Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas. May you spend it with family and friends that love you, and plenty of good food and drink!
Us? We're cozy for a day with family, opening gifts and each contributing an "appetizer" that is spread out throughout the day. Mom is starting us off with a breakfast pizza!

I am making Baked Brie and Prosciutto Rolls.

12 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
12 oz. Brie wheel, cut into 12 slices
12 thin slices prosciutto
Honey, for drizzling
Green apple, sliced thinly
Jam of your choice
Flaky sea salt and black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 350º F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Place 1 sheet of phyllo dough on a clean surface and gently fold it in half crosswise. Brush the phyllo with a little melted butter, being sure to cover the entire top half.

3. On the short end of the dough, spread a thin layer of jam and then place a slice of apple, piece of prosciutto, and a slice of Brie. Roll the phyllo up over the filling, folding the side edges in to seal, burrito style. Place the roll seam-side down on the prepared baking sheet and repeat to make 12 rolls total. Brush the tops of each phyllo roll generously with melted butter.

4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the rolls are golden brown on top. Remove and drizzle lightly with honey. Sprinkle with black pepper and a little flaky sea salt. Serve warm.

What are your holiday food traditions?

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Weekend Bites

So, I'm a little late in the week to catch you up on our weekend, but it was a good one so I'm still going to share!

It actually kicked off on Thursday, as it was our fourth wedding anniversary. Mr. H had our florist, Urban Orchid, recreate my bouquet. He's done that every year since, and it's always a wonderful way to look back on our wedding. Big husband points there!
We knew we wouldn't be able to go out to dinner to celebrate until the weekend, but still wanted to have an easy, yet special, meal at home that night. We had grabbed a truffle pecorino from Old Brooklyn Cheese Co. the weekend before, and it was begging to be grated over some pasta! It was soooo decadent. 
I just had to share this...he's not with me for my gift wrapping skills.
Friday we were offered some good seats to the Cavs' game, so we hopped downtown and enjoyed the game for a bit. No matter what the team is doing on the court, I always enjoy the experience of The Q. The fire cannons are my favorite!
But then we really got to celebrate on Saturday night. We headed to the holiday pop-up bar, Lake Effects, connected to The Schofield Hotel. Super cute and vintage Christmas-inspired setting with Instagram-worthy moments all over, but horrible, terrible cocktails. The beer and wine list is small and nothing to get excited about either, but I'd stick to it if I were you.
We then walked over to Urban Farmer, where we had held our rehearsal dinner. We were welcomed with a glass of champagne, and surprised with an amazing celebratory dessert. From start to finish, the meal was absolutely amazing.
Our last stop for the night was Hilarities at Pickwick & Frolic. Attending a comedy show is one of Mr. H's favorite things to do, and this was one of the most interactive shows I've been to. A good portion of his show was picking on the audience members, which was hysterical. Including calling one young guy's girlfriend on his cell phone to harass her for not allowing her boyfriend to drink alcohol, ever, because she had a bad experience once. You can only imagine the fun a comic had with that.
Sunday was spent recovering from the celebrating, as you can imagine.

We've been together 11 years, but being married for the last 4 has truly been even better than I had imagined. There's no one I'd rather celebrate life with, and not just in the big moments like an anniversary. We do a darn good job of celebrating and appreciating each other year-round! It's the people in your life that matter most, and I'm so lucky to have found him.

Thanks for taking a peek into our anniversary celebrations, and for enjoying and celebrating life in Cleveland with me year-round. With the holidays upon us, I reflect even more, and this little slice of the web brings me a lot of joy. Thank you!

Monday, December 10, 2018

Cleveland's Local Eatery

Cleveland's Local Eatery (C.L.E.) has opened in the Old Brooklyn neighborhood in the former Acropolis Restaurant Tavern space on Memphis Avenue.
 I can't find any information online, but I'm pretty positive that the new ownership of the space fell within the same family, but with a revamped concept and decor. It's fresh, modern and Cleveland-centric.
They are offering breakfast, lunch, and limited dinner service (closing at 7PM).
Mr. H and I decided to split two sandwiches on Saturday afternoon for lunch, including the Patty Melt with fresh cut fries...
...and the Classic Gyro ($8.99).
Both were solid and the price point should do well in the neighborhood.

But where this spot really shone was the customer service. You can immediately tell that it is family-owned and operated, and we were comfortable and checked in on from the moment we walked in the door to the final moments of the meal when we were served a housemade brownie with our check.
Now that's what I'm talkin' about!

6019 Memphis Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44144

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Holidays with Heinen's

Mr. H and I were recently treated to a Heinen's Holiday Entertaining event at the insanely gorgeous Trevarrow Inc. kitchen showroom. Seriously, what dream kitchens are made of. 
We were there for a cooking demonstration on how to prepare a perfect holiday roast, with amazing wine pairings included. Heinen's has some of the finest meat in town, with a dedication to quality and sourcing.
It couldn't have come at a better time, as the family has started to plan what Mr. H and my brother will be making for Christmas dinner. Perhaps a Boneless Rib Roast...
or Crown Roast of Pork...
or Boneless Strip Roast...
Each were expertly prepared and delicious! So were the wines...
...but I've come to expect that from Heinen's. Their wine selection is top-notch, the price points you can get high-quality wines at are a steal, and the staff in the wine department at any store location will never steer you wrong. We get the best recommendations from them!

