Sunday, December 28, 2014

Savory French Onion Soup

Let me start off this post by saying that soup is my favorite type of food.  I think it's so underrated!  Why would a warm, hearty, comforting bowl of goodness be reduced to a lunchtime dish or appetizer only?!  It blows my mind because I crave all types of soup all year long, and even make huge pots of it on 80° summer days.  I'm either really odd, or have really good recipes (I'm guessing the latter).  I made a batch of my Savory French Onion Soup today, and it's seriously out of this world delicious!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Coconut Thumbprint Cookies

Christmas at the Schill house would not be complete without dozens and dozens of cookies.  From good old-fashioned sugar cookies, to butterballs, to cranberry biscotti...we bake up quite the storm!  Though I love cookies in any form, my absolute favorite recipe around the holidays is for our coconut thumbprint cookies.  When I say they're to die for, I'm not even kidding...the recipe has been in my family for over 100 years!  My great-grandma passed the recipe down to my mom, and we've been baking them together every Christmas for as long as I can remember.  The hardest thing about the recipe is making enough to keep everyone satisfied!  I swear once you bring them to somebody, they keep asking for them year after year!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Howie's Steak and Gorgonzola Bruschetta

Today marks the 50th post and 1 year anniversary of No Place Like (O)Home!  I can't believe that all this time has passed!  When I think about the fact that I finished my capstone studio, graduated with my Master of Architecture, started my first adult job, traveled to Chicago (twice!), New York, Boston, Portland, Seattle, Williamsburg, Oxford, and Buffalo AND cooked all these recipes and many more that I didn't write about...well, it definitely seems like it's been a jam-packed year.  Rather than dedicating this celebratory post to a special recipe, I'm going to dedicate it to a special person: my awesome boyfriend, Howie.  Not only was he the person that pushed me to turn my cookbook into a blog, but he's been my biggest fan the entire journey.  I can always count on him to try anything and everything that I concoct, ask me a million questions while I cook to test my professional expertise, and even create impromptu chopped challenges in his kitchen when he's missing ingredients we need.  Last week, he surprised me and cooked an incredible meal all on his own after I had a lousy day, and it's seriously one of the best recipes on this blog!  He made steak and gorgonzola bruschetta on toasted ciabatta bread!  Howie, looks like you're officially upgraded from chopping garlic!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Cleveland Botanical Gardens

One of my all-time favorite activities (besides cooking of course!) is exploring Cleveland.  I know it sounds a little cliche, but I didn't name my blog No Place Like O(H)ome for kicks.  There are so many interesting neighborhoods that define Cleveland, each with different personalities, attractions, people, architecture...the list can go on forever!  University Circle is probably Cleveland's fastest growing area with a ton of museums and cultural attractions, but I only go maybe twice a year for fun?  Not okay!  Maybe I was scarred from having 3 studio projects located on the Case Western Campus within a year?!

That outlook's about to change now that I'm a fully functioning adult because the area is BEAUTIFUL!  This past Sunday, my family had a Christmas outing to the Cleveland Botanical Gardens, and it was my first time there.  The Botanical Gardens were amazing, especially when every room was adorned with extra lights, decorations, and hundreds of gingerbead houses for the Christmas season.  They even managed to scope out tropical plants from Costa Rica and Madagascar that fit the holiday scenery.  Incredible to say the least!  I can't wait to go back; preferably when it's warm and I can actually explore the gardens outside...

After the gardens we had a delicious pre-holiday celebration at Southside: Restaurant and Bar in Tremont.  Wine, laughs, a million appetizers, and on top of it, an actual dinner!  It's never a dull moment with the Schills!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Peanut Butter Kisses

One of my all-time favorite recipes to bring to parties, especially around the holidays, are peanut butter kiss cookies.  It's a recipe that many people already have and bake, but they're a guaranteed crowd pleaser every single time!  I mean, who doesn't love the peanut butter and chocolate combo?!  This past weekend, I brought them to Howie, Chris and Zach's Ugly Christmas Sweater Party, and was happy to take home a completely empty tin!  That's a success in my book!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Reinventing Leftovers: Chicken Bruschetta

