Hey Everybody- As a part of today’s Ohio Blogging Association‘s All State Blog Swap, I’m happy to introduce you to Amie from My Retro Kitchen. On this day, bloggers from around the great state of Ohio are guest posting on one another blogs as a way to help to get one another in our blogging community. For a full listing of blog swap participants, please visit Poise in Parma today. I am totally in awe of Amie’s talents as a mom and abilities in the kitchen. Keep an eye out for my guest post on her blog this afternoon!
my family, my life
Hi everyone! My name is Amie and I write the cooking blog My Retro Kitchen. Since becoming a mom myself I have noticed, although I hope it to be a dying trend, that the art of a home-cooked, sit-down family dinner is a thing of the past. It is a retro idea. People are busy, kids sports schedules are hectic and goodness, it can just get hard to have a moment to talk to one another, let along cook a meal and all eat it at the same table at the same time. But truly I believe it is one of the best things a person can give their family! So My Retro Kitchen is full of recipes that anyone can make at home, they don’t take a lot of time and shouldn’t cost you a lot in the process. Cooking for your family doesn’t have to be fancy, it doesn’t have to be expensive, but it can be delicious and from the heart.
When the Ohio Blogging Association put together this blog swap together, I was thrilled to be pared with Sara! At our last meet up, she and I got to sit next to one another. I had such a nice time chatting and getting to know her. It is always so much fun to actually sit face to face with a blogger you read online all the time!! So thank you so much Sara for letting me take over your page for the day.
As a stay at home to two very, very active little boys- Jackson my Super Hero 5 year old and Owen, the busy 18 month old (who-thinks-he-is-five!), I often get asked if I really do cook for my family every day. And how in the world I can do it!! Of course we do have our occasional declared pizza nights, but aside from that, yes I choose to bless my family in the way. For healthy happy bellies make healthy happy children and husbands! Sarah asked if I could share some tips to making nightly home cooking simple, and not as time consuming as it seems. I promise you can all do it!
Weekly Meal Plans I think one of the most cost efficient ways to kick-start nightly home cooking is to create a weekly meal plan. This is actually a process that I discovered not to very long ago but now swear by it! My meal plan isn’t broken down into strict Monday we will eat This and Tuesday we will eat That. But I do decide the night before I go shopping for the 2 week pay schedule what dinners we will eat across those 14 days, and then shop according to those recipes. That way all I have to do is peek at my “Menu” on the fridge where have a ton of ideas (that I also know I have all of the ingredients for on hand) and dinner is a snap. There is nothing worse then having this great idea for dinner, you start cooking and realize you need some beans, canned tomatoes or maybe rice noodles and fish sauce. Out to the store you go. Not very time saving or cost efficient.
Stock Your Pantry Going along with the weekly meal plan is also the importance of a stocked pantry. I don’t mean going crazy and buying 10 cans of tomato sauce at the bulk store. But having one or two extra items of the things you go thorough most often along with a few “special” ingredients for when a fun idea hits you. I love playing with Ethnic recipes, so for these I like to pick up some of the not so everyday (for me) items to have on hand. There is something about a nice stocked pantry that makes me smile from ear to ear. Ohhh the choices!! Don’t do it all at one time, just maybe buy an extra bottle of ketchup or those two for one cans of kidney beans each time you shop. You won’t notice the expense in your weekly shopping, but your pantry will get full fast.
Make Use of Your Freezer Another thing I find hugely helpful is making two batches at a time when I am putting together a recipe like a casseroles, enchiladas, or homemade raviolis (won ton wrappers are a great time saver for these by the way!) and even breakfast muffins- one for a meal that day and another to wrap in plastic and foil and placing in the freezer for another night down the road. You already have the ingredients on the counter so it takes not all that much extra time now but saves you a world of time when you get home a little later then usual in a couple weeks and the thought of making a full dinner makes you groan. All you have to do is pull that tray of enchiladas out of the freezer and pop it in the oven. Dinner is ready in 25 minutes and you did nothing… but your family raves of your Super Ability! All it takes is a little pre-planning.
I could go on and on all of the simple changes you can make in your routine to make dinner time a family tradition. But with so many tips I think I have found a new weekly blog post on my Retro Kitchen! Thanks Sara! lol.
