Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today as we gather to feast, 
remember to be grateful for the wonderful things in life. 

Happiest Thanksgiving Wishes to all of You!

Pumpkin Pecan Whole Wheat Pancakes

If you know me, you know I love pumpkin. I wanted to make pancakes for my fiance this past weekend in honor of our 5 year anniversary so I decided to finally try making this fall favorite at home. I looked up a bunch of recipes and picked and came up with this not-too-sweet version. They're from scratch with a lot of ingredients but are easy to make and totally worth it. They would be great for a Thanksgiving Weekend brunch. I think if M. didn't already propose, these would have sealed the deal.

Pumpkin Pecan Whole Wheat Pancakes
1 c oatmeal
2 handfuls of pecans

Pulse oatmeal in food processor until a course powder. Add 1 c. pecans and chop until nuts are finely ground and incorporated into oatmeal.

1 1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
3 T brown sugar
1/2 t allspice
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t ground ginger
1/2 t salt

Whisk all ingredients together in a large bowl.

1 1/3 c milk
2 T white vinegar
1 c canned pumpkin (plain, not pumpkin pie filling)
1 egg
2 T oil

Mix all wet ingredients in a bowl until well blended. Add to dry mixture and stir just until combined.

Heat non-stick skillet or griddle over medium high heat until a drop of water dances on the surface. Use approximately 1/3 c of batter per pancake. Place coarsely chopped pecans evenly on top surface of pancake. 
When sides of pancake start to bubble, flip and cook until brown and cooked through.

Serve with warmed real maple syrup and butter. These would also be good with a dollop of fresh whipped cream. Mmmmm....

This makes approximately 16 pancakes. They reheat great so the leftovers are a nice weekday breakfast too.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Eat, Drink, and Stella & Dot!

I have never been a huge fan of the sales parties where you buy candles, baskets, etc. But I finally decided to host my first one when my friend Julie started selling Stella & Dot. I was a huge fan of the jewelry and wanted to help her get established in her new venture. Plus, it was a great excuse for a party!

If you haven't heard of Stella & Dot yet, you need to check them out. Over 1/2 of the items are under $50 and the quality is outstanding. They have scarves and purses too. Click here to see for yourself and shop. The Bardot Hoop Earrings in silver are my favorites - wonder if Santa will bring them to me this year? Rumor has it that my bridemaids' gifts are from here too.

While there was a TON of food, I kept it stress free by making simple recipes that were easy to make. Instead of making homemade pizzas for a large crowd, I opted to order take out from a cute local shop called Reddi's. Our favorite combo is meatball, roasted red bell pepper and onions. Deliciouso!

I like to live dangerously so I tried out three NEW recipes and thankfully they all turned out great! I have a new favorite cookie and you can check out the recipe for Pretzel Crusted Chocolate Chip Cookie Squares at Cooker Girl as part of the Ohio Blogging Association blog swap. (If you want to check out the other participating blogs, click here for a list and links.)

I also made Kahlua-Pecan-Brown Sugar Baked Brie from The Noble Pig. Here's their gorgeous photo of it since mine looked like shit I forgot to take a close up picture of it.
As always, I used their recipe for inspiration but didn't follow it exactly. I put 1 cup Kahlua and 1/2 cup brown sugar in a pan and got it hot and bubbly. I poured it over a wheel of brie that I cut the top off of. I fancied up the top with some salted pecans, then I baked it until it was a bubbling oozing puddle of YUM. 
I served mine with apples,Tastefully Simple Twisty Grahams, Almondina pumpkin spice crackers (Ohio company - bonus!) cranberry almond THINaddictives, and Mary's Gone Crackers. To say this was a hit would be an understatement. 
*Tip: Line your pan in aluminum foil because it's messy.*

I tried to compensate for the splurgy goodness of those first two by making something healthy so I chopped up a brussels sprout salad. This was the most labor intensive thing I made thanks to all the brussels sprouts that needed sliced. If you have a mandolin it would go a lot faster. My inspiration was this recipe from Pinch of Yum

Citrus Sprouts Salad w/ Prosciutto, Pomegranate and Apples
"Super Stella Salad"

  • 1 lemon
  • 1 orange
  • ½ cup citrus olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 slices prosciutto, cooked until crisp then thinly sliced
  • 4 dozen brussels sprouts, thinly sliced
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino-Romano cheese
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1 cup chopped apples (I used Honeycrisp)

For the dressing, zest the lemon and orange into a small bowl. Juice both fruits into the same bowl. Whisk together with the olive oil and S+P. The olive oil I used was a 50/50 combo of extra virgin and my absolute favorite Citrus Reserve Blood Orange Olive Oil.   