I will be the first person to admit that I do not like leftovers; life is way too short to eat food that tastes half as good as it originally did.  That being said, I am a fan of converting leftovers into dishes that taste like they were just prepared by adding a few fresh ingredients to brighten up the older flavors.  It's so quick and kind of fun seeing what I can concoct with random ingredients I have on hand...practice for Chopped once I'm on Food Network?!  Tonight, I was put in the perfect scenario to re-use leftovers: it was 6:30 pm, my stomach was growling, I was really thinking hard about driving up to Chipotle, and, on top of it, felt super lazy and drained from a busy day at work.  Did I get the burrito bowl I was craving and completely ruin my pre-thanksgiving diet?  No way!  Instead took a leftover piece of grilled chicken from last night, some day-old french bread (because who ever really finishes the whole baguette?), some leftover baby spinach, and a few standard pantry items to make grilled chicken bruschetta!  It tasted like a restaurant meal and only took 15 minutes from start to finish!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Turkey Day Favorites

I'm thankful for my family, my friends, the coolest boyfriend in the world aka Howie Hayden, loyal blog followers like yourself, and for the fact that America has a national holiday completely dedicated to cooking and eating with the people you're thankful for.  BEST DAY EVER.  Though many people consider cooking the all-important meal a daunting task, my mom and I have a system down pat that guarantees our dinner will be on the table by 3:30 p.m., with a little time for watching the Rockettes perform in the Macy's Parade, test tasting and maybe even a quick workout (if we're feeling extra ambitious) too.  Even if you're just in charge of bringing a single dish to the meal you're attending, these 3 sides are always some of the biggest hits at our dinner!  Happy Turkey Day!  And don't forget to use my super simple pie crust recipe if you're in charge of the pumpkin pie this year!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Roasted Cheesy Potato Soup

I love Sundays!  It's my hands-down favorite day of the week for cooking or baking because I have the entire afternoon to relax and move at my own pace...a.k.a. experiment with new recipes and do things like bake focaccia bread for the second time in a month!  Howie and I have been testing out soup recipes all fall, and were really in the mood for a creamy, hearty potato soup to get us through the cold day.  It may not be our healthiest creation, but it was definitely one of the most delicious!  Actually, it was so delicious that I felt the need to box twice in 24 hours and consume green smoothies and kale salad for the majority of the next day.  Worth it?  Duh.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Cleveland Restaurant Week - Spice Kitchen & Bar

Attention people who are A) trying to save money, B) interested in gourmet food and fresh ingredients, or C) extremely sick of the burgers, sandwiches and fries that seem to be ubiquitous around the Cleveland food scene.  It's Cleveland Restaurant Week 2014 through this Sunday!  It's one of my favorite times of the year because it's an opportunity to sample multiple courses at expensive restaurants that I normally would not step foot into unless it was a special occasion or for a happy hour cocktail.  You get 3 full-size courses, an appetizer, entree and dessert, for $33.  A glass of wine isn't included, but I consider it mandatory.  This past Saturday, Howie and I went to Spice Kitchen & Bar, and amazing doesn't even begin to describe our experience!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Panko Parmesan Crusted Chicken

Now that the weather is starting to cool down and the grills are getting put into storage, it's time to start looking for new ways to reinvent everyone's go to dinner: chicken.  It's definitely one of the healthiest, cheapest, fastest and most versatile cuts of meat to prepare, but it also tends to be boring if it isn't prepared well.  I've been making this panko parmesan crusted chicken since last winter, and I still don't get sick of it!  Tender boneless, skinless chicken breasts coated in a flavorful panko and parmesan spice mixture, then sauteed until golden brown on the cooktop and finished in the oven to give it an added perfect.  And still versatile.  I've served this chicken over a mixed green salad with apples and walnuts, with some pasta sauce and mozzarella cheese on top for an awesome chicken parmesan, and I've even coated it in buffalo sauce to make buffalo chicken sandwiches.  This past weekend, I served the panko parmesan chicken with sweet potatoes and a side salad with freshly toasted walnuts.  It just never gets old!