So now I am going to share with you one of my most favorite, and also most popular recipes on My Retro Kitchen. My Spaghetti and Meatball Pie. Everyone loves spaghetti and meatballs and how many of us have it as a regular item on your rotating meals?! Well this recipe takes the basic idea of the dish, but gives it a little spin to turn it into something completely new and delicious. And the best part of it- it freezes awesome!
Spaghetti and Meatball Pie
8 oz. dry spaghetti noodles (half a box)
2 tbsp butter or margarine
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2 well-beaten eggs
1 lb ground turkey or beef, divided (1/4 for meatballs and 3/4 for in the skillet sauce)
1/2 cup sliced onion
1/2 cup-1 cup shredded zucchini (optional)
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced (optional)
1 bell pepper, chopped (optional)
1 (8-oz.) can Italian-style stewed tomatoes (don’t drain) or 4 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 (6-oz.) can tomato paste
1 Tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup cottage cheese or ricotta cheese (I prefer cottage cheese for this, but both work. I use whatever I happen to have on hand)
1/2 cup Mozzarella or Moneterey Jack cheese, shredded
For the meatballs (makes about 4-6 meatballs)
the reserved 1/4 lb ground meat
8 ritz crackers, crushed (or 1/4 cup bread crumbs)
1 teaspoon fresh oregano chopped
1 teaspoon fresh basil, chopped
salt and fresh ground black pepper
Combine all ingredients and roll into golfball-sized meatballs. Brown on all sides and set aside.
For the pie
1. Cook spaghetti noodles. Drain. Stir margarine into hot noodles until melted. Stir in Parmesan cheese and eggs. Form pasta mixture into a crust shape in a buttered 9-inch pie plate.
2. In skillet, cook ground beef and onions, bell pepper and mushrooms until meat is browned. Drain. Add to meat mixture, tomatoes, zucchini, tomato paste, oregano and garlic. Heat through. Spread cottage cheese over bottom of spaghetti crust.
3. Top with tomato/meat mixture.
4. Cut the meatballs in half and arrange on top.
5. Sprinkle grated cheese over all.
Lightly cover pan with foil and bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove foil and bake for 5 more minutes until cheese is lightly browned. Cut into pie wedges and serve.
Special Note: You can also prepare this dish ahead of time and freeze for later. If you want to go this route, you will cover your pie pan with plastic wrap and foil right after assembly; label and freeze. When you are ready to serve: Thaw. Bake, covered, for 25 minutes at 350 F. Remove foil and bake for 5 minutes more until cheese is lightly browned. If you prepare this in a disposable foil pan you even have less dishes to do!
After 2 month of intense rehearsal, Ragtime opens tonight. The last 2 weeks have been some of the most intense of my life. Between constant rehearsals and a trip to DC for work (and a little fun) last weekend, I am exhausted. My house is a mess, we have no food, I’ve spent very few waking hours at home, and I feel like I’m neglecting my dogs.
All that said, I’m so glad I did this. It has been the best experience. Performing at Near West Theatre feels like the completion of a circle and performing in THIS SHOW is an honor. The cast is so talented and the music is beautiful. The story is timeless and the sets & costumes are incredible.
Are you a Clevelander? Do you enjoy theatre? If so, you should come see Ragtime. Performances are tonight through May 20. Check out the photos and video below for more info then go purchase your tickets at the Near West Theatre website. I promise you won’t regret it!
So will I see you there? (All photos and video by Geoff Short)
In the last 10 months, yoga has become my workout of choice. When I started at Embrace, I learned that they had a fabulous wellness program including weekly yoga classes at the office. SCORE! Even better was the fact that Embrace covered half the cost so a 4 week session was only $14. I was all over this and have been practicing regularly since July.
Yoga is the perfect workout for me. A combination of strength, flexibility and balance work, I always feel accomplished and exhausted after a session. I’ve gotten pretty
good adequate at the poses and am starting to gain the strength in my upper body (something I have struggled with my whole life) to do some of the more complicated poses. Our in-office instructor, Jessica, is fabulous at giving us the time and attention when it comes to trying new things but not pushing us to hard.
Last month, I finally got to take advantage of one of the free workshops at Nishkama Yoga in Independence after hearing about it from Alicia of Poise in Parma. Alicia is Nishkama’s Director of Operations and a yogi herself. The free workshop was an opportunity for new Nishkama instructors to practice teaching classes before they hit the big time and I, for one, am happy to be a yoga test dummy! The experience was great and, thought it was a fairly basic class, I walked out sweating.
