Friday, July 31, 2009

Love the Meatloaf

The Mr.'s grandmother gave us a crop of zucchini from her garden (before you suggest it, she also gave us three loaves of zucchini bread). Along with the zucchini, we also received some raspberries, tomatoes, and three big bags of her famous spaetzle. Because I hate to see things go to waste, I'm on a quest to use it all.

So, introducing dinner...
meatloaf, breaded parmesan zucchini, and spaetzle

Breaded Parmesan Zucchini

Serves 2

One smaller-sized zucchini, cut into slices
1 T. olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Bread crumbs
Italian seasoning
Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat olive oil in a skillet (oven safe, ideally) over medium-high heat. Add zucchini slices and season with salt and pepper. Stirring and flipping occasionally, cook for 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and sprinkle with bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, and Italian seasoning. Place in oven to melt cheese and warm through.


Makes 4 mini meatloaves

I don't know what it is about meatloaf, but I really (really) like it.

2 lbs ground beef
1 c. shredded cheddar
1 packet onion soup mix
1/2 onion, chopped
2 eggs
3/4 c. water
1/3 c. ketchup
3/4 c. bread crumbs
2-4 slices of bacon, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Add all ingredients, except bacon, into a bowl and mix until evenly distributed.
Form into 4 mini meatloaves (I typically make 2 slightly larger for The Mr. and 2 slightly smaller for The Little Lady).
Criss cross two slices (or one slice, halved) of bacon overtop of each meatloaf, so that ends, if long enough, are underneath.
Place in baking pan and bake for 1 hour.

A Note From The LL: I typically bake two and freeze two (wrapped tightly in plastic wrap), which makes for an easy meal down the road.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Summer Citrus Muffin

Summer Citrus Muffins

Makes 40 mini muffins

I like taking mini muffins places, because they get eaten faster. In my experience, people (mostly women) are more likely to eat something small than have to "commit" to a whole muffin.

2 c. all -purpose flour
1-1/2 c. sugar
1/3 t. baking soda
1/3 t. salt
3 eggs
3/4 c. sour cream
3/4 c. butter, melted
1 T. lemon and/or lime juice (I used lime)

1/3 c. flour
1/3 c. sugar
3 T. butter

1/4 c. lemon and/or lime juice (I used lime)
3 T. sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, sour cream, butter, and juice. Stir into dry mixture just until moistened. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups three-fourths full.
In a small bowl, make streusel topping by combining the flour and sugar; cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over batter.
Bake for 12 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes and then remove from pans to a wire rack. In a small bowl, whisk glaze ingredients; drizzle over warm muffins.

A Tip From The Little Lady: Rather than making a mess of your countertop during the glazing process, place wire rack over sink so that any excess glaze drips through.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Moosehead Saloon

Moosehead Saloon
694 Dover Center Road
Westlake, Ohio

What I ate:
BLT Salad, $9.49

Moosehead is located on Dover Center Road, just south of the railroad tracks from Bay Village, and next to Ironwood Cafe. It's a great place for lunch, a great place for dinner, and a great place for appetizers and drinks with friends. During the warmer months, the outdoor patio offers a nice place to sit. It's not that big (nor is the restaurant itself), but it's private (tall fences), calming (there's a trickling wall of water), and comfortable (umbrellas to block the sun).
I was meeting a friend for lunch, so during the few minutes I had to kill, I snapped a picture of the menu.
The website has been under construction for a while now, so you won't be finding a clearer version there. As you can see, there are tons of choices -- burgers, sandwiches, salads, soups, entrees, pub food, etc., etc., etc. It's almost overwhelming. BUT, once you've been there a few times, you come to realize that almost every choice is a good choice. I hear all sorts of raves about this little gem of a place.

