Cousin Weekend – One Sentence Per Photo Style

It was another cold weekend in Cleveland, filled with plenty of fun indoor activities to keep us busy. Here are some of the highlights – and let’s see if I can keep it to one sentence per photos.

First, FW started a new daycare – he enjoyed snacktime as you can see!

We did some baking this weekend – starting with cookies. 

And of course some more spinach muffins; this time they had zucchini.

Some Vietnamese food takeout for dinner.

Out to breakfast Saturday morning!

FW’s cousin came up from Columbus, so we seen some time indoors. 

The Natural History Museum was a great place for two toddlers to run around and scream/growl at dinosaur bones.

And look at lots of big animals!

And yes, we did play a little bit outside. 

Sunday was a little “warm” (36 degrees!) so it included a mid-morning walk – we went to the bakery and FW fell asleep.

We picked up lunch and brought it over to Celia’s house, where FW played with the new baby Maura. 

And of course, we watched the Super Bowl – but it mostly meant FW got to hang out and play with his cousins (yes, more cousins!).

And, that’s a wrap! Another winter weekend is in the books. Can’t believe it’s February – 2018 is flying by. I hate when time goes by fast, but I wouldn’t mind warmer weather soon!

Some questions for you:

  • Do you watch the Super Bowl for the game or the commercials?
  • What do you do if you need to spend time indoors? Where do you go to stay entertained?

I’m linking up with the weekly wraps!

Welp, it’s February.

Phew. Ever end a weekend needing another one? That was my weekend. I don’t know why – it wasn’t terribly tiring, crazy, physically demanding, etc. But I definitely could use another 2 days off!

Friday night started out pretty lazy – B and I ordered takeout Vietnamese food, tested out our new chopsticks (from Vietnam!) and caught a few episodes of Walking Dead and Downton Abbey. Which got me thinking – what if there were a zombie show about zombies during Elizabethan era England? Huh? No, don’t quit my day job?  Okay …

takeout with nice chopsticks!

takeout with nice chopsticks!

Saturday, I got up semi early for another treadmill workout. I walked/ran (As most of my treadmill runs are these days) a 10K, did some kettle bells, arms and abs – and then met Ali to go to the West Side Market! We walked home and it felt so good to get in a longish walk – it’s been so chilly and snowy and I haven’t gotten a good walk in really since our trip. After our trip to the Market, we spent a few hours cooking! We both had Asian vacations recently (she to Thailand), and that definitely influenced our cooking. See for yourself – papaya cabbage salad and a red vegetarian curry:

Ali cooking

Ali cooking

Using a mandolin for the papaya (last time Ali used one she almost lost her thumb ...)

Using a mandolin for the papaya (last time Ali used one she almost lost her thumb …)

The finished product!

The finished product!

Then, I met up with B and his parents at Butcher and the Brewer for a drink. Their Midwest Mule is pretty amazing.

Sunday morning I woke up at 7 for no real good reason. I got in a 5.55 mile interval run – not as fast as I would’ve liked, but my first interval run in ages – and then it was time for brunch! Wet up with some friends at Market Garden Brewery for Sunday morning beverages and food. Food not photoed. But look at my amazing champagne flight – oh my goodness. We were stuffed and even though it was super snowy, I’m glad B and I had decided to walk the 40ish minutes to the restaurant and even looked forward to our 40ish minute walk back.

pretty drinks!

pretty drinks! my flight of mimosas

It was a little snowy

It was a little snowy

Sunday afternoon included some Super Bowl prep – check out some of the cookies I baked –

Butterfinger cheesecake cookie bars

Butterfinger cheesecake cookie bars

and we made spring rolls for an appetizer!

B rolling some spring rolls

B rolling some spring rolls

spring roll time! (totally normal super bowl appetizer right?)

spring roll time! (totally normal super bowl appetizer right?)

and then of course, it was Super Bowl party time! The spread also included ribs, drumsticks, chips and dip. Oh boy. I of course pretty much watched for the ads and the tweets, but WHAT A GAME (and the last minute?!!) and loved the Katy Perry halftime show.