So when Alicia invited me to a a blogger exclusive yoga session at Nishkama’s new location in North Olmsted, I jumped at the opportunity! When I walked in this afternoon, I was thrilled to see some of my favorite CLE bloggers would be joining me in the class. The yoga skill level was all over the map – from those who had never done yoga before to Becca of Peace, Love and Bagels – a yoga instructor in training. I didn’t know quite what to expect from the class but I was ready for anything.
Our instructor, Ylonda, the Co-Owner & Director of NYNO, was fabulous. She started off slow for the newbies but got us moving, working through a flow and holding poses for just long enough to make us squirm! It is so nice to take a class and know what I’m doing but still feel challenged by the change in routine that comes from a new instructor. By the time we hit back bents at the end of class, I was a sweaty mess. My favorite little surprise was actually shavasana. Ylonda played this fabulous string music. It was beautiful and relaxing and a total departure from what I’ve become used to.
After class we indulged in a few healthy snacks and took the opportunity to catch up. I’ve been busy with Ragtime and missed the last blogger meet up so it was fabulous reconnecting with these fabulous ladies (and gentleman, Brandon!). Thanks so much to Alicia for inviting me, to Ylonda for an awesome class and the CLE blogging community for coming out!
Interested in trying a class at Nishkama? The grand opening of their North Olmsted studio (located at 24765 Lorain Road) is May 5th and they’ll be having free classes all day. Click here to sign up!
As you’ve probably read in my previous posts (here and here), I love Jump Back Ball. It bring together 2 things I hold very dear- theatre and partying. I went to this fundraiser for Playhouse Square’s education department for the first time last year and this year I took things up a notch by co-chairing the Raffle & Silent Auction committee. Last Saturday was the main event- Jump Back Ball 21 “Through the Looking Glass”- and I rushed back from a veterinary conference in Columbus to attend. After a quick nap, I gussied myself up and headed downtown with my 2 favorite people- Tracy & Chris.
The night started off with food and drink on the State Theatre stage. As a total theatre nerd, I cannot tell you how cool it is to party here. You sorta feel like you’re in a crazy production or experiment. On stage there were jugglers, a stiltwalkers, 2 bars, a drink pouring ice sculpture, and some of the young creme-de-la-creme of Cleveland enjoying a good time. Some people dress up in costume while others simply dress up which leads to some of the best people watching you can ask for. I got my dress days before the event at my favorite place to find formalwear- T.J. Maxx. Yup, you read right- I get all my dresses at T.J. Maxx. I find the cutest dresses at the best prices so don’t judge!
While we were enjoying dinner in the seats of the State, the first band started on stage. Radioactive was the second band last year and, while they started kinda slow this year, they rocked it out. I danced, drank and met up with some of my favorite bloggers. Check out this great pic of myself, Jen from WhyCLE? and Amanda from Clue into Cleveland (both blog friend and amazing Jump Back Ball co-chair!). The ladies looked lovely in their very similar Queen of Hearts themed dresses holding drinks from my absolute favorite JBB bar- the one in the ladies bathroom!
Also in attendance was Shibani (of CleShopaholic), my fellow Secondhand Mutts board member, and her husband, Nick. Nick’s outfit was one of my favorites simply because it walked the line between formalwear and costume PERFECTLY.
To finish things off on stage before moving into the lobby for band #2, the JBB co-chairs, Amanda and Meredith, jumped up with Radioactive and rocked out. They worked so hard to bring this event together and it was great seeing them finally be able to let loose and enjoy the fruits of their labor.
Back out in the lobby, the raffle & silent auction that I worked on attracted potential winners, a very elaborate cake begged attendees to “eat me,” and Tricky Dick & the Cover-Ups took the stage. This band was probably Chris’s favorite part of the night and I must say that they did pull out some sweet 80’s tracks. We danced the night away and much too soon it was time to head home. As with any good party, I stumbled into bed with music still in my ears and spent the next day remembering the best moments with Chris and Tracy.
Farewell, Jump Back Ball 21. I can’t wait to do it all again next year.
I love Life According to My iPhone posts. They help me remember all the awesome things I’ve been up to. Sometimes I’m so busy and have to move onto the next thing so quickly, that I forget. As stressful as these busy times are, if had lots of free time, I’d probably get bored and try to fill it.
We headed up to Syracuse last weekend to visit our friends the Zinninger (you might remember them from my posts about trips to their lake house here and here. We had a fabulous time drinking, skiing and socializing. I am amazed by the way this family welcomes us with open arms every time. We are so lucky to have met them.