I fell into routine and got the same thing I typically order... the BLT salad. I was so excited when it arrived that I forgot to snap a picture, but trust me, it's yummy. It's "good" lettuce, topped with just-cooked bacon (no bacon bits here!), blue cheese, tomatoes (both chopped and cherry), and a few halved, then grilled red potatoes. Basically, after you douse it with ranch dressing, it's not so much a salad that one watching their weight would order. But it's definitely a salad that leaves you satisfied. I love those bites of ranch-covered bacon, blue cheese, tomato, and a leaf or two of lettuce.

There's a turkey burger on the menu that calls my name every time I'm there, but I've yet to order it. Something about cream cheese and dried cherries on top. Next time, Little Lady, next time...

If you're looking for a friendly place to grab a good sandwich, head to Moosehead. I think you'll be pleased.

Moosehead Saloon's sister restaurant, Moosehead Hoof and Ladder, is located in Olmsted Falls.

Panini's Bar and Grill

Panini's Bar and Grill
23800 Detroit Road
Westlake, Ohio

What I ate:
Triple Grilled Cheese; Melted American, provolone & mozzarella with tomato & Applewood bacon on grilled "Panini" bread, $4.99

What I drank:
Glass of their house Pinot Grigio, $5
Glass of their house Sauvignon Blanc, $5
A girlfriend and I decided to check out Panini's newest location, in Westlake, on the corner of Clague and Detroit Roads. Panini's has been a Cleveland standby since 1986, so most people are familiar with its beer, pizza, and famous "overstuffed sandwiches." I think this was the first time that I had gone there solely for the food. Each and every time in the past had been built around a night out or a Tribe game.

The Westlake location offers your typical bar atmosphere inside - nothing fancy, but a great place to grab dinner and few drinks while catching a sporting event on one of their many TVs. The patio, on the other hand, is enormous, spacious, and offers plenty of seating. I'll just feel bad when Cleveland winter arrives in October and shuts the place down. There's a big bar in the middle of the patio, and a variety of high-top and standard tables dotted throughout.

The food was classic bar and grill. I considered getting an overstuffed sandwich, but they always appear so daunting. And I wasn't really in the mood to a) stuff myself and b) make a huge mess while trying to eat it. Instead, I was drawn toward the Triple Grilled Cheese (sold by the applewood bacon and tomato) and mmm, mmm it was classic comfort. The bread was thick, perfectly toasty, and extra buttery. The three different cheeses worked well together, but it was definitely the bacon and tomato that made the sandwich for me.

The Little Lady's friend got the turkey melt, also jazzed up with some applewood bacon.

The service was what you'd expect at a bar and grill, but our server was attentive, patient when we took forever to even look at the menu, and friendly.

There are plenty of Panini's locations throughout Cleveland, and a few down in Columbus. I'd return to the Westlake location for another meal out on the patio, or during football season, heading inside as an alternative to BW3s.

Vision in White

Vision in White by Nora Roberts

My mom got this book as a pre-wedding present, with the thought that it could be a great honeymoon read. It traveled to Grand Cayman with me, and was read cover to cover. It's definitely "fluff" and a "beach read" and the written version of a "chick flick," but it kept me entertained. And, really, after a busy wedding weekend, it was just what I needed.
Vision in White is the first in a bride quartet about four girlfriends who have grown up together and now take on different roles in "Vows," their wedding business. There's the wedding planner and bookkeeper, the cake baker, the florist, and the photographer. This first book focuses on the photographer, and each of the next three will focus on one of the other girls.
Yes, it's the book that was advertised on in the video section. Yes, it uses acronyms like MOH and BM. And yes, they are overused. Yes, it's kinda silly at times.
The next book in the series, Bed of Roses, doesn't come until late fall. Will I read it? Probably. Will I claim it as one of the best books ever written? Probably not.
If you're looking for an easy-to-read book and enjoy the different aspects of wedding planning, pick it up. If you're looking for a deep, life-changing book, keep on browsing.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

