Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Stuffed Cabbage Soup

Do you love stuffed cabbage? Do you dread making this dish because of the amount of time it takes to make all those rolls? Well, here's a quick recipe that will satisfy your craving that's easy enough to make after work. I'm sure it would be great in a crock pot too. 

Stuffed Cabbage Soup
  • 1 lb ground beef or turkey
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 6 slices bacon, diced
  • 1 medium head cabbage, roughly chopped
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1/2 bell pepper, chopped
  • 8 cups low sodium beef stock
  • 1 28 oz can tomato sauce or puree
  • 1 16 oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 c. ketchup
  • 2 T worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup rice, uncooked
  • 1/2 t. dried dill (obviously use fresh if you have it!)
  • 1 T Adobo seasoning or seasoning salt
  • 1/2 t Penzeys Spices Beef Roast seasoning (if you don't have it, you can easily skip it and add your favorite seasoning instead)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Slice bacon into slivers. Brown in large soup pot until crispy. Add meat and onions. If you are using turkey, you may need to add a teaspoon of olive oil. Brown for 10 minutes.
  • Add all ingredients except rice. Mix well. Add water or additional broth as needed to create soup consistency.
  • Bring to boil, then stir in rice. Turn down heat and simmer until cabbage is tender.
  • We love it with buttered toast. Enjoy!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Cucumber Finger Sandwiches

I recently hosted my very first tea. I had wanted to for years and am so glad I finally took the plunge. All you need is tea and some nibbles so call up some girlfriends and have your very own tea party!

Finger sandwiches are one of the best things about having tea - who can resist the mini morsels? There are many varieties to choose from but my favorite is a cucumber sandwich. 

Here's my sassy version of a classic.

Sassy Cucumber Finger Sandwiches

  • 1 loaf Pepperidge Farm Very Thin Sliced Bread
  • 6-8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 English cucumber
  • 4 T fresh dill, finely chopped
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 t fresh lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 T unsalted butter, softened
Thinly slice cucumber, as thin as possible. Place slices on clean lint free towel or paper towels and squeeze to remove excess liquid. Set aside. 

Combine softened cream cheese, dill and lemon zest/juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Lay out 2 slices of bread. Thinly spread one slice with butter. Place sliced cucumber on butter, slightly overlapping slices. On the other slice of bread, spread a thin layer of the cream cheese mixture. Press pieces of bread together to form sandwich. Repeat with remaining slices. Place sandwiches on large plate or tray and cover with damp towel. Refrigerate.

When ready to serve, place sandwiches on cutting board. Cut off crusts of bread then cut each sandwich into four triangles. 

Enjoy with a cup of tea and some sweet treats for a fun filled afternoon with your favorite girls.

Valentine's or Galentine's - Tea Hits the Spot

I'm sitting here today snuggled up on the couch with a cup of tea. The flowers my hubby got me for Valentine's Day are still fresh and gorgeous and I'm feeling all in love like every newlywed should.
But as much as I love and adore my husband, boys can't replace girlfriends in your life. There's nothing like a great friend to gossip and giggle and solve the problems of the world with.

This year, I decided to have a Valentine's Day Tea for some of my besties to let them know how much I love them and that even though I'm an old married lady now, they will always be my girls. Every women needs to celebrate Galentine's Day!

The weather reports sounded treacherous but thankfully it turned out to be way better than expected. It actually turned out to be sunny after the morning snow.
Even though it was a tea, we got the party started with some bubbles! Pink moscato champagne with a splash of pomegranate juice was a festive and delicious way to kick off the afternoon.
Then we moved on to the tea.
We started out with some gorgeous jasmine blooming tea because everyone needs some flowers on Valentine's Day.

First up -  savories.
The cucumber sandwiches were enhanced with fresh dill and lemon. So refreshing - they were definitely the big hit of the day. (pro tip: Give yourself a lot of time to make these. They aren't hard to make but are time consuming. Keep them from drying out by covering them with a damp tea towel.) 
The chunky chicken salad included grapes, chopped apples and walnuts. Dried cherries or cranberries would add another pop of red for the occasion.
Potato leek soup was perfect for the wintery day. Piping hot and creamy it really hit the spot.

Lots of sweets filled out the menu. The trio of heart cookies were too cute!
Elisabeth got the promised bonus points for making homemade heart-shaped linzer cookies. She is one talented baker! Ricotta tarts that were like eating bite sized cannoli and a trio of tea breads were a hit.

