Friday, November 16, 2018

Getting hygge with it! Let's Have a Soup Party

If you like the idea of entertaining, but think you don't have time or it's too much work, I have the party for you. A Soup Party! It's the perfect party, especially at this time of year. When the temperature drops, we naturally spend more time indoors and start thinking of all things hygge.
Photo Credit
Hygge, in case you don't already know, is the Danish art of coziness. Candles, knit scarves, fireplaces, blankets, cocoa or tea and of course soup are all things that create hygge. But hygge isn't just hibernating alone in your house. It's about enjoying the company of friends and family too. A Soup Party captures this concept perfectly!

So what exactly is a Soup Party? Well, obviously it features soup. But it's a bit more fun than that. Each person brings a pot of soup to share. Add an app or two, some crusty bread and a something sweet, and simple soup turns into a fabulous feast. My friend Sarah hosts a Soup Party every January and it's one of the most anticipated nights of the year!

This Roasted Butternut Squash Soup recipe is perfect for a Soup Party. It can be adjusted to be vegan, vegetarian or gluten-free so it easily accommodates the dietary needs of any guests. 

This soup is like a warm hug. Plus it's quick, customizable and healthy too! You can roast all the veggies ahead of time and whip it up in minutes when you are ready to serve it. The recipe is very forgiving and you can swap out or add ingredients to take advantage of what you have on hand or food preferences. You can leave out the sweet potato or swap it for a russet. Use veggie broth and maple syrup to make it vegan. Leave out the hot pepper if you don't like spice. And if you have some leftover canned pumpkin, you can stir that in too.
Photo Credit

You can see me make the soup on New Day Cleveland, and then make this at home with the recipe below.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

2 medium butternut squash, cubed (about 4 cups)
1 large sweet potato, cubed
2 carrots, sliced thick
1 medium red onion, chopped
1/2 stalk celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 roasted hatch chile, or other hot pepper such as jalapeño, poblano, etc.
1/4 c. apple cider
Olive oil
1/4 t. aleppo pepper (or cayenne)
4 c. broth or stock
1 T. Adobo seasoning
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. paprika
3 T. honey or maple syrup
S+P to taste

Preheat oven to 375℉. Put all veggies in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with aleppo pepper and season with S+P. Spread on a large shallow tray and bake until tender, approximately 25 minutes. You want the squash to be very soft with lots of brown spots. 

Pour broth in Vitamix container. Add roasted veggies, apple cider, Adobo, cumin, cinnamon, paprika and sweetener. Blend on soup setting. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. 

If you don't have a Vitamix, you can easily make this on the stove. After roasting the veggies, add them to a pot. Add the other ingredients and bring the liquid to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth.

Now comes the best part - the toppings! Set out an assortment of tasty toppings and guests can customize their bowls and create their own masterpieces. 

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Green onions
Pomegranate seeds
Crumbled sausage
Crispy sage leaves
Creme fraîche
Chopped fresh parsley
Candied almonds
Goat cheese
Goldfish crackers
Roasted delicata slices
Feta cheese

If you dread cutting up the squash, you can but it pre-cubed at the grocery store. But it's expensive and doesn't taste as fresh. You can also cut the squash in half and roast it cut side down, then scoop out the flesh. But my favorite way to prepare squash is super simple and fast. Here's how:

- Cut off the ends of the squash
- Prick all over with a fork
- Microwave for 3 minutes
- When cool enough to handle, use a potato peeler to easily remove the skin

That's it! Easy peasy. 

What is your favorite kind of soup? 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Holidays at the Ritz: Afternoon Tea and Dinner Feasts

A tea party is one of the loveliest ways to spend the afternoon. This time of year, afternoon tea is a perfect time to escape the hustle and bustle of the holidays and enjoy what makes them truly special - the people. Spending a couple hours relaxing and reconnecting is a wonderful way celebrate the season. The Ritz Carlton Cleveland hosts some of the very best teas throughout the year, but during the holiday, they are even more special.

This year they are featuring two types of teas for the holiday season: Afternoon Tea and Teddy Bear Tea.

Afternoon Tea

The classic. This beloved tradition offers a selection of festive teas, tea sandwiches and tempting sweets.

December 2, 9 , 15 - 22
2pm - 4pm
$48 per person for adults
$22 per child 10 and under
+ tax and gratuity

Teddy Bear Tea

This tea is truly special. The Teddy Bear Tea is the perfect setting for an enchanting holiday afternoon where children can savor a child-friendly tea menu and create their own bags of candy, receive a teddy bear gift, and enjoy holiday story-telling courtesy of Mrs. Claus.

December 15 - 21
11am - 1pm
$68 per person
+ tax and gratuity

These will definitely sell out so be sure to call for reservations: (216) 902-5254.
And if tea isn't your thing, you can still celebrate the holidays at The Ritz. Reservations are required for all dates - call  216-902-5255 to reserve your spot at Turn Bar + Kitchen at The Ritz.


Guests can give thanks with family and friends and savor a four-course feast featuring traditional favorites of holiday soup, salad, turkey with all the trimmings and a pumpkin pie root beer float for dessert. Yes, a pumpkin pie root beer float! What a fun way to end the meal.

Thursday, November 22, 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
$70 for adults
$30 for children 10 and under
+ beverage, tax and gratuity


Holiday diners are invited to create Christmas Eve memories and savor a four-course dinner of roasted chestnut soup, salad, prime rib of beef and an adorable mini yule log.

Monday, December 24, 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
$75 USD for adults
$30 USD for children 10 and under 
+ beverage, tax and gratuity


Tuesday, December 25, 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
$75 USD for adults
$30 USD for children 10 and under
+ beverage, tax and gratuity

A dazzling array of flavors provides the perfect Christmas dining experience in the warm, inviting ambience of TURN Bar + Kitchen. Soup, salad, holiday prime rib and yule log dessert highlight the menu.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Homegrown Cleveland

Join me this weekend at Homegrown Cleveland to support local makers and get a really early start on your holiday shopping.

The Homegrown marketplace will feature goods sourced from across downtown neighborhoods including apparel, jewelry, ceramics, tableware, poster art and more.

Enjoy beer from Great Lakes and wine from ManCan and take a break from shopping and relax in the K&D Lounge.

Saturday, November 3
11AM – 4PM

Red Space
2400 Superior Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44114

All attendees receive a free Homegrown tote bag designed by Cleveland Clothing Company and two drink tickets.

Get your tickets online and use Promo Code "Crystal" for a 50% discount!

** Disclosure: I was asked to help promote this event and 
received a free ticket for my personal use. **