Sunday, November 2, 2014


Although 97% of the recipes I post on this blog are things I've invented or family pass-downs, I still try other people's recipes too.  I probably should more often, but I never seem to make it all the way through the recipe without modifying ingredients and spices to make it perfectly suited to my own taste.  Another problem is that I also don't really believe in measuring when I cook because each time the ingredients I'm using might need different amounts of salt or spices depending on the season.  Regardless, I hate following recipes word for word.  I blame it on my creativity and stubborn personality.  This past week, however, I did follow a recipe by Rachel Ray for jambalaya, which I had no idea how to prepare myself.  I did some tweaking, but only for the spices that I thought I had at home while I was at the grocery store, and then they weren't there when I got back.  The substitutions I made might have made the recipe even better than hers...sorry Rachel, I'm coming for Food Network!  I knew it was a hit when I wasn't allowed to bring the leftovers home from Howie's house!  Mmmmmm!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Apple Pie

Let me start off this blog post by saying that this apple pie recipe is very near and dear to my heart.  It was actually the recipe that first inspired me to start a cookbook back when I was 19 years old.  I was in between my freshman and sophomore year of college, and made an apple pie on a warm summer afternoon.  I decided to photograph my beautiful pie after it came out of the oven, and realized that it looked just as good as some of the pictures I would see in cooking magazines.  Before I knew it, I was furiously baking and cooking as many recipes as I could to photograph them before I went back to a cramped dorm room sans oven or stove at Miami University.  I used an online publishing software to design the layouts for my cookbook, and finally finished it in Fall 2012...all because of this simple pie recipe! 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Post-Boxing Reward Day

I picked up a new hobby a couple of months ago...BOXING!  Not only does it make me sound a little bad-ass, but it's super fun and a great stress reliever (for my extremely stressed out, neurotic self) hitting the 100 pound bags to ghetto rap music.  The biggest reason why it's awesome is that you burn almost 1,000 calories in 1 hour, which means I can cut my old 40-minute-on-the-treadmill-6-days-a-week habit down to 3 days of intense boxing/kickboxing!  Definitely not easy, but so worth it. My arms are getting ripped!  So this weekend, I was absolutely starving after my late morning class at Title Boxing Club.  I know it probably would've been healthier to have a grilled chicken salad or something afterwards, but all I had that day was a low-cal green smoothie, so I wanted real food.  Think pizza or grilled cheese or anything else hearty and delicious.  Then my mom said she found a recipe for Pizza Pinwheels.  I was sold!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Nancy's Crock Pot Italian Beef

My younger brother, Robert, came home on Thursday for his Fall Break from Miami University.  I was so happy to see him, but was even happier that we get to spend time together as a family the whole weekend!  In the Schill household, family time = bonding over funny stories, scary movies and copious amounts of food.  We kicked off the weekend right with my mom's recipe for crock pot Italian beef.  It tasted delicious, just like our favorite kind we eat at Portillo's in Chicago!  All it takes is 15 minutes of prep time before you leave for work, and a little fun crafting the sandwiches with fix-ins like spicy giardiniera or banana peppers right before you eat.  So. Delicious.  And perfect for football weather!  I'm happy to feature my first guest recipe on No Place Like (O)Home...she did a great job with the pictures!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Rosemary Garlic Focaccia Bread

Focaccia bread has always been near and dear to my heart because it was my favorite food when i studied in Italy almost 4 years ago.  It wasn't just an "oh, I l always had a side of focaccia bread with my pasta" type of love.  I'm talking I ate more focaccia bread than I did spaghetti, croissants and gelato combined.  At this point, I like to consider myself a connoisseur, so it's hard to find a truly authentic recipe in America.  Lucky for you guys, I've been researching different recipes on Italian websites, and this is as close to the real thing as I can get.  It's surprisingly easy to make yourself, but just make sure you clear out your afternoon because the process is a little lengthy with the time needed for the dough to rise.  It worked perfectly with my massive baking day last Sunday!  I made the bread dough before I started my butternut squash soup and apple crisp, and whipped up the other recipes while this was rising!  It was a heavenly trio to say the least!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Autumn Favorites