Mix all the dry ingredients together then toss with the dressing just before serving. Perfect for the holidays with the red and green!

I also roasted chickpeas for the first time - super easy and addictive! 
  • Drain and rinse a can (or three!) of chickpeas. 
  • Place on a paper towels and rub dry. 
  • Discard any skins that come off. 
  • Place on foil lined cookie sheet and spritz with olive oil. 
  • Sprinkle seasoning on top and bake until crunchy. 
I baked mine at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes. They should crunch like chips but not be too brown. Watch closely at the end so they don't burn. I used Northwoods Fire seasoning from Penzey's (it's a perfect combo of smokey and spicy,) a few shakes of garlic granules, a sprinkle of salt and about 1 T brown sugar. Click here for more seasoning combos - or use your imagination!

Hope you enjoy the recipes! They are all perfect for the upcoming holidays and will leave you plenty of time for mingling. 

If you want to start your holiday shopping from the comfort of your home, you can order Stella and Dot online.  Follow them on Facebook for lots of pop-up sales too. For every order received for my trunk show, I'm making a donation to the Cleveland Sight Center in honor of my Grammie's birthday this month. If you have questions or want to host your own show, just let me or Julie know.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Blog Swap: Cooker Girl's Appetizers for the Holidays

Today Sarah from Cooker Girl is sharing some of her favorite appetizer recipes with you as part of the Ohio Blogging Association's annual blog swap. Bloggers from all over Ohio are guest posting on one another's blogs today as a fun way to learn about other bloggers and get to know one another better. You can check out my guest post on her blog today too. I'm sharing my recipe for Pretzel Crusted Chocolate Chip Cookie Squares - salty and sweet and chewy and gooey - it's everything I love in a cookie! I actually met Sarah through the OBA last year and we are now great friends - I hope you enjoy her recipes as much as I do. 

'Tis the season when there are holidays and parties from now until New Years.  Whether you're the host or a gracious guest, we're all looking for a few new appetizers to make. These easy recipes are sure to be a hit!

Grapes, Goat Cheese and Candied Walnut Bruschetta
Grapes, goat cheese and candied walnuts on a baguette, what's not to like?
Jalapeno Popper Dip
This is a staple at most of my parties because everyone loves it.  Popper dip tastes just like jalapeno poppers, but it only takes a few minutes to put together.  I get a lot of requests for this one.
Pizza Dip
Everybody loves pizza, just spoon this dip onto sliced French bread and you're good to go!
Roasted Tomato and Ricotta Crostini
The roasted tomatoes and creamy ricotta make a great pair on top of some toasted bread.
Sweet Onion Dip
This dip won't win any beauty contests, but it sure does taste good.  The onions mellow and sweeten in this creamy dip.
Source: Eat*Drink*Cleveland
Ricotta Blue Cheese Dip
This last appetizer is brought to you by Eat*Drink*Cleveland herself.  I haven't tried this one yet, but I trust Crystal's opinion on anything food. It would be great for dipping chips, veggies, or even chicken wings.  I love her idea to use it as a sandwich spread too. 

I hope you enjoy the appetizers.  Seasons Eatings!

**Thanks Sarah ~ I appreciate my recipe being included in this list of really tasty apps! And if you don't have time to do your own holiday baking, she recently started selling her delicious baked goods so you can impress your friends and family without getting the kitchen dirty!**

Pretzel Crusted Chocolate Chip Cookie Squares

**Update: Last night I gilded the lily and drizzled salted caramel on top just before they were done baking. Extra yum! *

I'm over on Sarah's blog today as part of the Ohio Blogging Association's 2012 Blog Swap. Click here to visit her blog for my recipe for Pretzel Crusted Chocolate Chip Cookie Squares. While you're there, snoop around and see what other good recipes she has - so many great ones to choose from! And you can even hire her to do your baking for you.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Monday Always Comes Too Soon

I don't know about you, but there is always so much fun to be had on the weekends, that there is never enough time to do it all.

