Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Olmsted Falls Sunoco Gas Station Hummus

Hummus is tasty and healthy, but it doesn't normally create a buzz in the foodie world. That is until some folks discovered a average looking Sunoco gas station in Olmsted Falls that happens to have a delicious surprise inside. A regular looking gas station on the outside. An amazing hummus purveyor on the inside. This is not your average gas station!
Head to the back of the store and you'll see a deli-type case with your typical lunch meats and cheeses. But the star of the show is the little containers on the top shelf.
The hummus is homemade by the owner's Mom aka MamaMary and you can really taste the love that she puts into every batch. The freshness and texture can't be beat. They offer really interesting flavors that will change your opinions of this Mediterranean treat. 
From top left: jalapeño, plain, pomegranate, and bacon (beef)

Pomegranate, dill pickle, jalapeño and kalamata are my favorites. A really delicious baba ganoush is also available sometimes. But whatever flavors you choose, make sure you get the hot pita that is dusted with za'tar seasoning.
While homemade hummus is definitely the star of the show, they also make delicious sandwiches and gyros.
We decided to try the Philly Steak Sandwich and a gyro. The Philly Steak was HUGE and could easily be shared. The gyro was demolished before a photo could be taken. It was also very big and tasty.
I love stuffed grape leaves so I had to try some of those too. They were vegetarian, fresh and a great buy. My only regret was not getting more.
I also noticed some mujadara in the case and decided to try that too. It was good, but nothing special. I really missed the onions on top.
Pro Tip: If you need to bring something to a party, grab and assortment of hummus and pita. You will definitely be asked back.
Even if you aren't someone who normally gets prepared food at a gas station, you definitely want to take the plunge and try this place. If you want to check to see what they have available before you make the trip, call ahead. Everything is fresh and they sell out regularly.

Olmsted Falls Sunoco
9796 Columbia Road
Olmsted Falls, OH 44138
(440) 235-0351

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Friday, January 26, 2018

5 Things Friday

Here are five little things that made me happy this week:

1. A double date with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law at 750ml Wine Bar in Brecksville. I love this place because you can choose a bottle of wine from the retail shop on the 1st floor, pay a corkage fee, and enjoy it upstairs next to the fireplace. We tried a Kosher cabernet from Israel for the first time - and it was great!

They also have wines by the glass and a solid beer selection. They have great eats too. They have a week day happy hour and fun events. Check out the Master Somm Taste-Off Feb. 6 from 6pm- 8:30.
kosher wine, wine, Carmel Winery, wine from Israel
2. Making roasted peanuts for the first time. So easy and so good! Why have I never tried this before? Hot fresh roasted peanuts > regular peanuts in the shell. Get some raw peanuts and roast them on a rimmed baking sheet at 350 for about 20 minutes. This would be a perfect snack for a Super Bowl party!

recipe, peanuts, roasted peanuts, what to do with raw peanuts
3. Celebrating the birthdays of my two nieces. With their birthdays just weeks apart, they had a combined party for double the fun.
my niece Kerra, birthday cake, cute pigtails, three year old girlbirthday cake, my niece Mira, 5 year old girl, birthday party
4. Receiving free wine in the mail. Mancan sent me a sampler pack of their canned wines to try out. I'll be sharing details in a post soon.

Mancan, canned wine, wine in a can, Ohio company, California grapes
5. Attending Red and White on Thursday Night - the annual fundraiser for the Arthritis Foundation. Here's a photo to whet your appetite. Stay tuned for more!
porky belly, watermelon, food on a stick, party food, #AkronRedWhite

Have a great weekend and be sure to have some fun!

Saturday, January 20, 2018

5 Things Friday

Five little things that made me happy this week.

1. Buffy - I honestly think she's always at the top of the list. This little nugget is more precious with every passing day. 
2. Braving the storm to go see my favorite Johnny Cash tribute band. The weather was frigid but the music was hot! If you like Johnny Cash, definitely catch one of these shows.

3. The annual #CookerGirlSupperClub Soup Party. Nothing is cozier than gathering with friends and slurping a bunch of delicious soup.
The craziest soup of the night was Julie's Split Pea Soup with Grilled Hot Dogs and Hot Dog Bun Croutons. Sounds weird but it actually was quite good! The hot dogs added the same salty savoriness as the ham normally would. So fun!
Yes, we have more than soup.
Sarah's homemade french bread is always a HUGE hit! Plus she send everyone home with a loaf. 
4. Trying King Cake for the first time! We were very lucky to have Sarah's brother in attendance at the soup party. He brought a taste of his former home of New Orleans to the table and it was delicious!
5. Bar 32 for a complimentary blogger social. This bar at the top of the Hilton offers unbelievable views, great cocktails and tasty appetizers. We loved seeing the frozen lake - it's so pretty from above. When it's warmer, they open up the open air patio. Swoon. Make sure you ask them to validate your valet parking for a reduced rate.

And one more bonus - I finally bought my domain name! Can't believe it took me almost 7 years to do this. Thankfully nobody else bought it while I was farting around! So as of yesterday, I am officially Stay tuned for more exciting changes on the blog this year.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

21st Annual Red and White on Thursday Night Giveaway

**Winner Winner** 
** @grrttwright from Instagram. Congrats!! **

January means lots of things: the end of the holidays, making resolutions, cold and snowy weather. But there is also a really fun event to help get you out of the funk - Red and White on Thursday Night! This annual fundraiser for the Arthritis Foundation is the perfect way to shake off the winter blues and help raise money for a great cause.

