Monday, April 30, 2012

Foodie Pen Pals Take 2

I love Foodie Pen Pals! Who doesn't love getting packages in the mail, and it's oh so much better when you know that's it's going to contain yummy goodness and fun treats. There's a little surprise every month as you remove each item from the box.

For April I received a pen pal box from Lauren at Girls Gone Food. I requested she send me items that she enjoys eating and something that is local. She delivered!

She sent me a bountiful box of goodies! There were chocolate covered espresso beans (wow, those do pack a punch!); popcorn kernels with a garlicky oil treat (little did Lauren know that I am a popcorn goddess and have the beautiful old-fashioned popcorn machine to prove it); apple, rudebaga and ginger jam; rainbow sprinkles; nutella; and a local orange flavored soda. The cute cart of the dog with the wig was a nice extra!

I think that this British import of fruit preserves was my favorite! I love the packaging and am a fan of all its ingredients! I am planning to using it to dress up some chicken breasts, or perhaps as the jar suggests liberally spread it on some croissants! Thank you Lauren :)

If you'd like to learn more about foodie pen pals you can click on the link here. I can't wait to see what May has in store!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Birthday Weekend

I headed home to Ohio this past weekend to celebrate my Grandma's 90th Birthday. It's always been a pretty busy weekend because she shares her birthday with my Dad, and then my special day falls a mere three days later. It's always nice to celebrate the festivities together!

We celebrated her birthday with family and friends at one of my favorite suburban Cleveland seafood restaurants Mitchell's Fish Market (they always have very fresh seafood and the portions for the party were tremendous). We also enjoyed dinner at The Trout Club (our favorite local spot with a stocked trout pound - our family has been members there for almost 20 years now!) I had a lovely pre-birthday dinner at Potpourri with one of my best friend's Kate and her boyfriend. We reminisced about visiting the spot in high school and enjoyed creamy cheese fondue appetizers, meats and veggies cooked in hot oil, and of course chocolate fondue for dessert! We wrapped up the birthday festivities with some delicious Latin fare at Sarava in Shaker Heights - fantastic celebratory cocktails if I do say so myself.

Now I'm in LA with the BF celebrating again...updates on all the goodness I'm eating here coming soon :)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Passover - Matzoh Madness

Sundown Friday marked the beginning of Passover, the holiday celebrating the exodus of the Jews from slavery in Egypt. It's a festive occasion and includes some of my favorite foods and religious traditions. For 8 days all leavened breads, wheat products, barleys, etc. are verboten. Instead there are a bevy of matzoh (unleavened bread, similar to a cracker) products. It definitely forces me to be creative with my cooking!

I made a first night dinner (not a typical Seder, the festive holiday meal) with all the traditional Passover food for my brother and his GF. The foods of Passover are meaningful, each item we eat and drink bears a rich symbolize and tradition. I would not do any religious explanations justice in my short blog entry!
My homemade matzoh ball soup
There was homemade matzoh ball soup (slow cooker chicken stock is the way to go!), beef tzimmes (a traditional stew made with beef short ribs, sweet potatoes, carrots, honey and prunes), charoset (apples, nuts & cinnamon), matzoh for the table, salad (yes, need some greens in there!) and for dessert there was chocolate caramel dipped matzoh (I'll definitely be making that again) and chocolate macaroons.

Beef Tzimmes

Salad, charoset and matzoh
The second night I did go to a traditional seder with my BF's family. His Mom and his aunt are both wonderful cooks and made a true feast. It was wonderful celebrating the holiday with his family, because it's so important to feel like you are part of the tradition.

I'm sticking to my guns this year and am being good keeping Passover. I've been trying out some new recipes and would HIGHLY recommend the quinoa mac and cheese which I of course topped with matzoh meal :)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Living the Good Life in Wisconsin

After enjoying a truly delicious Sunday brunch with my girls Jackie & Annie
I celebrated my 3rd annual girls weekend at The American Club in Kohler, Wisconsin with two of my college girlfriends.  The weekend is always uncomplicated and consists of eating, going to the spa, eating, running (yes, we've got to get some exercise in there), chatting, eating and catching up on "House Hunters". Good times with the girls!

I do love my WI root beer - Sprecher!
As you can see there was quite a bit of eating and I had my camera out at every opportunity! Breakfast and brunch in The American Club's well-appointed Wisconsin Room is my favorite. The room has old-school charm and prestige (it reminds me of the school I attended as a wee lass) and the food (included with our room package) is unbelievable.

The beautifully appointed Wisconsin Room
I visited the resort this past summer with my BF and could not stop thinking about the white chocolate raspberry waffles. They're on the regular menu and if you visit The American Club I HIGHLY recommend them!
White chocolate & raspberry waffles
The Sunday brunch is sumptuous. I've never seen anything like it in all my dining experiences. The sheer variety and quality of each item on the buffet is outstanding. My favorite (yes I went up twice) is the smoked seafood section of the buffet - there is whitefish, salmon, mussels, shrimp, two kinds of oysters - it's fantastic! I know the picture doesn't look exciting, but believe me I remember how fresh everything tastes from year to year and it never disappoints.

Brulee French toast!
Another favorite on the Sunday brunch buffet is the brulee French toast. The chefs use brioche bread and brulee the sugar to order. There is a divine berry compote made with rum and sugar. Yes, this two I got twice (I would like to mention that I did go tot he gym before this meal in preparation for my heavenly eats.)
Smoked seafood delights
I went to school in Wisconsin so I have an affinity for all things Badger State, but I have to say that if you're looking for a special getaway whether you're a foodie, a spa guru, a golfer or someone just looking to enjoy the beautiful surroundings of Wisconsin, I would highly recommend a visit to Kohler!
Chilling after a gigantic brunch in the Kohler Design Center - until next year!