We had scones too but somehow, no photographic proof!
Buffy didn't like her obstructed view of the festivities so we made room for her - how could we resist?
The afternoon was a great way to catch up with girlfriends! And we were all talking about that this should be an annual event!

If fact, I had so much fun with my friends, I decided to invite my family over for tea a few days later. My two aunties and uncle came over and we feasted and chatted and had so much fun.
More champagne cocktails of course were required.
We added deviled eggs with bacon to the finger sandwich selection. And let's just say, they were a great addition!
We also had some tea biscuits in honor of my Texas auntie who couldn't be with us. Some did get shipped to her though so she could have her own tea party.
How cute are those smooching pups? Perfect for the Valentine's Day theme.
And this pup even got her own heart shaped doggie treat for the occasion. Buffy isn't spoiled at all right?

If you've always wanted to host a tea but haven't, don't be intimidated, just do it! It can be a fancy or simple as you want. The most important thing is gathering friends and family and enjoying each other's company. 


Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day 2014

Hope you all are doing something special. Even if it's just an extra treat for yourself.
photo credit: Serious Eats
Today is our 1st Valentine's Day as Mr. & Mrs. so I can't help but think we should be doing something fabulous. But really, as of this morning, we still haven't decided what we're doing! I did get woken up by a shower of kisses and surprisingly, they weren't from Buffy this time! The Mr. is notoriously bad at holidays so my expectations are low but he is known to surprise the hell out of me sometimes so we'll see what the day holds. I'm thinking if I play my cards right, I can milk a weekend of romance outta him...

Here's some ideas for all you folks who are like us and refuse to be tortured with a prix fixe menu at a crowded restaurant but still want to go out.

1. Grab a couple hot dogs and some tator tots at Happy Dog then head to the Capitol Theater. Girl on a Bicycle sounds like a perfect date night movie (go ahead, embrace the subtitles!) Then stroll over to Sweet Moses to split a Gordon Square sundae. If you don't want the night to end, you can pick one of the many cool places in the area and grab a cocktail. Some of my favs are ToastBattery Park Wine Bar, and Luxe.

2. Another great spot in Gordon Square is Stone Mad. Battle your sweetheart on the bocce court and quench your thirst with a cold one. You can also snuggle up by the fireplace.

3. At Miega Korean BBQ get your sizzle on by trying bi bim bob served in hot stone pot. When you order BBQ, they bring a grill to the table so you and your sweetie and cook together without having to worry about doing dishes. They are located inside Asian Town Center on the 2nd floor so you can walk around afterwards and check out all the cool artwork. The grocery closes at 8pm so if you time it right, you can explore all the unique items and grab a bag of goodies to go. 

4. Grab a group of friends and head to Empress Taytu. The food is like no other cuisine you've probably ever tried and eating with your hands is the norm. The food comes out on these really thin large pancakes called injera. You tear a piece of pancake and use it as your utensil.
photo credit: Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Eats

They have combo platters that are perfect to share. If you can handle some coffee in the evening, you must try the Ethiopian coffee ceremony. This year Valentine's Day is on a Friday so it's worth taking the chance of getting a caffeine buzz.

5. Snuggle up on a toboggan and hit the slopes with your sweetie! The Metro Park Toboggan Chutes in Strongsville are open until 10:30pm. One ride is $4 and a pass will only set you back $10. Afterwards head to the snack bar for some nibbles and hot cocoa and warm up by the fire.

For some homemade ideas, click here.

The Great Big Home & Garden Show 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

So have you been to the Great Big Home & Garden Show yet? If not, you still have time! It's going on all weekend AND you can get 2 for 1 tickets here if you like them on Facebook. Use promo code FCBK. Or you can purchase your tickets for the show for $11 by clicking here. Use promo code EDCLEVE to save $1 per ticket. 

Who wouldn't love a new hot tub for Valentine's Day?? Or maybe a new kitchen? A pinball machine? Or maybe a new grill? You can find all of that and more at the show.

We went last weekend and it was the first time we went on the 1st weekend of the show. I think everyone was excited because it was crowded!

I absolutely had to see Emily Ellyn
Not only is she cute as a button, she's from my hometown! She whipped up some short rib sliders using a pressure cooker that SMELLED delicious but were gobbled up so fast I didn't get to actually taste them. 

After her presentation, we headed over to the Feature Gardens. By far the coolest garden was the American Beer Garden designed by The Ohio Valley Group and sponsored by Great Lakes.

They had a fountain made out of beer taps, beer light fixtures, kegs as lawn art and more. Not surprisingly, they won first place.