1-2-3 Easy Mashed Potatoes

Mashed Potatoes

Serves 2

2 potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
1 T. sour cream
2 T. butter
3 T. shredded parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Place potatoes in a saucepan and fill with enough water to cover. Salt water and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium heat and let simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender. Drain potatoes and return to pan. Add sour cream, butter, cheese, salt, and pepper, and mash using a potato masher. Serve and enjoy!
A note from The Little Lady: This is a basic recipe and easy to experiment with. Add herbs, use olive oil in place of the butter, omit or use a different kind of cheese, stir in bacon, etc.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Homemade Ice Cream Cake

For The Mr.'s birthday last March, he requested ice cream cake. I knew I could've gone out and bought one, but I wanted to make one myself. And since The Mr. isn't too picky about his sweets (he probably would've been fine without a birthday cake at all had I not insisted he have one), I knew I'd be okay as long as I included some of his favorite flavors.
We were leaving on a surprise birthday trip to Chicago a few days later, so I made a small cake that would be perfect for a few days of enjoyment.
This was no fancy cake, but we both agreed it tasted good enough for a happy birthday.

One row (from standard package) of Oreo cookies, crushed
Hot fudge sauce
Chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream (or another flavor or your choice)
Cool Whip

Line a mini loaf pan with plastic wrap or wax paper. Mix crushed Oreos with enough hot fudge sauce to hold it all together. Use half of Oreo/fudge mixture to create first layer in loaf pan. Follow with additional fudge sauce (if desired), layer of ice cream, a second layer of Oreo and fudge, and top it off with a final layer of ice cream.
Cover with plastic wrap and freeze overnight.
Invert onto serving plate, remove plastic wrap/wax paper, and "frost" with Cool Whip.
Decorate with sprinkles, if desired.
Return to freezer until ready to serve.

Whiskey Sour

Whiskey Sour
Makes 2 drinks.
It doesn't lie... it's pretty sour, but I liked it a lot. I have only recently become enough of a "fan" of whiskey to drink it on occasion, and I attribute it to the fact that it's my husband's favorite, but this was the first drink that made me actually appreciate it (and drink without grimacing).

4 measures whiskey
2 measures lemon and/or lime juice
1 tsp. powdered sugar
maraschino cherry, for garnish

Shake lemon/lime juice, whiskey, and sugar over ice and strain into cocktail glasses. Garnish with a cherry.

A note from The Little Lady: we used the juice from two lemons and one lime, which gave us a little over 3 ounces.

Tremont Tap House

Tremont TapHouse
2572 Scranton Road
Cleveland, Ohio

What we drank:
The Little Lady had...
Duvel Green Belgian Ale, $7.5 ($6 happy hour)
Ommegang Rare Vos Belgium Ale, $5.50
The Mr. had...
Weinstephaner Hefe Weissbier, $5.5 ($4 happy hour)
Bear Republic Racer 5, $5.50

What we ate:
I Love Moule Frittes; PEI Mussels & Fries, Blue Cheese, Bacon, Shallots, Garlic, Vino Blanc, $12

The Little Lady had...
Chicken Foccacia; banana pepper butter, white cheddar, $10

The Mr. had...
Japanese Noodle Salad; chicken, sake vinaigrette, peanut sauce, ginger, $12

For a Friday night dinner date, The Mr. and I headed down to Tremont. Boosting itself as Cleveland's first gastropub, The Tremont TapHouse is modeled after casual London pubs that serve upscale cuisine, while still offering a wide variety of beers and wines. There are over 100 beers to choose from (24 of which are on tap) and the food is described as "creative, yet approachable cuisine." It was a beautiful night, so we were willing to wait a bit for a patio table. Since happy hour prices were available until 7pm, we sat at the bar and enjoyed a beer while we waited. The bartenders were extra friendly and one even took the time to get another bar chair from across the room so that we could both sit. Our table was ready quicker than we thought, and we headed out where each table had an umbrella to block the bright setting sun... especially convenient since I had forgotten my sunglasses!