Howie's parents came to visit over the weekend, and we had the best time taking them apple picking out in the country!  We went to Burnham Orchards, an apple farm in Berlin Heights, OH, a little southwest of Vermilion.  You pay $16.00 for 1/2 bushel, and literally can squeeze 50 apples inside of it!  Obviously I've been eating them for snacks, but I LOVE trying to cook with fresh produce.  I made the epitome of a fall meal: butternut squash soup, garlic rosemary focaccia bread and apple crisp.  Surprisingly, both the apple crisp AND the butternut squash soup use apples!  But the thing I like most?  How easy it is to make them!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

Over the weekend, Howie's parents were in town, and we thought of taking them to a picnic lunch at Huntington Beach since they had never been there before.  It was also 72 degrees, sunny and the leaves were beginning to change...that perfect combination just doesn't happen in Cleveland!  We planned on picking up some subs along the way, but I wanted to pack a quick dessert to bring so we can have something sweet at the end of lunch.  I was planning on just throwing a quick batch of box brownies into the oven after my morning boxing class, but I spontaneously invented peanut butter cup brownies!  

Monday, September 22, 2014

Breakfast Power Smoothies

So I totally love everything about Cleveland...except the east side.  The traffic, the fact that you can't get from point A to point B without going 4 miles out of the way via winding roads, the fact that the highways somehow failed to connect to any of the important areas, did I mention TRAFFIC?  Clearly I've been a self-proclaimed west-sider for life (with the exception of an occasional hike or a Nordstrom adventure).  But then I landed this awesome design job in Solon.  Karma sucks.  It's a tough life making the 55 minute trek in the morning, so I basically attempt to wake up as late as possible while still looking presentable.  I started making these incredible breakfast smoothies so I can bring my meal on the go, and I realized I was officially addicted when I started making them on weekend mornings when I was in no rush to get anywhere.  It's nutrition in a cup, and so refreshing!!  Especially paired with a sunny Saturday morning and a brand new issue of Travel & Leisure magazine (with Firenze on the cover nonetheless)!  Try making it yourself, and be sure to experiment with the fruit you add too!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Care Package Cookies

My younger brother, Robert, was having a tough week at Miami.  He's double majoring in Finance and Accounting, and the Farmer School of Business was totally kicking his butt between exams, assignments and the career fair this week.  It basically meant a whole lot less partying, and way more studying.  I remember how much the care packages my mom sent me filled with baked goods or Starbucks gift cards cheered me up during undergrad, so I wanted to do the same for him.  I baked him one of his favorites, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and filled the rest of the package up with enough candy to put him in a sugar coma! 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Hump Day Mojitos!

The weather was rainy, the work week seemed to be taking forever, and my mom had an abundance of fresh mint in her garden. We decided to make the best of a Wednesday night by concocting delicious mojitos using the sweet mint, sour limes, fizzy club soda, and of course, good old Barcardi.  Pairing our drinks with steak fajitas and homemade guacamole?? Our girls night in couldn't be better!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Bisque

It finally felt like fall yesterday!  Yes, I'm one of the weirdos that actually prefers sweater weather over the 80 degree days.  In honor of the first chilly (and rainy) day of September, Howie and I both thought it was appropriate to make a classic cold weather dish: grilled cheese sandwiches and a hearty soup.  We spent a little too long debating what kind of soup to make, but decided that the prerequisites were that it had to be a) thick b) filling c) ideally include some veggies (since soup is the only way Howie can eat them) and d) taste good with grilled cheese.  We ended up choosing one of my favorite homemade soups, a roasted red pepper tomato bisque that my mom started making a few years ago.  The creamy, herb-filled soup paired with the crunchy grilled cheese paninis that Howie made was a truly unbeatable combo!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Summer Tomato Favorites