We really enjoyed walking around and enjoying seeing trees, plants, grass and flowers. It was a nice escape from winter even if it was for only a few hours.
This swimming pool light display from Independence Pools and Patios was really fun and appropriately sponsored by Shooters.

Flower art! I just wanted to lay down and wake up to Spring.

Thursday, February 13, 2014


Lago not only has delicious food, it also has the right atmosphere for a romantic date. Cozy yet hip, they make you want to linger. While they are not surprisingly already booked for Valentine's Day this weekend, there are a lot of fun reasons to pay them a visit soon. 

I was recently invited to a blogger event highlighting their upcoming events and it only increased my love of this East Bank gem.

A prosecco toast started off our evening along with a trio of starters.
from bottom left: calamari, arancini and Salerno Family meatballs
I ordered one of my go to favorites, the veal stuffed tortelloni. 

I'm not normally a huge fan of creamy sauces but this one isn't too heavy and the prosciutto adds just enough saltiness.

I tried both the beet salad and the chef's seasonal salad that featured pears and gorgonzola. Both were packed full of flavor.

Be sure to take advantage of their extensive by the glass wine list. And I encourage you to request recommendations from Sean their sommelier. His selections for us were unique, beautifully paired and affordable.

Dessert was a combo of the truffled vanilla milkshake and an amazing chocolate chili bread pudding. Order one of each and share - it's a divine and decadent combo. I also snagged a bite (or three!) of the lemon panna cotta - mmmmm!
It was a fun and delicious event.
Anchored in CLE, me and Wearing Mascara
If you need an excuse to pay Lago a visit, here's some of their upcoming events. 
Vegan-Gluten Free: February 19th at 7:30PM

Beer Belly: February 27th at 7:30PM
Fontodi Wine Dinner: March 25th at 7:30PM

I love how you can stay at the fab Aloft for a special price of $99 - great way to extend the fun! The aloft is pet friendly too so Fido can come along.

Their address is 1091 West 10th Street on the East Bank of the Flats. 

Follow Lago on Twitter at @LagoEastBank to keep up on all their events.

** Disclosure: I was invited to the complimentary blogger preview event. 
As always, the info shared is based on my thoughts and opinions only. ** 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Get Ready for Valentine's Day

I know some people hate the romantic holidays but I'll take any extra excuse to show the ones I love how much they mean to me. Why wait 'til February 14th? Start spoiling them today!

It doesn't require $100 rose delivery at work or a prix-fix menu at a crowded expensive restaurant. For me the little things in life mean so much more. Here's a few of my favorite ideas to show some love without breaking the bank.

Champagne Cocktail

Like we really need a reason to bust out the bubbly! But I love this simple recipe to add some fun to your breakfast in bed or evening at home. Simply add a splash of pomegranate juice and some seeds to your flute and viola ~ it's a party!

I'm Nuts About You

Nutella makes everything better. Here's a super easy sweet treat that only takes 4 ingredients and is sure to impress. Find the recipe at Recipe Girl.
Valentines Day Fudge Brownies with Chocolate Ganache
Another tasty idea is to bake up some brownies and decorate them with sprinkles and Reese's Peanut Butter Hearts. These would be a nice treat for your co-workers...and would make sure you didn't eat the whole pan yourself!

For Your Bestie
Blinded by love? Don't forget the lovely ladies in your life. These sunnies are super cute and won't break the bank. Check out Amazon for more colors and wire-rimmed ones too. 
I also really like this scarf - it's fun and flirty but the tiny hearts are subtle enough to be worn year-round.

Homemade Cards
Nothing melts my heart more than a homemade card. These are some of the cutest! Better Homes & Gardens shows you how.

Scratch-Off Card
If you're feeling crafty, this is a fun way to say I love you. Click here for full instructions.

Cutie Pie
I'm totally doing this for my darling husband when I pack his lunch. Hopefully his co-workers won't make TOO much fun of him...

Light My Fire

This candle not only provides romantic lighting, once lit the soy oil liquefies and turns into massage oil. It also comes in naughty fragrances like Naked in the Woods, Blue Lagoon and Skinny Dip

These are just the cutest little candies AND they're for a good cause! Gearharts Chocolates will donate 5% of all sales toward Companions For Heroes. They provide rescued companion animals and skilled companion dogs free of charge to active duty military personnel, military veterans, and first-responders recovering from physical and psychological challenges.

They are almost too cute to eat.

How do you like to celebrate? If going out on the town is more your style, stay tuned for some delicious and fun options around CLE.