On Tuesday, I headed to Wine & Design in Tremont for a Ohio Blogging Association wine tasting. I love combining 2 things I love (wine & blogging, if that wasn’t obvious) into a great night out. The wine was delicious (although not my normal sweet white preference), the company was wonderful and I was reminded what a great community Cleveland has. Overall, a winning night. YAY!
Now I’m sitting in my hotel room in Columbus. Today I put up the Embrace booth at the Midwest Veterinary Conference and I’ll be working there for the rest of the week. It should be a good time (we have Plinko!) and I’m excited to having so many of my co-workers coming down to work the show with me. Hopefully, I’ll have a few photos and info on that soon but for now, I’m off to bed. Good night, reader!
Slowly but surely, I am finishing up the Scene challenge. It’s definitely been a challenge- between a strangely busy winter social life and living on a few budget, things are moving slowly but they are still moving!
17. Moxie, the Restaurant (Beachwood)
I went with: My sister & Mom
Price: Our total was $56 before tip
What we had: We each had a glass of wine. My mom had eaten before she came (silly woman!) and just got a small order of crab “cakes.” Tracy and I split the Caesar salad and Spicy Shrimp Scampi.
Food: This experience started out well for Tracy the bread lover when they brought out some amazing bread and a delicious dipping sauce. While the Caesar salad was kinda basic – nothing exciting there- the Shrimp Scampi was delicious. The couscous was cooked perfectly and the shrimp had just the right amount of heat.
Service: Our server was very attentive. She even split our shared items in advance which was definitely a plus!
Summary:Overall it was a good experience. I’m not sure if I would say it was one of my best dining experiences for this challenge but I would give it another try.
18. Sokolowski’s University Inn (Tremont)
I went with: Chris
What we had: Chris had the pierogi plate with green beans and potatoes. I had the stuffed cabbage with pierogies and sauerkraut. We split a Coke.
Food: Saying Sokolowski’s will fill you up is an understatement. These heaping plates of food are mind boggling. I’ve been to Sokolowski’s before and the pierogies were delicious as usual- covered in butter with just the right amount of onion. I usually get the pierogi dinner myself but decided to branch out and try the stuffed cabbage. I am SO GLAD I did. It was the very best stuffed cabbage that I have EVER HAD. The only minor disappointment in the meal was my sauerkraut. I love sauerkraut and I’ve had it here before (there have been times I asked for double sauerkraut instead of a second side…). On this occasion, the taste was just a little off. Not sure if it had too much butter or what. The sourness was cut with something a little too sweet for my taste.
Service: Sokolowski’s is cafeteria style. You never quite know what kind of line you are going to walk in to. Before this experience (we got there at 7:15pm on a Saturday), I had never waited in a line that was more than 20 people long. I’m not sure if it was the day of the week, the time of day, or the fact that we got there just as a huge retirement party was getting in, but we were all the way back at the back of the restaurant when we started. We probably waited 20-25 minutes in line. Chris was a little frustrated at first but I reminded him that at most restaurants we would have to wait to be seated, wait for a server to come take our order and then wait for our food. Overall- pretty comparable.
Summary: I love Sokolowski’s and if you are looking to get really full on some authentic Polish cuisine- this is your place!
So, 7 restaurants left. Planning on grabbing Chris from work when I work from home this week to cross Slyman’s off the list (they were trying really hard to make it difficult by only being open week days until 2pm but I will not be detoured!). I also had some blogger friends mention that a night at Li Wah might be fun. Who’s in????