In addition to leaving Buffalo with some great memories from the weekend, Howie's mom sent me home with almost 5 lb.s of beautiful tomatoes fresh-off-the-vine from her garden.  I gladly accepted her offer, but quickly realized that this pile of tomatoes was more than I could ever need for sandwiches or salads in the week or so that they would stay fresh.  What did I do to solve the problem?  It was a no brainer!  I made a huge batch of homemade tomato sauce with fresh basil, garlic, onions, herbs - all of the Italian classics.  I even reserved some and used it for homemade bruschetta!  You gotta try my recipes while they're still in season...the end of summer couldn't taste better!

If you made the homemade tomato sauce...skip the whole first half of the bruschetta recipe before the French bread is involved.  The sauce does double duty!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Wedding Shower Munchies

I don't know about you, but my Labor Day weekend was a blast!  I was lucky enough to spend a few days in Buffalo for  Howie's sister Brenna's wedding shower and bachelorette party.  We had the best time catching up with friends and family over great food and games during the day, and partying with the girls til the wee hours of the night.  Since I couldn't bring much besides my dancing shoes to the bachelorette party, I volunteered to bring a few items to the shower earlier in the day, and they were a total hit!  Well, my broccoli slaw salad and cookies are always a hit...but the 5 types of cookies totally sent it over the top! Unfortunately, I didn't take step-by-step photos like I usually do - just a beautiful chocolate walnut coconut cookie fresh out of the oven (now how bad is that??)- but everyone was asking for the recipes, so here they are!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Western Breakfast Strata

I graduated with my Master of Architecture this past Saturday!  I was so excited for the day to finally arrive, and wanted to make a special breakfast to celebrate the big day!  I didn't want to make just any ordinary breakfast, I wanted to try something completely I decided to turn my favorite breakfast - western omelette with toast and a side of home fries - into a single breakfast strata that is out of this world delicious!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Peach Mango Sangria

There's nothing I love more than a tasty cocktail at the end of a hot summer day.  One that uses the fresh peaches that are in season right now?  Even better.  I promise this summery peach mango sangria will not disappoint!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Slow Cooker Stuffed Pepper Soup with Homemade Croutons

I know it's the middle of August, but for some reason, I had the biggest craving for stuffed peppers this week!  I'm not sure if it's because the summer green bell peppers are PERFECT right now, or if packing up my sweaters and coats for my move in 2 short weeks is secretly making me excited for those cool fall days.  What I didn't have time for this week was spending a couple hours at dinner time preparing the peppers, baking them and making a tomato sauce to serve on the side.  So I decided to get creative and turn the dish I've been craving into a crock pot stuffed pepper soup.  All you need is 20 minutes of prep time, 8 hours of daytime activities (like that's hard to find!), and an extra twenty minutes to finish off the dish with homemade croutons and a little salad.  I don't care if it's 80 degrees out, this is just plain old delicious!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Peanut Butter Chip Banana Bars

I'm on a serious mission to find creative ways to use my entire banana graveyard by the time I move out in 3 short weeks. For those of you that don't know what a banana graveyard is, it's the lonely top shelf of my freezer home to half a dozen ripe bananas that are begging to be incorporated into baked goods.  They actually look dead because of the dark brown color they turn when they freeze.  No matter how hard I try to bake banana things, the collection seems to keep growing.  Though I pride myself on my banana bread recipe, I'm bored of baking the same loaf and having it go stale after one day in the summer (thank you Lake Erie humidity!).  I did, however, come up with a new recipe that I'm really excited about: peanut butter chip banana bars.  It's pretty great that I came up with a new way to use my banana graveyard, even more great that they taste delicious, but fantastic that they rely on peanut butter and banana, my favorite flavor combination on earth!!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Blueberry Banana Streusel Muffins

