Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Dinner Party Inspiration: Retro

Have you thrown a dinner party lately? You might think you're too busy or don't know how to cook or maybe you're embarrassed of your house. Whatever your reasons, I say now is the time to take the plunge! With the temperatures dropping, there is no better time to invite some friends over.

This is the first in a series of Dinner Party Inspiration that will hopefully convince you to host a party of your own.
dinner party
I have several groups of friends that like to {dinner} party. One group takes turns hosting, the host makes the main dish and everyone else brings appetizers, sides and dessert. There may or may not be a theme involved, but there is always lots of great food and wine. Back when I belonged to an online wine club, I used to host wine parties where I would supply the wine and everyone would bring food. Or you could cook up a storm and just invite people over to help you eat it all. If you want the ultimate in ease, follow these five rules. But no matter what style you choose, as long as you have friends and food, it's sure to be a great time. 

My friend Sarah loves having friends over and hosts Supper Club every other month. It's always the same weekend so people can plan ahead and she selects a theme for each party.

I'm starting off my series with Sarah's last party theme because it was super easy and so much fun.
                        Retro Dinner Party


For this party idea, the theme can be really specific (all casseroles) or you can even pick a favorite decade (50s, 60s, and 70s). Sarah let it be a free for all and we ended up with an interesting and delicious mix of dishes.
Ambrosia, cheese balls, Lawson's chip dip, creamed peas and onion,
meatloaf and jello were all on the menu
My favorites of the night were big surprises! Melissa's Spam Sliders were so good. Spam is salty but oh so good. Loved the addition of grilled onions and cheese.
Spam Sliders
And even more surprisingly delicious was Sarah's Tomato Aspic. None of us had ever tried it before and were all nervous because you know, savory Jello - ew! But this one tasted like a tomato and cucumber salad or a Bloody Mary and was excellent! Not one bite was left.
Tomato Aspic
But the coolest dish for sure were Patricia and Jim's homemade TV dinners. In real metal trays. Genius! And they even included adorable homemade mini apple pies. Get trays to make your own here.
Homemade TV Dinner
Are you ready to throw your own Retro Dinner Party? If so, put on that apron and use this simple "recipe" to get you started:

1. Punch - it's a perfect way to kick off the festivities
2. Finger food - nibbles are my favorite 
3. Casseroles - a single dish of yum
4. Mystery meat - the perfect excuse to try some Spam!
5. Dips and cheeseballs - the possibilities are endless...and delicious
6. Creamed something
7. Beverages - old man beer and classic cocktails
8. Jello - classic, salad, aspic, finger Jello or maybe some Jello shots :) 
9. Something sweet

This is the perfect excuse to get out those serving trays and nut dishes...
Polka Dot Serving TrayNut Server
and tie on a pretty apron. These are so cute you'll want to keep them on all night!

If you need some recipes ideas, here are some to get you started:

Scratch or classic soup based tuna noodle casserole
Cheese Ball
Creamed peas and onions
Jello Salad

A great cookbook with lots of recipes is Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook - my Mom has this one and there are some gems in there.

Hope this post inspired you to host your own dinner party! If retro isn't your thing, stay tuned for other fun ideas like Campfire Dinner Party and Soup Party.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Our Global Kitchen

The Cleveland Museum of Natural History has a really cool special exhibition from the American Museum of Natural History through January 8th. They take guests on a journey through time and across continents to learn, see and even taste how food cultivation and human culture have grown together.
Visit the Museum for live cooking demonstrations by talented chefs from Zack Bruell's restaurants at 1:00, 2:00 and 3:00 pm on Saturdays. Seating is first come, first served. 

A new dish inspired by different cultures, cooking techniques and seasonal ingredients is featured every week—and the recipes are easy enough for you to duplicate at home! 

Here's the delicious schedule - I want to go to all of them!

October 15 - Apples
October 22 - Soups
October 29 - Halloween Treats

November  5 -  Root Vegetables
November 12 - Thanksgiving Sides
November 19 - Simple Holiday Drinks
November 26 - Ways to use Holiday Leftovers

If you are a member, it's free! Otherwise the cost of admission to the museum is $15 per adult and Our Global Kitchen is included. Become a member here.

Follow the Natural History Museum on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Giveaway: Edwin's Run for Re-Entry

If you live in Cleveland, you have probably heard of Edwins. EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant Institute is a restaurant with a mission - to help formerly incarcerated and underprivileged men and women a foundation in the hospitality industry while providing a support network necessary for a successful reentry. 

They are hosting the first annual Run for Re-Entry on Sunday October 23rd and all proceeds will benefit their wonderful program. They are offering both a 5k run and a 1 mile walk. And dogs are welcome on the walk!

October 23, 2016

13101 Shaker Square 
Cleveland, OH 44120

Start Time:
Registration/Packet Pickup at 9 am
Run/Walk begins at 10 am

Registration Info:
5K Run $25.00 
1 Mile Walk $15.00

(Pre-Registration for
Buckeye/Shaker Square Residents:
5K Run $15.00)

Race Day Registration:  
5K Run $30.00
1Mile Walk $20.00

Online Registration will close Friday, October 21, at 9:00 a.m.