Our favorite wines from the event (all pictured above) were the Jackson Estate Pinot Noir and the Liparita Cabernet Sauvignon. Since the event, I've already picked up a bottle of the Liparita and a splurge bottle of the Dragon's Tooth.

Heinen's has all of your holiday needs covered; from beverages to help you entertain guests (or deal with your family?), weekly deals, recipes, events, and more. Check it out for yourself.

Disclosure: I was invited to attend this event with a guest, and received a goodie bag and gift card in exchange for my engagement. All opinions stated are 100% my own.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Weekend Bites

This past weekend's fun truly kicked off on Friday at noon. I was working from home, so I was able to scoot out to meet Mr. H in the neighborhood for a bite at Sabor Miami Cafe. I had a sweet tooth craving after lunch, and lucky for us...the new Lilly Chocolates and Confections location is right on the way home from the cafe. This Peanut Butter Maple Crunch Bar may be one of the best things I've had from them. Think "naked candy bar" for the texture and flavor.
Saturday started with a fueling at Cleveland Bagel Co., and I couldn't stop thinking about what foods I would top with this Everything Mix if it happened to find its way into my stocking this year. Hint, hint!
We killed some time before Ohio City Provisions opened at All Things For You vintage shop on Lorain. I picked up two gorgeous small ceramic Christmas trees. But as soon as Ohio City Provisions opened their doors, we were there to not only meal plan for the week, but to also start dreaming of what to make for Christmas dinner this year. Does your family make the same meal every year, or switch it up?
Saturday evening brought Date Night, with dinner out at Luca Cleveland. Both the Piatto di Mar and the Cannelloni di Vitello were insanely delicious and left us scraping the sauces off the plates. Then we hopped over to a new-to-us bar, Tributary. I enjoyed the setting, the craft cocktails were quite good, and the bar started to get busier as we left around 9:00PM. Before that, it was a little too dead in there. It's relatively new, but with the location on Detroit Avenue being near several of our favorite areas to dine in, I can see it being convenient for people to stop in before or after a meal nearby. We'll be back.
Sunday was mostly spent at the house preparing for the week ahead, but we did pop out to Creekside Restaurant for breakfast before grocery shopping at Heinen's in Brecksville. I've just never been enamored with the food at Creekside. You? 

We stocked up on some great wines from Heinen's for the holidays ahead, and snagged two of these planter beauties for our front porch.
It ended up being a busy weekend, but one on our own terms with no outside commitments. A great way to start December, because the rest of this month does not look that way!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Recipe: Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookie Bars

Every good cookie recipe should start with caramels...
...and chocolate chip cookie dough, in my humble opinion.
Well, this one does.

Mr. H and I partnered with Heinen's to bring you a cookie recipe to make for the holidays.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookie Bars (Time: 45 minutes, Serves 30)

1 cup unsalted softened butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
8 oz. soft caramels (unwrapped)
1 cup crushed pretzels
1 teaspoon flaked sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9" x 13" baking dish with foil and liberally coat with nonstick cooking spray.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the softened butter with both sugars until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, vanilla, salt, and baking soda. Mix well, then scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

Turn the speed to low and add the flour. Beat to combine, then mix in the chocolate chips.

Press half of the cookie dough into the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
Layer the crushed pretzels on top of the cookie dough base.
In a medium sauce pot, add the sweetened condensed milk and unwrapped caramels. Set over medium-low heat and stir until the caramels melt, making a smooth caramel filling.

Pour the filling over the base.
Drop the remaining cookie dough over the caramel filling in small 1" clumps.
Bake the bars for 25-32 minutes (we pulled them out at 28 minutes once the top was a nice golden brown, but the first layer of cookie dough was not entirely cooked through), until the center is just set. I suggest checking them every couple of minutes towards the end.
Sprinkle with sea salt flakes and allow the bars to cool completely. Then lift the bars out of the pan by the edges of the foil and cut (we used a biscuit cutter to make round cookie bars). Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or you can freeze the bars to make them last longer.
This ooey, gooey cookie bar was decadent and totally holiday indulgent-worthy. 

All ingredients were purchased at Heinen's. In early December, Heinen's will be hosting a holiday baking weekend sale on many of these items included, like butter, eggs, Pillsbury flour, Nestle Morsels, and Domino Sugar bag. Give these cookie bars a try then, and be a hit at your next holiday gathering!

I did adjust the recipe above slightly from the one we followed, since our bottom layer of cookie dough was slightly under-cooked and I felt there was too much caramel at the original 10 oz. included.

What's your favorite holiday cookie this time of year?