January 25, 2018
5:30 to 9:00 p.m.

Quaker Station at The University of Akron
135 S Broadway St
Akron, OH 44308
Red & White on Thursday Night presented by Cleveland Clinic Akron General is a night of great food and drinks. Indulge in dishes from Akron’s best chefs, craft beers and local and international wines. In addition, highlights of the event include exciting raffles and a unique auction, and an exclusive VIP Lounge featuring specialty cocktails. All proceeds benefit the Arthritis Foundation’s mission to conquer and cure arthritis. VIP guests will enjoy food and wine pairings from Gervasi Vineyard and The Twisted Olive and specialty cocktails from Brown-Forman.
Eat Drink Cleveland wine grapes cookies

This year, there will also be craft beer from Hoppin' Frog, Hi Ho Brewing Co, Mucky Duck Brewing and Rhinegeist.

Buy your tickets online or enter to win two tickets by doing the following:

1. Follow Arthritis Foundation and Eat Drink Cleveland on Twitter and tweet the following: 

I want to win tickets to @ArthritisFdn #AkronRedWhite from @EatDrinkCLE. You can enter too. #akron #giveaway

2. Enter on Instagram - go to this picture and follow the steps.

3. Comment on this blog telling me what chef or restaurant you are most interested in trying.

Contest ends Sunday and will be announced on Monday.

Read about my experience at last year and find out more about this year's event on Facebook.

** Disclosure: I was provided two tickets in exchange for helping to promote
 this event and well as tickets to giveaway. **

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?

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Clue into Healthy Cooking at Home

If you know me or read my blog, you know I love to eat out. But I also really love to cook and do it regularly. I like that when I cook at home, I know exactly what I'm eating. It also helps me save my dining out dollars for higher quality meals (no Applebee's for me!)

To help everyone keep their New Year's resolutions about eating healthier and losing those extra pounds, I'm going to share some of my favorite healthy recipes with you that are super easy...even if it's your first time in the kitchen!

1. Citrus Kissed Kale Salad 
kale, salad, pomegranate, healthy recipes, whole 30
Beautiful salad for the holidays thanks to the bright red and green colors.
This is a new recipe that we recently tried that is now a staple. It's so healthy and delicious! The original recipe came from the Feb. 2012 issue of Whole Living magazine. Here is my version:

1 bunch kale, torn into bite sized pieces
1 T fresh lime juice
2 T citrus olive oil
1 piece fresh ginger, grated (about 1T)
1/2 fresh pomegranate (about 1/2 c)
2 T red onion, chopped
1/4 c toasted walnuts
Put kale leaves in a bowl. Drizzle olive oil, lime juice and ginger on top. Rub into leaves until well coated and kale is bruised. Add remaining ingredients and S+P to taste.

* Drain kale very well. If it is damp, the dressing won't stick.
* If you don't have citrus olive oil, add segments of clementines, tangerines, or mandarin oranges to the salad.
* I used a lot more ginger, closer to 2 tablespoons

salad, vegetarian, kale, recipe, Whole 30, healthy eating
raw kale salad with clementines
2. Crystal's Cherry Delicious Brussels Sprouts
cherry brussels sprouts, recipe, vegetarian, eat healthy, toasted pecans
toast nuts in dry pan until fragrant

1 pound brussels sprouts, cut in quarters
1 c toasted pecans or slivered almonds
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
1/2 c dried cherries
1/2 c golden raisins
1 T herbed butter

Toast nuts. Set aside. In same pan, saute onions in olive oil until soft. Add brussels sprouts and cook until just tender but still firm. Add herbed butter and fruit. Season with S+P to taste. 

* Even people who claim to hate brussels sprouts love these. 
* I always double the recipe because they are soooo good!
* I use Creekside Creamery Garden Herb Butter from Costco. You can substitute plain butter and herbs of your choice.
healthy eating, recipe, vegetarian, barley, stuffed acorn squash

3. Barley Stuffed Acorn Squash

2 acorn squash, cut in half
2 small zucchini, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup dried chopped dates, cherries, raisins
1/2 slivered almonds
1 cup cooked barley
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. cayenne pepper
1 t. Adobe seasoning
S+P to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place squash cut side up in shallow baking dish. Liberally salt the inside of the squash. Add 1 c water to pan and set aside. Sauté onions and zucchini in olive oil until tender. Add garlic, dried fruit, almonds and stir until fruit plumps. Add cooked barley and seasonings - mix well. Adjust seasonings to taste. Scoop mixture into acorn squash halves. Cover with foil and bake until squash is tender, about 40 minutes.
Barley stuffed acorn squash, vegetables, recipes, fall recipe
stuffed acorn squash, recipe

stuffed acorn squash, recipe, fall
Savory and sweet with a touch of cinnamon and a little heat,
this is a great vegetarian first course or meal

These recipes are all perfect for the colder months and won't break the bank or your diet plans! They are healthy, easy to make and won't keep you in the kitchen for hours. I hope that 2012 is a happy and healthy year for all of you. 

Now get cooking!

* This post has also appeared at the now defunct blog Clue into Cleveland as a guest post for my friend Amanda in Jan. 2012.