Sign up and here's what you'll get:

* Exercise, fun and fresh air
* Race T-Shirt 
* Age Group Awards
* After party - Post Race Refreshments and Food Prepared by EDWINS 
* Live Music by Big Ship
* Happiness from helping this amazing organization

Register online here or for more information, contact Hermes Sports & Events at (216) 623-9933.

And you can enter to win a free
race registration here!

Use the Rafflecopter below to enter. Contest ends 10/19. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway 

Not a runner?

No problem! You can still support EDWINS’ students at the Run for Re-Entry by volunteering at the race. Volunteers are needed to help with registration, water stops, course marshalling and timing runners.

To volunteer, contact Valerie Maczak-Grim, EDWINS Development Director, at or (330) 268-7400.

*** Disclosure: I was asked to help promote this event and
was provided the free registraion to giveaway
to a reader. As always, all opinions expressed are my own. ***

Upcoming Events: Pier W Tour of Italy Wine Dinner

On Tuesday November 1st at 6pm, Pier W is hosting an Italian wine dinner that will educate as well as delight. 

Kliment Stevoff, the restaurant’s wine director and Level II sommelier, along with Executive Chef Regan Reik, will guide guests through a four-course food and wine pairing.
Photo Credit
Guests can expect an intimate, tutored event with an AMAZING menu!

1st Course
Lobster Carpaccio
Lobster Carpaccio, Accompanied by Mango Mignonette Sauce, Poached Asparagus Tips, Shaved Shallots, Frisee
IL Folli Prosecco “Extra Dry” ~ Veneto ~ Italy ~ N.V.

2nd Course
Prosciutto & Ricotta Agnolotti
Sliced Prosciutto, Medley of Italian Olives and Ricotta Filled Ravioli, Finished with Truffle Beurre Blanc,Butter Roasted Mushroom and Porcini Powder
Tenuta di Trinoro ~ Passopisciaro “Etna Rosso” ~ Nerello Mascalese ~ Sicily ~ Italy ~ 2013

3rd Course
Australian Lamb Chops
Sous Vide and Roasted Lamb Chops, on a Garlic Herb Butter Risotto and Batonette Steamed Vegetable Medley, Topped with a Mostarda Demi-Glace with Sundried Tomatoes
Gianfranco Alessandria Barolo ~ Nebbiolo ~ Piedmonte ~ Italy ~ 2011

4th Course
Vanilla Napoleon
Crisp Puff Pastry, Vanilla Cream,
Maple Anglaise, Mixed Nut Crumble
                             Marco Cecchini Picolit ~ Friuli-Venezia Giulia ~ Italy ~ 2008 

The Tour of Italy wine dinner is $85 plus tax and gratuity. Reservations are required - call 216-228-2250 by by Monday, October 31 to make yours.

Pier W
12700 Lake Avenue
Winton Place,
Lakewood, OH 44107

You can follow Pier W on Facebook and on Twitter to learn about other delicious upcoming events.

*** Disclosure: I was invited to attend this event and will be provided a media pass.
As always, all opinions are my own. ***

Monday, October 10, 2016

Harvesting Hope 2016 Event Recap

I was extremely excited to be invited to attend the American Cancer Society's third annual fundraiser Harvesting Hope. The event was held two days before our anniversary (#3!) at our wedding location so I knew it was going to be a special event for us personally.

But it was special for many more reasons:

1. Learning about the Joseph S. and Jeannette M. Silber Hope Lodge. Free housing and a healing environment are provided for adult cancer patients and their families who receive life-saving treatment in the Greater Cleveland area. I think one of the best things about this event is the awareness it provides for this much needed resource. 

2. A cocktail hour and food stations. I really enjoyed starting off with cocktails and passed apps. It served as both an enticing beginning to the gala but also gave us time to mingle with representatives from the American Cancer Society and stroll around the gardens before the main event.

3. Seeing friends, both old and new. Fellow blogger friend Bite Buff scored a fabulous in-home chef dinner at the live auction and the winners of my giveaway cleaned up at the silent auction too!
Thank you to Bite Buff for the photo of the two of us!
Photo Credit
3. Gorgeous setting. Even though I'm likely biased, this was a lovely location for an event! I love events that take advantage of the nice weather with outdoor venues. Thankfully the weather cooperated so we could walk the gardens, including our wedding location, the Japanese Garden. Visiting this special spot was a real bonus! 
4. Last but certainly not least, the food. Some of my favorite chefs in Cleveland were showing off with excellent dishes. We were treated to two dishes from each chef.
Chefs John Selick, Jeff Jarrett, Adam Bostwick, Mia Amidi & Zack Bruell and
Jonathan Bennett and his lovely helper 
Delicious food from John Selick and Adam Bostwick at Harvesting Hope 2016
The bean soup and multi-grain salad from Chef Jeff Jarrett of US Foods were also great but I was too busy devouring them to take photos (oops!)

They also provided everyone a tin of an herb or seasoning to take home. What a great favor! It was beautifully packaged and tied in perfectly with the theme. 

It was only the 3rd year for the Harvesting Hope Gala and they are off to a great start! Kudos to the American Cancer Society for hosting this outstanding event. 

*** Disclaimer: I was provided two tickets to give away and two for personal use in exchange for helping promote the event. As always, all opinions expressed are my own. ***