Disclosure: I was provided with a Heinen's gift card to purchase items used for this recipe in exchange for this post. All opinions stated are 100% my own.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Lobster and Pho

Located in the Rockside Corners Shopping Center in Independence, Lobster & Pho is bringing Louisiana-style seafood boils, East Coast lobster rolls, and Vietnamese phở to diners all in one spot. Sounds like a strange combination, right?
Other than the creepy glowing tanks filled with your next meal's live seafood right as you enter, the place actually kind of works. Nothing will blow your mind, but the food coming out looks good, no matter which section of the menu you're focused on.

I split The Beginner ($38) seafood boil, which includes a 1/2 lb shrimp, 1/2 lb clams, 1/2 lb crawfish, half blue crab, 1/2 lb snow crab legs, and 1/2 lb mussels.
We ordered it at a mild spice level and with the Signature Cajun and Garlic Butter Mix for the seasoning. Even at the lowest level of mild, it had plenty of great flavor and a tiny kick of heat. Besides the obvious of being incredibly messy to eat (don't worry--- bibs, gloves, and wipes provided!), it was plenty of food to share for lunch and we both enjoyed the seafood included.

Now, I'll just have to head back to enjoy a bowl of phở this winter, and also try a lobster roll to get a glimmer of our summer trips to Maine.

Plenty of free parking available in the strip mall lot, and this casual restaurant is family-friendly.

Lobster and Pho
6901 Rockside Road
Independence, OH 44131
(216) 525-0028

Monday, November 19, 2018

Der Braumeister 12 Beers of Christmas

Der Braumeister is hosting their annual 12 Beers of Christmas Tapping on Wednesday, November 21st. The night before Thanksgiving is one of the most popular bar nights, and you could spend it sipping on rare and exclusive holiday brews while noshing on traditional German food. I got a sneak peek last week!
 I hadn't been to this charming, old-world restaurant before.
I couldn't decide if this cabinet of nutcrackers was fun or creepy. Maybe both! I loved it.
But we were there for the beers!
Try them all in a flight and be sure to add some German food. Reservations required, and this event will sell out! Reserve your spot by calling 216-671-6220 and receive an early Christmas gift from Der Brau--- a retro beer glass or mug filled with candy for your table. Two seatings are available, 6-7PM and 8-9PM.

Now we also got to sample of their food at the preview tasting. I learned that raw, salted, and buttered radishes served with beer is a German tradition. One that I quickly became addicted to!
We also sampled charcuterie...
...Sauerbraten with burgundy, ginger and juniper marinated Ohio beef in a sweet and sour sauce and served with spätzle and red cabbage...
...Rheinlander Platter with a smoked pork chop, bratwurst, potato croquettes and red cabbage.
We only had small bites of the food, so Mr. H and I decided to stay and order dinner after the event. We started with the German Lox with Nova smoked salmon, pumpernickel bread, euro cream smear, cucumber, lemon and fresh dill. I would have preferred that the bread be toasted, and it needed a little salt and squeeze of the lemon to really pop the flavor, but it was a nice light start to the meal.
Speck Rahmschnitzel with pork pounded thin and dusted in flour and sautéed in a creamy sauce with bacon and onion and served with Cleveland Kraut and mashed potatoes.
The meal left us wanting to come back and try more, so that's always a good sign!

Check out Der Braumeister if you haven't been, and use Wednesday's 12 Beers of Christmas Tapping for an excuse to head there soon.

Der Braumeister
13046 Lorain Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44111
(216) 671-6220

Disclosure: I was invited to attend a media preview tasting event with a guest in exchange for sharing event information. All opinions stated are 100% my own.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Hook and Hoof

Hook and Hoof in Downtown Willoughby became our dinner destination when Mr. H and I found ourselves headed out to Willoughby Brewing Co. to finally get my hands on their famous Nut Smasher Imperial Stout (yes, it lived up to the hype). I'm not overly familiar with the area, so I knew that I needed to head to Twitter and ask Jen of Why CLE? for a restaurant recommendation.

She didn't steer me wrong, and we ended up with a reservation at the Chef's Counter, with great views of the action happening in the kitchen!
This "New American" kitchen is also known for their craft cocktails, and they did not disappoint.
A lot of the menu sounded right up our alley, so we had to start with splitting a couple of small plates. Including the Cold Smoked Salmon ($14) with roasted garlic horseradish crema, rye crostini, chow chow and citrus oil. A fancy "bagel and lox" that was light and full of great flavor and textures!
We also shared the Bone Marrow and Arugula Salad ($14) that came out with two huge bones and wonderful grilled bread.
Mr. H went with the Double Bone-in Elk Chop ($32) with rosemary polenta (to die for texture and flavor), cider roasted root vegetables, and chow chow. Because how often do you see elk on a menu?
I ordered the Pan-seared Mahi Mahi ($27) with butternut squash and mushroom risotto and a pomegranate-apple gastrique. Another winner.
Really, this meal was delicious and beautiful from start to finish, and we loved our seats at the Chef's Counter. It's a small place, so I'd suggest making a reservation. We don't find ourselves in Willoughby too often, but this spot will be on our re-visit list!

Hook and Hoof
4125 Erie Street
Willoughby, OH 44094
(440) 571-5312