stuff but I couldn't stop eating this one. More of a compote, it is very fresh tasting and has chunks of fruit in it. I've been enjoying it with the leftover butter on bread - way better than typical jam, that's for sure.

Not only were we having a Thanksgiving Feast, we were also celebrating my adorable Buffy's Sweet 16 birthday. (I hope I look half that good at 80+ years old!)
She even had her very own bowl of yum. She ate all this and was still begging for more. She even had some pumpkin pie.
Buffy gave the Urban Farmer Thanksgiving Curbside feast two paws up and we all agreed. While the food may not be the EXACT menu that you are used to, you will not be disappointed. Remember, professional chefs are making the meal. For example, we always do a traditional bread stuffing but loved this cornbread version. There were no complaints and it was a nice change of pace to try new versions of old favorites.

If you are like me, the best part about Thanksgiving is the leftovers. So even if you celebrate with family, this Curbside meal is the perfect way to ensure lots of tasty leftovers. And it's obviously PERFECT for a Friendsgiving too! 

We made lots of sandwiches, a pot pie and some of the best turkey soup I've ever made!

In addition to the Curbside dinner, Urban Farmer also has a Thanksgiving Pie Sale. Of course pumpkin is available but also some non-traditional choices that sound amazing. Shaker Lemon - I'm talking to you! Pick up is on Wednesday November 22nd from 9-11am. Orders must be in by November 8th. Call 440-730-4250 to reserve yours.
If going out on the holidays is more your style, they will be serving a Thanksgiving feast in house too. This is great if you don't want turkey because they also offer lots of choices including beef tenderloin and a fontina risotto with black truffles. Yum. $58 per adult/$22 per child 9 and under.

Before trying the Curbside dinner, I would never have dreamed of not having a family cooked meal, but this definitely made a believer out of me. Would it be too crazy for us to have THREE Thanksgiving dinners?? I'm tempted to order another one! 



** Disclosure: Urban Farmer invited me to preview the Curbside dinner in
exchange for sharing my thoughts with my readers. As always,
the opinions expressed are my own.**

Friday, September 29, 2017

Rumtoberfest at Bahama Breeze

Thank you to Bahama Breeze for partnering with me on this post!

What is Rumtoberfest? It's an annual celebration of all things rum at Bahama Breeze. Now through November 5th, you can join in the fun.
They unveiled three brand-new signature rum cocktails for the event – Shipwrecked, Tradewinds and Frozen Mojito. 

This year’s Rumtoberfest also introduces the restaurant’s largest rum flight, the Rum Raid – featuring eight rum-based cocktails for parties of two or more to conquer. This was so much fun and a great way to try all the tropical cocktails! 
I really enjoyed the Tradewinds and would love to go back and try that Frozen Mojito since it isn't included in the Rum Raid. If you prefer your rum straight, try the Premium Rum Flight: Zaya Gran Reserva, Barbencourt 15 Year and Estate Reserve Mount Gay XO.

In addition to the cocktails, there are two rum based food items: Rum & Coke Ribs and Chicken and Rum Cake. Man, I wish I had room to taste the rum cake!

Rumbash Fridays feature live music, fortune tellers, games and giveaways. For more information, visit Rumtoberfest.com

You can follow Bahama Breeze on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.