One of the reasons we went was so that The Mr. could try the beer cheese soup, but upon hearing our server's recommendations (I love when servers have an opinion about the menu!), he asked me if instead of the soup, the two of us should split the mussels! I was shocked! The Mr. does not typically like shellfish. I eat just about anything, and I had never had mussels, so I was up for it too. Bring on the mussels!

I liked it a lot... the bacon and blue cheese... mmm...The Mr. didn't eat quite as many mussels, but I was pleased that he was breaking out of his shell (pun intended).
We ordered a second round of beers, as well as our entree selections.

The LL's Chicken Focaccia:
The Mr.'s Japanese Noodle Salad:

My chicken sandwich was average. It tasted like something I could get anywhere. It was good, but I probably wouldn't recommend unless you're looking for something basic... and messy, because it was. The fries were good, and generously flavored with sea salt. I love salty fries.

The Mr.'s dish was tasty. He let me steal a few bites and it was great! Lots of flavor in a light, but satisfying meal. I loved the roasted peanuts and scallions on top.

I was very impressed with the service. The bartenders were friendly and accommodating and our server was great at making recommendations. It was obvious that he was knowledgable about the food and beverage selections. He was attentive to our needs, and overall, just a nice, fun guy.

I would definitely return to Tremont TapHouse, and next time I would like to order a few things off the small plates section of the menu: possibly Chorizo Tacos, Short Rib Sliders, or Blackened Scallops. I also saw signs advertising Beer Tasting Dinners that they host -- sounds like fun!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Bar Symon

Bar Symon
32858 Walker Road
Avon Lake, Ohio

What I drank:
1 glass of Pinot Grigio, $6 (forget exact brand, but it's the only pinot grigio by the glass)
1 glass of Riondo Pink Prosecco Raboso, $6

What I ate:
Crispy Fried Organic Chicken; truffle honey and rosemary, $15
Lola Fries with Rosemary

Iron Chef and Clevelander, Michael Symon, has had such success with restaurants Lola and Lolita that I was excited to try out his new, more casual dining spot, Bar Symon. I was floored by how packed the place was on a weeknight at 6pm, and will know to expect a wait on return visits. Or at least wait until the initial rush of patrons dies down (doors opened on June 29).

I probably should've ordered beer (they have 40 on tap), but the bar was packed and I felt like I needed to order fast. I'll be ready with a brew order next time. The Pinot Grigio was standard and tasty, and the Riondo Pink Prosecco was served in a cute mini bottle that you could pour yourself. Confession: I like proseccco, but I think the main reason I ordered it was because I liked the look of the little bottle.

After ordering entrees, we were given what they called "tear and share" bread. Basically, a crusty loaf of italian bread to be "torn" and "shared" amongst the table. The butter slab, topped with salt, that was served with the bread tasted like it had to have been local - so fresh!
I don't think I've ever ordered fried chicken at a restaurant, but the truffle honey and rosemary is what sold me. Not only was it was good, but I was given about a whole chicken! Four huge pieces that would've been a lot for even the biggest appetite. Tasted kinda like a gourmet version of McD's nuggets and honey.

(Thanks for the pictures Heidi!)

With all the entrees, you are given the choice of one side. I picked fries, because, let's be honest, they are typically a good choice. Lola Fries are thin, shoestring-style french fries flavored with rosemary. They are served with "Lola Ketchup," which doesn't really taste like ketchup at all. They should call it "Lola Salsa." I asked for some "regular" ketchup though, and my tummy was pleased. Symon Burger ($9) with Lola Fries:

I was also able to sneak a taste of the Rosemary, Goat Cheese, and Chicken Mac and Cheese ($14). Yum! A rich, creamy white sauce with lots of flavor. Upon return, I'd consider ordering this.