Today is the big moving day from Tremont to Lakewood for Howie and his 2 roommates!  Since I know I won't be much assistance with the heavy lifting, I decided to use my real skills to do my share for the day: baking!  My blueberry banana streusel muffins are soft and fluffy, with a slight tartness from the blueberries balanced out by a crunchy, buttery cinnamon topping.  I know the guys are going to love them...especially considering all their food is packed away in boxes!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Father's Day Weekend

For some reason, it seems like dads are the hardest people to pick out gifts for!  I solved this issue early by figuring out what I was going to do for Father's Day a couple of months ago when my dad was raving about a chimichurri sauce served with dinner at an Argentinian client's home.  I wanted to make a big batch of it myself to give him!  In case you don't know, chimichurri is a very salty green sauce made with fresh oregano, parsley, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, red pepper flakes.  It's not used as a marinade, but as a dipping sauce for grilled meat, especially steak and pork; it went perfectly with the grilled pork tenderloin we made for dinner that night.  For dessert, I made a chocolate raspberry trifle filled with moist brownies, chocolate mousse and fresh raspberries.  Summer cooking can't get much better!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Smoothies

I had the pleasure of getting mouth surgery yesterday morning, which has resulted in a liquid diet for the next 4-5 days.  It's the worst.  I made a promise to myself that I will try to follow these instructions for at least 2-3 days, but I'm going nuts already considering the fact that dairy upsets my stomach and they said no hot foods.  What happened to soup and oatmeal being my Plan A?!?!  Clearly I had to get creative to avoid not eating altogether, so I created a delicious Plan B.  My peanut butter banana oatmeal smoothies are not only filling, but taste like a dessert!  And did I mention that they're less than 400 calories (thank you almond milk!); this beats my favorite Mitchell's PB Banana Smoothies by a long shot!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Cleveland Art Panels

I got a new hobby...painting!  Actually, I'm pretty proud of myself that I found an activity I enjoy that doesn't involve cooking or working out.  This idea all started when Howie and I were in Seattle.  We were walking around the artsy part of Pike's Place Market and saw some incredible wood panels that had a painted background with buildings and skylines carved in using a CNC router.  Last weekend, we tried replicating them on our own, swapping Cleveland for Seattle and subtracting the CNC routing part.  I loved every minute of it, which is surprising since I usually prefer drawing with ink or graphite over painting.  

Friday, June 6, 2014

Island Cookies

For my final studio project, I'm designing a food television production studio on the Case Western Reserve University campus.  My 3-week programming phase of the project involved so much research on food, that I kind of felt obligated to bring a little portion of the discipline to my studio.  I decided to bake one of my favorite sweets, island cookies.  The smooth white chocolate, warm pecan flavor and hints of coconut make for a perfect summertime treat!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Mediterranean Night!

I'll have to admit, sometimes I might have a minor tendency to stick too close to my comfort zone with cooking.  This comfort zone includes but is not limited to: chicken, potatoes, rice, squash, peppers, garlic, oregano and basil.  I can't help it if I know what I like!  I decided it was about time I break my usual routine and try to make something I've never attempted before...Mediterranean.  After scouring the internet researching traditional Greek and Mediterranean spices, I dove right in and came up with my own chicken souvlaki recipe with couscous, toasted pita bread and spinach salad.  After seeing how good it tasted (on the first try nonetheless), I'm definitely stepping out of my comfort zone more often!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day Weekend!

Sunshine, barbecues, bonfires, picnics, food, friends, family and more sunshine...Memorial Day Weekend 2014 has possibly been the best yet!  Well, any weekend that gives me a chance to spend almost 30 hours outside in 80 degree sunny weather (in Ohio nonetheless) is fine by me.  All of these fun social activities meant lots and lots of cooking, which made the weekend even better!  I think the two biggest hits were the berry cobbler I made for my family cookout in Westlake on Sunday, and the homemade guacamole I made for the picnic at Edgewater Park Monday afternoon!  I'm definitely not waiting until next Memorial Day to try these out again!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Cinco De Mayo Enchiladas

Hola!  I felt like getting into the spirit of Cinco de Mayo a couple of days early on Saturday by making chicken enchiladas for Howie and I for dinner.  Actually, I mostly had a taste for chicken enchiladas...and realized as I was buying the ingredients that this would make a perfect Cinco de Mayo blog post.  They were so good that they're sure to bring a little bit of Mexico to your kitchen any time of the year!