How was your weekend?

Some questions for you:

  • What’s your favorite type of ethnic food to make?
  • What’s your go-to Super Bowl appetizer?
  • What was your favorite Super Bowl ad?


Tiny Beers, Big Game and Year of the Horse

Wow – January flew by, didn’t it? My birthday month came and went and I’m another year older and another year closer to having to change my bio because I’ll no longer being a “20-something blogger.”

How was your weekend? Mine was definitely fun and proof that there’s always something to do in Cleveland in the winter.

It started out Friday night at the Cleveland Winter Beerfest. B and I went with several of his coworkers and the night included quite a few beer tastings, dancing and other shenanigans. Definitely a fun event and it was awesome to see the new convention center so full! The night ended at what’s becoming one of our favorite local spots, Parnell’s.

tiny beers!

tiny beers!


Saturday started out somewhat slowly. We had done the weekend’s “long” run on Friday so we took the day off (yes, be proud of me) but eventually made it out of the apartment for a trip to the West Side Market to pick up this week’s groceries, a visit to Rising Star for some much needed caffeine, some baking (Ground Hog Day Cookies!) and then a succulent Chinese dinner with B’s friend from high school. B’s friend Joe moved abroad after graduating college, teaching English in Asia. It was in Taiwan that he met his wife, Ariel, and the couple now lives in Cleveland! We hit up one of our favorite Chinese food restaurants to enjoy some dinner in honor of the Chinese New Year!  Ariel ordered a great selection for us, and we had waaay too much good food.

Love my Rising Star almond milk lattes

Love my Rising Star almond milk lattes

groundhog day cookies

groundhog day cookies

The "After" picture from our Chinese feast

The “After” picture from our Chinese feast. There was tofu, fish, beef, veggies, soup, chicken and noodles.

Sunday included an easy workout (3.5 slow miles and then 25 minutes on the elliptical while watching Bones!), some cleaning, and then enjoying the Super Bowl with some friends while staying downtown. Not a terribly exciting game … or too many exciting ads, but I enjoyed the halftime show AND the online action. This year was definitely a year when most brands took time to tweet (still TBD how successful it was) during the game and even respond to one another and other ads.

A few of my favorite ads that I didn’t watch ahead of time (Cheerios and Budweiser ads were definitely awe-worthy, but I watched them in advance):

They even had a great online pay off- if you tweeted at @Radioshack during the evening you could win one of a few 80s-themed prizes that were announced during the evening on the microsite. It’s nice when an ad doesn’t just stand alone 🙂

I’m a sucker for anything with the Muppets.

I’ve been hearing Squarespace ads for a while now on podcasts and it was nice to see them playing with the big boys. And it was definitely a memorable ad for me.

Favorite tweets:

And Tide was allllllll over the Twitterverse (and Vineverse?) last night. They commented on almost every ad. It was fun to see them being so nimble, but they went overboard in my opinion. I think 3-5 tweets would’ve been enough. Here’s one of my favorites

Some questions for you:

  • What were your favorite Super Bowl ads? Who were you cheering for?
  • Are you ready for spring? The groundhog says 6 more weeks of winter … but I’m ready for the warm weather, thawed ground and running outside! No brainer.
  • What year (in the Chinese New Year) are you? I don’t know. I thought I was an ox. Then I thought I was a rat. Now I think I’m an ox again. Clearly I have multiple-personality disorder. 
  • What’s your favorite type of beer? I like sweet, light beers. And non-hoppy IPAs. So Bell’s Two Hearted – or any sweet wintry OR summer beer. 
  • Favorite tweets? Least favorite? I wasn’t a fan of the JC Penney stunt. I thought the Tweeting with Mittens concept was a little bit of a stretch and poorly executed. It did get everybody talking (and quite a few brands responding to their “drunken” tweets) but it just made me groan.