This weekend was no different. Fundraiser on Friday, Madonna concert on Saturday and the Fabulous Food Show on Sunday made for another fun and busy weekend.

For now, I'm drinking Buckeye coffee from our recent trip to Columbus and doing research on wedding cakes thanks to some samples from the Food Show yesterday.

Let the week begin!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Fresh Fork Feast

Last week was the final pick up of the Fresh Fork 2012 Summer CSA. It was a great season with so many tasty choices. This week, I am still enjoying the bounty. Monday's dinner was all Fresh Fork and it was fabulous!

This was my first time trying the Green Onion Bratwurst and it was delicious. Mild with a nice oniony flavor it is a versatile sausage that I'll definitely buy again.

With veggies this fresh, I like to keep my preparations simple to enjoy the intense freshness of the crops. Potatoes (bottom) were boiled and tossed with a ton of fresh cilantro and roasted garlic.

Cauliflower (center) was roasted with olive oil, then tossed with the last of my roasted garlic and a squirt of lemon.

Sweet potatoes (left) were candied with butter and brown sugar.

And the turnips (top) were caramelized. I was looking for a recipe to mellow out the bite of these underutilized root veggies because most of the ones I received were huge. As they get bigger they aren't as tender so I needed to coax the sweetness out of them.

The recipe I used for inspiration had lots of positive reviews on Allrecipes so I knew these would at least be good. But they really exceeded my expectations! I can never follow a recipe exactly so here's my version.

Caramelized Turnips
Ingredients (serves 4)
  • 3 c. peeled, cubed turnips
  • 1/2 c. chicken broth
  • 1/4 c. apple cider
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Boil turnips in broth and cider until just tender. Drain.
  • While turnips are cooking, melt butter in large skillet. Add onions, salt and pepper and cook over medium heat until soft.
  • Add turnips and toss to coat with butter mixture. Sprinkle brown sugar on top and mix well.
  • Cook over medium heat for approximately 10 minutes, stirring gently, until sugar coating is sticky.

If you want to join the Fresh Fork Winter CSA, click here for more info. For approximately $45 you'll get a bag stuffed with goodies every other week. Meat, value-added products like salsa, jam, etc, frozen veggies and more will keep you well fed until the spring.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Starting November Off Right - Part 1 - #WSM100 People's Party

First order of business - don't forget to vote!!
You can click here to find your polling place.

The first weekend of November proved to be a fun-filled non-stop party - I'm still recuperating but it was SO worth it!
photo from West Side Market
Friday kicked off the weekend with the West Side Market's People's Party - a budget friendly fundraiser at Crop Bistro to celebrate the Market turning 100. Over 1,000 people attended this potluck featuring food from more than nearly 40 local chefs.

We somehow timed our visit perfectly and missed the huge lines. We started off with some spiked Crop punch and made our way into the Vault. 
Cleveland Pickle started my night off right. Every morsel was delicious! The pickle topped with goat cheese and roasted tomato pesto and an apricot balsamic spread was my favorite bite on this plate.

Ran into the awesome Chef Jeff Jarrett of Amp 150 in time to snag one of the quickly disappearing fancified PB+J (fois gras with almond butter and jam on toasted brioche) and his perfect squash soup with pumpkin seeds.

I was looking forward to trying the Lion on Lorain's grub finally but they were out of food by the time I arrived at 9:30. So sad! I did snag several handfuls of Anna Harouvis' addictive kale chips so all was not lost.

Loved the sake cocktail from Noodlecat. (And they were nice enough not to point out that I had several - thanks guys!) Chef Brian Doyle of Sowfood made a deliciously different Thai version of squash soup topped with cilantro foam.

Bac had a tasty little pork rangoon to go with their amazing green papaya salad (always one of my favorites!)

The best dessert award goes to Campbells Sweet Factory thanks to their dizzying array of flavored popcorn, cupcakes and chocolate covered everything. Fellow blogger Tom Noe of Exploring Food My Way has a great picture of their spread here.