Sorry for disappearing on you there, reader. After a busy weekend, I finally couldn’t hold back the cold anymore, the shifting weather patterns brought on sinus problems and then I just started feeling bad for myself. Honestly, I thought about blogging when I was feeling down but I don’t want this blog to be about me feeling sorry for myself. This is a fun place! So let’s do a quick recap of what you missed this weekend…
When I left off, I was popping Wal-born (Airborne’s cheaper 1/2 cousin) like it was going out of style in hopes of getting rid of the looming cold so I could enjoy my busy weekend. Amazingly, I spent 5 days with a sore throat that never progressed into a full on cold. So, Saturday morning in a snow storm, I headed to Tremont for the Secondhand Mutts barkfeast. The event was a success and it was great seeing people come in out of the cold to support such a wonderful cause. The heartworm positive dogs that the event benefits stopped by and I got this picture of Blueberry, the sweetest little Doberman you ever did see…
After that I went directly to Trinity Cathedral to help set up for the Near West Theatre benefit. It was a very strange feeling being there but not as a member of the staff. I put coat check tags on hangers, a job I would normally pass off to a volunteer, because, well, I was the volunteer! Soon I found my groove and was happy to help wherever I was needed. By 3:30, I was in need of a shower and a rush job getting ready for the event. When I got home I spent every spare moment prepping and primping and then Chris and I headed to the newly opened Spice Kitchen + Bar (the location of the benefit after-party) to catch the limo bus back toTrinity. The event was a blast and I was in the perfect position to help when they needed me and relax with a glass of wine when they didn’t. Lots of my favorite people were there- my parents, NWT friends, blog friends (including my giveaway winner, Jen from WhyCLE?), even old friends like Cool Cleveland reporter & former coworker, Julie Cajigas. I stole a couple of Julie’s pictures and grabbed some of my own for this little collage of the night…
Clockwise from top right:w/Jen from WhyCLE? and her fiance Matthew, Amanda from Clue into Cleveland and her husband Scott, & Chris; w/my parents; w/NWT friend Joe Kenderes; w/Christine Neidhardt and NWT Exec Director Stephanie Morrison-Hrbek, w/Chris, NWT performer Theresa Pedone & her dog, Dexter; with my old staff – Carole, Sue & Lindsay
I had WAY too much fun at this event. No, really, I had too much fun. The kinda fun that keeps you in bed until 5pm on Sunday and almost makes you miss your concert. But fear not, I made it out of bed in just enough time to shower, eat and get dressed to head down to the House of Blues.
I’m one of those people who really needs to love a band to see them in concert. For that reason, I often avoid showing up for the opening acts. Sunday it was a combination of that and feeling like there was no way I would be able to stand through 2 opening acts and Jack’s Mannequin after the day I had. It was a good choice and we had perfect timing- arriving as the crew was setting up for the main event. The concert was awesome and I can’t thank Chris enough for the tickets! I only took one picture and it’s not very good, but here it is:
After Sunday, things went downhill. All the fun gave the cold germs the perfect opportunity to take over and I have spent the week using up our supply of tissues and trying to figure out where the symptoms of my cold end and my allergies begin. Yesterday, in a moment of weakness, I felt really miserable for myself. I let all those little problems overwhelm me and I almost wrote a big long post about it. Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t, because those little doubts and fears aren’t who I am. So, that was my week away. I promise I’m back to my regularly scheduling blogging (whether you like it or not!).
Do you think you can ration with germs? Probably not, but I’m gonna try.
I can feel you invading my body. This sore throat sure is hanging on and I blame my sister. She was sick this weekend and I am sure that you jumped from her to me. This is a really bad time, germs. You see, I have a very busy weekend. One I have been looking forward to for quite a while now.
First there is Scramble’s 3rd Annual Memorial Pancake Barkfeast to benefit Secondhand Mutts on Saturday. I’m working the event and I really don’t think that people want germs in their pancakes (personally, I prefer chocolate chips in mine!). The event benefits the dogs in the Secondhand Mutts program that are heartworm positive. They are expecting over 400 people this year and I just gotta be there. Do you really want to stop me from helping the poor heartworm positive puppies? I think not.
After that I’ve gotta jump right over to help with set-up for Near West Theatre’s Benefit but then I ACTUALLY GET TO ATTEND THIS YEAR (instead of working the event). I’ve been waiting 5 years to enjoy this event as a guest. Don’t take this away from me, germs! I even got to giveaway tickets and I’d really like to hang out with Jen from Why Cle? and make sure she has an amazing time!
Finally, on Sunday, I get to cash in on my Christmas present. I had to wait a whole month but the day is almost here- Jack’s Mannequin at House of Blues!!! Don’t ruin Christmas for me, germs. I would hate to miss this concert and Chris would hate to see his present go to waste. You know Jacks’ Mannequin is my favorite and I haven’t seen them live in A LONG TIME. The new album is really growing on me!
So, as you can see, germs- this is just not the best time. If you don’t mind, I’ll keep taking the Wal-born ($2 cheaper than Airborne and the wild berry flavor is actually quite tasty) and we’ll part ways as friends. I’m sure you can understand, right? It’s not you, it’s my weekend.
All the best,