Downtown Cleveland Restaurant Week 2014

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I have been MIA for the past year and a half and I really don’t have a good excuse.  But, I am happy to be returning to the blogging world and what better way to come back during Cleveland Restaurant week!

Restaurant week is a great opportunity to experience what Cleveland’s booming culinary scene has to offer.  During restaurant week restaurants are offering $30 three-course  dinner menus with some restaurants offering $15 lunch options.

There is still time to join the fun! Restaurant week ends Sunday, March 2, 2014.  Click here to check out the participating restaurants and menu selection! (I recommend you make a reservation)

Jordan and I went to Lola Bistro, located on East 4th Street in downtown Cleveland.  Lola is owned by the famous iron chef and The Chew cast member, Michael Symon.

Jordan and I arrived a few minutes early and waited over at the bar to grab a drink.  One thing that is very different than most restaurants is that you order your drink with an iPad!  Jordan and I found this helpful so that you’re not yelling over someone who is seated at the bar.

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Wine case behind the bar.

 

We were seated on time in a comfortable spot in the restaurant.  We both started out with the mixed greens salad.  For our entrees Jordan tried the Beef Hanger Steak (that came with Lola Fries).  I tried the Scallops (with leek, sweet potato, mustard, and lemon).  Jordan and I were both very impressed with our selections!

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Scallops

For dessert Jordan had the Key Lime Tart and I had the Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding with Salted Carmel Ice Cream (YUM!!).

Jordan and I were very pleased with our restaurant choice for restaurant week.  We always try to participate every year and the past few times Jordan and I walked away disappointed.  Lola is definitely a place we will come back to!

Molly Jean

Melt Bar and Grilled (and the Akron Marathon!)

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This past Saturday I ran the Akron Marathon relay with my co-workers.  The only other “race” I have ever done is the Color Run.  A marathon as big as Akron’s was very new to me!  I am currently training for my first half marathon- which is next weekend!  The Akron Marathon was a great warm-up to what’s to come this Sunday!

The Marathon was so much fun!  I must say that my co-workers are AWESOME!  I don’t know what I would do without them🙂

Here are a few pictures!

Stephanie, Angela, and I before the race!

Angela approaching the finish line!

4/5 of our awesome relay!

The Results!

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After the relay we headed over the Melt Bar and Grilled for a well deserved lunch.  One of my interview questions for where I work now was “Do you like Melt?”  I was also asked if I like to run because it was already decided that they were participating in the Akron Marathon Relay far before I started working.  My answer was “yes!” to both questions of course!

I have eaten at the restaurant multiple times and just have never remembered to take a photo for my blog!

This time I ordered the “Parma, Italy Melt”- crispy breaded chicken breast, sun-dried tomato pesto, roasted garlic, provolone.  It was delicious!

Parma, Italy Melt

I have yet to be disappointed in any of the sandwiches I have tried!  This might actually be my favorite sandwich on the regular menu.  My favorite Melt sandwich over all was this past July’s Melt of the Month- “Fire Cracker Chicken Melt”- blackened chicken breast, grilled pineapple, avocado slice, pepper jack cheese.

Make sure you arrive hungry!! I always go home with the other half of the sandwich.  If you end up taking it home make sure you heat it up in the oven- NOT the microwave.  Or you can always share a sandwich with someone!  The sandwiches also come with plenty of fries and coleslaw!

There are three locations in the Cleveland area: Lakewood, Cleveland Heights, Independence.  There is a 4th location that will be opening up in Mentor by the end of the month!  Be prepared for a wait at all locations– It is definitely worth the wait!

Molly Jean

S’more Treats

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Summer is too short and S’more season was too short for Cleveland’s hot and sticky summer.  Who wants to sit by a fire making s’mores when it’s still 90 degrees outside at 10:00 PM??

Well, here is a treat where you can enjoy the flavor of the s’more all year long!

I found this recipe on Pinterest from “Wanna Be a Country Cleaver” blog.  The recipe is very similar to making Rice Krispie Treats.  I followed the recipe word for word.  My final product does not look the same.  The chocolate chips melted when I added them.  Notsure how to keep the chocolate chips from melting… but it was definitely tasty!!  Click HERE for the recipe.

 

Below is one of my favorite movie scenes!!

Click the image above to watch!

Molly Jean

Chicken Marvalasala and Pappardelle with Rosemary Gravy

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This is a recipe by Rachael Ray’s 30 Minute Meals.  It is a twist on the traditional Chicken Marsala and it is delicious!!

Ingredients

  • 3/4-pound Pappardelle pasta (can substitute fettuccine)
  • Salt, to taste
  • 4 large, thin pieces boneless skinless chicken breasts (pound out to thin)
  • Ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 portobello mushroom caps, sliced 
  • 12 shiitakes, stemmed and sliced
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste, look for this in a tube (it’s easy to store that way)
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock 
  • 2 tablespoons minced rosemary leaves
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 1/2 cup Marsala wine
  • Grated pecorino Romano Cheese (parmesan will work, too)
  • A couple handfuls arugula or baby spinach leaves, thinly sliced

Directions

Put a large pot of water on to boil for the pasta. When it comes up to a boil, salt the water, drop in the pasta, and cook to al dente.

While the pasta is working, season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a large nonstick skillet with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 turns of the pan, over medium to medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the pan and brown lightly on both sides; remove to a platter and cover with foil to hold in heat. To the same skillet, add 2 tablespoons more extra-virgin olive oil and 1 clove garlic. Cook garlic a minute or so, then remove and add the mushrooms. Let the mushrooms brown evenly and become tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

While the mushrooms work, start gravy for pasta. In a deep medium skillet melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add a clove of crushed garlic and cook a couple of minutes then remove. Whisk flour into garlic infused butter. Cook the flour a minute or 2 then whisk in the stock. Add rosemary and whisk in tomato paste and Worcestershire Sauce. Simmer to thicken, 5 minutes. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, to your taste.