Friday, May 2, 2014

"Dazzling" Cookie Brownies

Dazzle the District is finally here!  I'm so excited to see all the of the lights, signs and, of course, the chandelier, the lit up!  Disclaimer: I may actually be even more excited to see an end to the traffic delays, blocked roads and 24-construction that I've heard from my apartment since early March?  After the Hot Chelle Rae concert and illuminating ceremony, we're of course going to throw an after party!  I couldn't decide if I wanted to bring cookies or brownies, so naturally I decided to combine both into a sinfully sweet dessert that I'm calling "dazzling" cookie brownies.  It's a little tacky with the stars, but so is a 25' diameter outdoor chandelier dangling over an intersection.  

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Brunch

Happy Easter!  I hope everyone is enjoying the beautiful sunshine and celebrating the holiday with family, friends and of course, food!  Howie and I's day got off to a bit of a rocky start when the mass time at St. John Cantius Church in Tremont randomly changed for Easter Sunday, but at least we got a chance to catch a glimpse of the (empty) interior!  The architecture of the nave was incredible, and brought back many memories of the massive cathedrals that I visited throughout Europe while I studied abroad in Italy.  Though we were a little bummed, especially after our half hour attempt of driving to every church in the Tremont/Ohio city area looking for a Catholic mass turned into an epic failure, we at least had a delicious brunch that made up for it!  Howie was in charge of the peach-orange-mango mimosas, and I made a savory breakfast skillet with sausage, homemade home fries, peppers, onions, egg and cheese!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Chinese Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Though my checkbook has apparently thought it's been spring since sundresses started coming out in February, it seems like the weather is finally catching up!  But sadly, warm weather means it's also that time to say goodbye to the hearty winter recipes that can be camouflaged by a sweater, and hellooooo to delicious yet satisfying lighter recipes.  Tonight for dinner I tested out Chinese Chicken Lettuce Wraps, a new recipe I've been thinking about for the last few weeks.  I blended a ton of bold flavors to create a healthy meal with an Asian twist that won't let you feel like you're missing out on anything!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Best Banana Bread...Ever

The recipe I'm about to share with you is a very special one.  I've actually been sitting on my couch for the last twenty minutes debating if I should share it publicly because it's taken so long for me to make it perfect...but the smell of warm banana bread with a hint of cinnamon is wafting into my living room and bringing out my soft side, and I feel like it would be morally unjust not to spread the happiness that this recipe brings around to everyone!  I'm going to start by saying that banana bread is one of my all-time favorite desserts.  It's just so comforting, light, fluffy, it somehow feels healthy (even though it isn't), and tastes great anytime of the day, even for breakfast!  Usually, I make a recipe once, and if I like it, and then other people like it, I consider it a keeper.  This recipe, however, is a combination of 2 family recipes, a helpful tip from my friend's mom, and a new twist I added on my own...COCONUT!  I've baked this recipe close to a hundred times, experimenting with different additions each time, and can honestly say it's finally perfect...every single batch I share with people yields at least one response saying "this is the best banana bread I've ever had!"

Monday, March 24, 2014

Slow Cooker Sunday

MIDTERMS ARE OVER!  I don't even think that all caps does that statement justice.  School and work have been so busy that I haven't gotten to post anything this month, so I wanted to make a really special dinner for a relaxing Sunday night and practice my Crock Pot skills.  I made Howie and I a deliciously tender beef pot roast with potatoes, veggies, and a side of flaky biscuits.  I'll admit, it's definitely a winter dish, but it was also snowing yesterday, so I think it's justified.  And who wouldn't pair this comfort meal with a night that involved making (non-visual) progress on our 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle and watching American Hustle.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Birthday Brunch!