Some other favorites:
The goat cheese filled cones were topped with the most amazing cherry - yum!
loved the addition of apple and blue cheese in this butternut squash
not your average pierogies
New food truck Slanegwiches' fun marion berry short ribs with pickled veggies 
Our host Crop offered a delicious brisket/polenta combo
In addition to tons of great food, I was dying to get my hands on some Rehive Ale. We also got some honey roasted nuts from the bee keeper's daughter. Perfect combo!
Chef Kimberly McCune Gibson's honey brew hit the shelves at Heinen's yesterday. You can also taste the beer at the Aurora store on Friday (11/9) from 4-8 and the Bainbridge store on Saturday(11/10) from 12-4. $10.99 and a six-pack could be yours. You won't be disappointed!

Loved seeing tons of friends too - I think everyone in Cleveland came out for this event. Especially hungry bloggers.
photo swiped from Wearing Mascara
Julie, me, Michelle and Katrina

@MorganJPerez and her lovely sister

photo swiped from my friend Angela
@WearingMascara and @davidjustice

Sometimes it was too crowded. And loud. (do I sound old or what?!)

And thanks to a last minute VIP party before the doors opened, many guests missed out on some great food. But I wouldn't have missed it for the world. Seriously, look how much fun we had:

We had a little TOO much fun and still had a big weekend ahead after staying out a little too late on Friday. Stay tuned for part 2!

If you want to read more about the #WSM100, check out these posts from 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Ales on Rails for Cleveland Beer Week

Well, Cleveland Beer Week is here and gone. Hundreds of events took place all over town from tastings, pint nights, and tap takeovers to beer and wine pairings and the monster of a conclusion at BREWzilla. There was truly something for every beer lover! Culture Yourself was tops on my list - beer and cheese, yes please! - but unfortunately I wasn't able to attend. Next year for sure!!

But I WAS the lucky winner of tickets for Ales on Rails thanks to a giveaway on Cleveland Food and Brews. Thanks Brad!! If you are a beer lover, this is a blog that you should be reading for sure.

My fiance and I had gone on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad for their Grape Escape and loved it so we were really excited to win tickets to the beer version.
For this event, everyone met at the Independence train station where we were greeted with a welcome beer in a souvenir pint glass from Thirsty Dog Brewing Co.
We chatted as we huddled under the station roof as we waited for the train.
When we boarded, we grabbed a seat and checked out the beer list for the ride:
and picked our boxed dinner from the Winking Lizard:

It was no beer and food pairing for sure but it was filling and delicious. We opted for the turkey sub but there was also a tasty looking veggie option. 

While we waited for the train to start rolling, we ate our sandwiches because we learned from our previous ride that it's better to have some food in your stomach before you start drinking so the alcohol doesn't go straight to your head! I also ate my apple slices because I thought they would taste better on their own instead of with the beer.

The beers were all perfect fall sippers with flavors of pumpkin, nut and maple. The only one I didn't like was the Smuttynose IPA but that's just personal preference. I love grapefruit but the bitterness was too much for me. If you are a fan of  IPAs, I think you would enjoy it though. I loved the Thirsty Dog Pumpkin Ale especially after we found out that the pumpkins are all grown and roasted by them - that's why it comes out later than some other pumpkin beers. Now that's sourcing your ingredients locally! 

I created my own pairing when I ate my brownie with the Penn Brewing St. Nikolaus Bock. The beer was good on its own but with the brownie it was phenomenal. 

Some of the brewers were on hand to pour their brews, answer questions and chat. That's always my favorite part because of their passion and eagerness to share their knowledge.

We rode most of the way to Akron before we turned around. Well, actually backed up. Yep, they back the train up the whole way! We had so much fun and weren't ready for the trip to end.

If you haven't been on the train, you really should add it to your Must Do list. There is one more upcoming boozy event that is sure to be a blast:

*Seasonal Beer Tour 10/4
It departs from Rockside and runs from 2-4 pm. You can buy tickets here. Only 1st class ones are still available which means you get leg room and a cushy seat - not a bad way to sample beers and nosh on tasty nibbles.

They also have Polar Express rides for the kids coming up. And if you prefer to wait until the weather is warm, their Bike Aboard program is one of my favorites. You hop on with your bike for only $2, get off at any of their stops, and then ride back to your car.