To the cooked mushrooms, add capers and Marsala and reduce a minute or so. Add 2 tablespoons butter in small bits to finish sauce and shake the pan to incorporate. Slide the chicken back into sauce and warm.

Drain pasta and toss with sauce and a handful of cheese. Serve pasta alongside Chicken Marvalasala. Scatter arugula or spinach across both the chicken and pasta, to garnish.

 

 

The final product…

 

 

This recipe is perfect for a cool fall night.  ENJOY!

Molly Jean

La Strada

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Groupon provides an excellent opportunity to try restaurant’s that you have not tried before.  I stumbled upon a Groupon for La Strada a couple of months ago and have been eager to try it out! Another restaurant to cross off my list!

La Strada is located in the Gateway district of downtown Cleveland on East 4th st- a street filled with many restaurants and night life.   La Strada is composed of Mediterranean inspired dishes inspired by Italy, Turkey, Morocco, Spain, and Greece.

The restaurant had many large tables.  There were many large parties dining at the restaurant with only a few couples.  Jordan and I were seated upstairs where most of the tables for 2 are located.  The food and atmosphere were great.  The sword fish that I ordered for my main entree was some of the best sword fish I have ever tried!  My only complaint is that there was a major temperature difference between the first and second level.   Jordan and I were uncomfortably warm for the first 10 minutes after being seated, but once we were served our beverage we cooled off a bit.

Check out what I ate below!

 

Appetizer

Buffalo Mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, olive oil, cracked papper, and crostini

Main Course

Fish of the Day- Sword Fish with roasted red pepper puree and roasted vegetables.

 

Complimentary Fruit

Courtesy fruit plate

successful date night!

Molly Jean

Fresh Peach Pie (Betty Crocker)

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Last year at my grandfather’s birthday he said to me “I know you’re supposed to have birthday cake on your birthday, but all I want is a slice of pie.”  So this year I made it happen!  With Ohio peach season nearing the end, it was the perfect time to make a pie!

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My mother has always told me that her Betty Crocker’s Cookbook has the best pie recipes.  I use it to make my homemade apple and pumpkin pie for “friends-giving” hosted by my good friends Rob and Ashley’s.  So I had no choice but to use Betty Crocker’s Cookbook to make my Grandpa’s “Birthday Pie!”

Ingredients:

  • Pastry for 8-inch two-crust pie (homemade or use store bought!)
  • 4 cups peaches, sliced and peels removed (about 7-8 medium)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 Tablespoon flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon margarine or butter

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Mix peaches and lemon juice.
  3. Line pie plate with pastry.
  4. Mix sugar, flour and cinnamon and then stir into peaches.
  5. Pour into pastry covered pie plate.
  6. Dot peaches with butter (or margarine).
  7. Cover with second pastry crust that has slits cut into it.
  8. Seal crust and flute.
  9. Cover edge with 2 to 3 inch strip of aluminum foil to precent excessive browning.
  10. Remove foil during last 15 minute of cooking.
  11. Bake until crust is brown and juices begin to bubble through slits in the crust, 35-45 minutes.
  12. Serve with ice cream if desired.

 

 

I made 2 pies- one for everyone to taste and one for my grandpa to take home!

 

 

 

 

Molly Jean

Panzanella

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Another recipe to use up those wonderful ruby red, juicy tomatoes that are still in season!

Panzenella is a Tuscan salad that is made with tomatoes, onions, basil, day old toasted bread, and olive oil.  The recipe below is from the cook book The Tuscan Table by Jane Newdick and Lyn Rutherford.  This is a recipe my mom and I make at least once a summer and once we make it we always wonder why we don’t make it more often!  This salad is full of color and flavor. This recipe does take some time, but is definitely worth making!!

click the picture to take you to where you can buy the cookbook!

(Also, I would like to point out that my mother made this recipe this past Sunday and wanted to share it with you all!)

Ingredients

  • 2 sweet yellow peppers
  • 1 sweet red pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, un-peeled
  • 1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 6 ripe plum tomatoes, cut into wedges (or whatever tomatoes you have!)
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
  • 2 TBSP fresh parsley, chopped
  • 8 oz firm textured day-old country (or tuscan) bread, cut into thick slices
  • 2 TBSP butter, melted
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • 5 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 TBSP Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • handful of black olives (optional)

Directions

  1. Halve the peppers and remove the seeds.
  2. Place skin side up on broiler rack (or cookie sheet) with the whole garlic cloves and cook under broiler for 10-15 minutes until the skins are blistered and black all over.  Turn garlic occasionally and push it to the edge of the broiler (or cookie sheet) if it looks like it might burn.
  3. Place peppers in a bowl and cover with saran wrap and allow peppers to cool. Set garlic aside.
  4. Once peppers are cooled, peel off and discard skin and cut flesh into thin strips and place into large salad bowl.
  5. Add onions, tomatoes, herbs, and olives (if using), into salad bowl and season to tastel with salt and pepper.  Toss lightly to mix.
  6. Brush bread slices with melted butter and cut bread into large dice.
  7. Arrange bread in a single layer on the baking sheet and bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 10-12 minutes, until deep golden brown. (Watch bread after 8 minutes as it tends to turn quickly.)
  8. Meanwhile make the dressing.
  9. Peel the garlic and mash the flesh in a small bowl.  Whisk in the olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, and mustard. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  10. To serve- drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss well.  Add the hot bread and toss again.
  11. Serve immediately.

Molly Jean