Bacon Bleu Cheese Guacamole

In need of a last minute appetizer before the Super Bowl? Looking for a new signature dish for potlucks? Here it is! Bacon bleu cheese guacamole. Yum. I first had this glorious combination at Lopez and was hesitant at first, as I have a strong dislike for bleu cheese. BUT there’s just something glorious about the combination of the avocado, the salty bacon and the tangy bleu cheese that makes it perfect! So B and I decided to make some for ourselves .. and guests … making a few additions – red onion and tomato. Here’s our recipe:

Bacon Bleu Cheese Guacamole

Perfect for a potluck, serves 6-8 as a main appetizer; serve with tortilla chips

What you need:

  • 5 avocados
  • 1/4 lb of bleu cheese (chunks or chopped into chunks)
  • 6-8 slices of thick cut bacon
  • 1 medium sized tomato
  • Half a red onion
  • Garlic powder, to taste

What you do:

  • Finely dice the red onion.
  • Chop the tomato into cubes, about 1/4 inch thick.
  • Cook the bacon. Let it get crispy, and then cool.
  • While bacon is cooking, mash the avocados.
  • Once the avocado is at the consistency you like your guacamole (I like mine smooth with some chunks), you’re ready to add in the other ingredients. Add in bleu cheese chunks to taste.
  • Finely chop the bacon and add to bleu cheese-avocado mixture.
  • Add garlic powder to taste.
  • Add in the onion and fold in tomato.

Enjoy with tortilla chips!

Football Brownie Sandwiches

Tomorrow B and I are having friends over to watch the Super Bowl. While we have the food and appetizers planned, I wasn’t sure what we were going to do for dessert. I thought about Football Brownies or Cheeseburger Cupcakes, but wanted to try something new.

Then, I came across this recipe for what the blogger called “Football Whoopie Pies” – while I don’t consider them actual whoopie pies, they still looked perfect for the big game. Below, the recipe, borrowed with minimal changes, from Created By Diane.

Football Brownie Sandwiches

Here’s what you need:

For the footballs:

  • 1 box of brownie mix
  • Ingredients required to make brownies (according to the box) minus the water, I ended up needing 2 eggs and ¼ c vegetable oil
  • Cookie icing (here’s what I used) to draw the laces

For the buttercream sandwich filling:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 tablespoons milk

Here’s what you do:

  • Mix together ingredients for brownie batter according to package, WITHOUT the water. If your brownie box has options for “fudgelike” brownies v. “cakelike” follow directions for “fudgelike.” Place brownie batter in a piping bag, and cut  a small slit at the end of the bag.
  • Create a football-shaped stencil, or use a cookie cutter. Draw the outline of footballs on parchment paper. Be sure to leave space between each football so that the footballs don’t run into one another – they will spread some when baking.
  • Line cookie sheets with the parchment paper.
  • Pipe the brownie mix to fill in the football shapes (see photo).
  • Bake brownies at 350 for 12-15 minutes. Since they are thin, watch to make sure they don’t burn – mine were done at exactly 12 minutes. Mine made 18 brownie footballs, or 9 sandwiches.
  • Cool completely before frosting!

  • While the brownies are baking and cooling, prepare the buttercream sandwich filling:
  • Beat butter until creamy.
  • Slowly add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time.
  • Add vanilla and milk and continue to mix until well mixed.
  • Once cooled, decorate half of the footballs. Use the cookie icing to draw laces on half the brownie footballs. These will be the top of the sandwiches.
  • Top the remaining footballs with 2 heaping tablespoons of the buttercream. Spread evenly and top with the laced sandwich half.
  • Enjoy!

Healthy Appetizers

A few weeks ago for the Super Bowl, I was searching for some healthy, yet entertaining-worthy appetizers. The fiance is on a mission to lose some weight before our wedding, but I still wanted to find some fun finger-foods for our super small Super Bowl gathering.

Nearly a month later, I’m sharing them (I can’t believe Feb is almost over!!) so you can use them for your next get-together – formal or informal!