This week is very special because my best friend and mom is turning the big 5-0 on Thursday!  We obviously had to commence the festivities the weekend before her birthday, so we decided to have a girls day complete with brunch, shopping, and coffee.  We started the day off right by ordering delicious mango mimosas at Press Wine Bar in Tremont.  They were so good that we felt obligated to get a second round during our's a celebration week! 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Valentine's Day!

Valentine's Day was great this year because it was full of surprises!  Howie and I tried Chinato, a fantastic East 4th Street restaurant that I hadn't been to before, a new type of wine, French Pinot Noir, which I didn't know existed, a new brand of chocolate from Lilly Handmade Chocolates in Tremont, and a new dessert recipe I invented: Baileys-infused chocolate cake with a chocolate mocha mouse and Heath bar bits.  Any day that involves you and a loved one consuming Italian food, wine, chocolate, and then more chocolate, coffee, and Baileys afterwards is bound to be an excellent day!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sweets For Your Sweetie

Valentine's Day has always been one of my favorite holidays.  I love the romantic dinners, flowers, and cards...but my favorite part is without a doubt eating as many sweets as my heart desires for the entire day!  My love for this day and all of the sweets that go along with it began when I was younger.  My mom would bake my brother and I our own massive cookie hearts in our favorite type of dough, and it made me look forward to the holiday every year.  Now that I'm older, I like to bake all the people that are special to me something delicious to carry on the tradition for Valentine's Day.  I promise my Italian Buckeyes and Nutella Heart Cookies are better than any storebought chocolates!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Tortellini Soup

If you saw my last blog pot, you can imagine that I was looking forward to a Superbowl Sunday filled with snacks, beer, and friends.  But by the time the weekend got underway, Howie and I were both feeling under the weather.  Since we didn't want to go anywhere, we made the best of a bad situation and stayed in with all of the essentials: cable, big bowls of tortellini soup, cheesy garlic bread, and Blue Moon with gigantic oranges to get some Vitamin C.  Unlike many soups, this tortellini soup can be made in less than 45 minutes, and always hits the spot on a cold winter night (the leftovers hit the spot anytime...the recipe tastes even better the second day)!  The only thing that could have made the night better would be a football game with 2 teams playing well!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Superbowl Sunday Snacks

It's finally Superbowl Weekend!  I may seem excited, but my dirty little secret is that I really don't like watching football very much.  I do, however, enjoy the social aspects of the game...the tailgating, the talking during commercials, a good beer, and of course, the food!!   Everybody has been taking time to debate betting on the Seahawks or Broncos, but have you considered the all-important snacks?  I have some great recipes that will make game day even better.  Crispy Baked Potato skins, a healthy-but-delicious Southwestern Bean Salsa, and the classic Buffalo Chicken Dip will definitely take your party to the next level!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Peanut Butter Cookies!

This past Saturday, Cleveland greeted me with snow, wind, sub-zero temperatures, and gray skies yet again!  I feel like I've been snowed in since the holidays!  It didn't help that most of friends weren't around because they were busy doing a design competition.  After catching up on this week's TV shows and homework, I decided to surprise them with some cookies to help them get through the last 24 hours of the competition.  They've been staying up late all week, so I wanted a dessert that gave them a little sugar, a little protein, and a little motivation to pull through.  PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES!  Did I even need to say anything else after the word "peanut butter?"  This recipe has been my favorite cookie to make since I started baking with my mom as a little girl, and I'm fairly positive it's everybody's favorite cookie to eat as well!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Date Night In University Circle and Little Italy

3 years ago, a boy named Howie that I had only known a couple of weeks took me to a fancy Italian restaurant near the central market in Florence, and asked me to be his girlfriend.  Try topping that kind of experience every year for your anniversary!  Since a trip to Tuscany wasn't in the near future, we figured a little art and a lot of Italian food would be the next best thing.  We took advantage of the later hours at the Cleveland Museum of Art on Friday nights, and planned a trip to Little Italy for dinner afterwards! While the art was pretty spectacular, I think my favorite part was the architecture of the atrium.  If you've only visited during the day, I would recommend going again at night because it was a completely different experience!