The service was not that great. Servers seemed a little frazzled, there were a few mix-ups (granted, we had a large table), and things moved s l o w l y. I'll chalk it up to up to the fact that the place is still new, and I suppose it is called BAR Symon and then maybe superb service shouldn't really be expected. I'd hope things would run a little smoother next time though.
Bar Symon takes classic favorites that you might not consider ordering at a restaurant and jazzes them up to be Michael Symon worthy. For the cost, I think it's a great option. You're basically getting Max and Erma's prices for Michael Symon's meals. Now, the question is, are you willing to wait a few hours for a table?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

When in Rome...

What's Layered Mexican Chicken without an appropriate drink to tagalong?

it's not the slushy kind OR the kind on the rocks.
it's a special kind... and by special, I mean strong.
sip slowly.

Makes 1 drink.

3 parts white tequila
1 part triple sec
1 part fresh-squeezed lime juice
lime for garnish

Rim margarita glass with salt. Into a cocktail shaker, add ice cubes, tequila, triple sec, and lime juice. Shake, shake, shake! Shake, shake, shake! Shake your... err... just shake it, dump it, and garnish with a lime wedge.
And like I said, sip slowly. This baby's gotta bite!
The little lady's translation: "I hated it at first because it was too strong. But by the end, it was actually quite good!"

Layered Mexican Chicken

Layered Mexican Chicken

Makes 2 meals (one now, one freezer) for 2 people each; or one meal for 3-4 people

I originally got this recipe from another internet recipe grouping (thanks Jessica!) and have adapted it a little bit. If you use reduced fat sour cream and cheese, it follows the original recipe, which is WW friendly.

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 15-oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained (I don't always rinse mine and it still turns out fine)
1.5 c. sour cream
1 c. shredded mexican cheese
1 4-oz. can chopped green chilis (or 2 cans for extra flavor)
black pepper
2-3 medium tortillas
salsa and additional sour cream, if desired

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook and shred chicken. When cool, transfer chicken to a large bowl with beans, sour cream, cheese, chilis, and pepper. Mix well. Spray 2 standard loaf pans (or one 8x8 cooking pan) with nonstick spray. Cover the bottom of each pan with 1/2 tortilla (or 1 tortilla for 8x8). Next, add a layer of the chicken mixture, then another layer of tortilla, and finish with chicken. Top with a sprinkling of mexican cheese (you can do this before baking or upon serving). Cover with foil and bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until warm and bubbly. Serve with salsa and sour cream, if desired. Oh, and chips and dip.

A Note From The Little Lady: *If you would like to freeze the second loaf pan for later, cover it first with saran wrap (I push it down so it's touching, and therefore better protecting from freezer burn) and then foil. When ready to use, thaw overnight in refrigerator, REMOVE PLASTIC WRAP, replace foil, and bake as noted above.

It's not the most visually appealing meal, but it tastes good! And even better -- it's easy!


I never thought I'd start a blog, but... whelp... here it is.

Pineapple Grass came to be the title by the musings of a lot of different areas of my brain. First and foremost, the lyric from DMB's song "Tripping Billies" has always been one of those lines in a song that makes me feel good. I've always wanted a pineapple grass bracelet, for no other reason than I think it'd be neat, but I haven't found one yet.

"Remembering once out on the beaches" makes me nostalgic of our honeymoon to Grand Cayman - the origin of the beautiful sunset picture above and where we were able to spend 8 glorious days doing nothing but enjoying being newlyweds. The same song also has the familiar lyrics of "eat, drink, and be merry" which is appropriate since I see this blog focusing a lot on eating, drinking, and merriment, i.e. cooking, baking, entertaining, and enjoying life. I like to eat. I like a good drink. And I like to be merry.

Finally, the pineapple, over the course of social history, has come to express a sense of welcome, good cheer, human warmth and family affection, and I like that. As I look forward to my future as a wife, daughter, mother, sister, and friend, I'd consider it a job well done if I can feel and promote the same things a pineapple suggests.