Goat Cheese Marinara and pita chips: I first stumbled across this type of dip at Bricco, in downtown Cleveland. When my friend Ali told me she’d made a version on her own, I couldn’t wait to try it. I’ve been making it ever since! So simple, and delicious:


  • 1 c. marinara sauce (we just made our own, but if you are fearful of making your own pasta sauce, a store-bought brand may do … don’t tell my Italian mother I told you that!)
  • 1/2 small brick of goat cheese (I love Chevre… I think it comes in 5 oz bricks)
  • Hot pepper flakes, to taste


  • Pre-heat the oven to 350.
  • Take a small custard cup, safe for baking (I used a 3.5 oz rameken / custard cup) and fill nearly all the way with the marinara sauce. Mix in hot pepper flakes.
  • Cut the 5 0z goat cheese brick in half so that it’s about the height of the ramekin. Plop (lightly! or it will splatter) into the center of the marinara filled baking dish.
  • Bake for about 20 minutes, or until goat cheese is melty. Yes, melty is a word.

That’s it! Serve with either homemade pita chips, warm pita bread, or my favorite — Stacy’s Simply Naked. Yum yum!

Spinach & Artichoke Dip: I also served some “healthy” spinach and artichoke dip. The recipe was adopted from a Cooking Light recipe from a few years ago.


  • 10-ounce bag fresh spinach
  • 6 ounces (3/4 block) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 8 ounces (full block) fat-free cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups part-skim mozzarella, shredded
  • 1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts (canned in water), drained and chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely diced
  • 6 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese, divided (That’s what the recipe calls for .. I used more because I love me some Parmesan!)


  • Preheat oven to 350°F. (Same temp as the above recipe – you can make them at the same time!)
  • Tear spinach into bite-size pieces, removing any thick stems. Rinse in a colander and then dry. In a large nonstick skillet, sauté the spinach over medium heat until wilted. Drain in the colander, pushing a little of the extra water out. (NOTE – I forgot to tear the spinach before cooking and had to try to chop it when it was hot and cooked…which was more difficult)
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheeses with a potato masher. Add sour cream and mash more. Add spinach, mozzarella, artichokes, pepper, garlic, and 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan. Stir everything until thoroughly combined.
  • Pour mixture into a 1 1/2 quart baking dish. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan on top. I used a little more than 1/4 c because I love Parmesan!
  • Bake 30 minutes, or until Parmesan is melted dip is all bubbly. Remove from oven and give it a minute or two to cool down. Serve with homemade tortilla chips or low-fat/baked version.

And this – I snapped a photo of!

Enjoy!  I’ve just got a crock pot, thanks to my registry, so some recipes for that to come!

Football Brownies – A Super Bowl Treat

I just wanted to post a link to a fun, easy recipe to bring to any Super Bowl parties you may be going to tomorrow. If you’ve been asked to bring a dessert, check out Betty Crocker’s Brownie Footballs recipe for a fun idea.

From the site:

aaaaaaaa 1 box (1 lb 6.5 oz) Betty Crocker® Original Supreme brownie mix (with chocolate syrup pouch)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
3 eggs
Football-shaped cookie cutter, 3 1/2×2 inches
1 container (1 lb) Betty Crocker® Rich & Creamy chocolate frosting
Betty Crocker® white decorating icing (from 4.25-oz tube)

Print these coupons…
About Concordance™
aaaaaaaa 1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line 13×9-inch pan with foil, letting foil hang 2 inches over short ends of pan. Spray foil with cooking spray.
aaaaaaaa 2. In medium bowl, stir brownie mix, chocolate syrup, oil, water and eggs until well blended. Spread in pan.
aaaaaaaa 3. Bake 28 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted 2 inches from side of pan comes out almost clean. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
aaaaaaaa 4. Using foil to lift, remove brownies from pan. With football-shaped cookie cutter, cut brownies into football shapes. Spread frosting on brownies. Pipe on decorating icing to look like football laces.


I didn’t follow the recipe exactly– I ended up using Dunkin Hines brownie mix and didn’t frost the brownies with chocolate frosting like the recipe suggested (Don’t tell anyone, but I’m not a huge chocolate fan, so the less chocolate the better for me :).

Here’s how they turned out. What’s your favorite Super Bowl dessert to bring?