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Guest Post: Eat Drink Cleveland's Resolution Recipes

Scott and I at Austin's Salt Lick, after stuffing ourselves on the best BBQ we've ever had.

When you read this, I’ll be on the road somewhere between Texas and Ohio. Austin was stunning and Jodi and Rusty the perfect hosts. I can’t wait to share how Scott and I managed to find a little bit of Cleveland over 1000 miles away and I hope you’ve been enjoying the guest posts while I’m gone.

Last week, Finding the Time shared her giveaway for tickets to the Near West Theatre benefit (if you haven’t already, enter here). Today, Crystal from Eat Drink Cleveland has some cold-weather recipes to try out this winter.

Before I learned she wrote a blog about Cleveland food, I became friends with Crystal through NEO Food Tours as she has been a longtime supporter of the organization (learn more about her in this Focus on Foodies Q&A).

I’m already missing Austin’s 70-degree temperatures, so these recipes will be the perfect way to re-acclimate to the cold weather once I’m back!


Hi! I’m Crystal from Eat Drink Cleveland. When Amanda asked me to do a guest post for her while she is having a fabulous time on vacation, I was totally honored!

I absolutely love her blog about all the fun things to do around the CLE. When trying to come up with a topic, I read her post about their delicious sounding Christmas dinner. Amanda talks about how she is totally terrified of cooking at home and has just started stretching her comfort level and hitting the kitchen. If you know me or read my blog, you know I love to eat out. But I also really love to cook and do it regularly.

In honor of Amanda’s blossoming cooking skills, and to help everyone keep their New Year’s resolutions about eating healthier and losing those extra pounds, I’m going to share some of my favorite healthy recipes with you that are super easy…even if it’s your first time in the kitchen!

1. Citrus Kale salad 

Beautiful salad for the holidays thanks to the bright red and green colors.

This is a new recipe that we recently tried that is now a staple. It’s so healthy and delicious! The original recipe came from the Feb. 2012 issue of Whole Living magazine.  Here is my version:

  • 1 bunch kale, torn into bite sized pieces
  • 1 T fresh lime juice
  • 2 T citrus olive oil
  • 1 piece fresh ginger, grated (about 1T)
  • 1/2 fresh pomegranate (about 1/2 c)
  • 2 T red onion, chopped
  • 1/4 c toasted walnuts

Put kale leaves in a bowl. Drizzle olive oil, lime juice and ginger on top. Rub into leaves until well coated and kale is bruised. Add remaining ingredients and S+P to taste.


* Drain kale very well. If it is damp, the dressing won’t stick.

* If you don’t have citrus olive oil, add segments of clementines, tangerines, or mandarin oranges to the salad.

* I used a lot more ginger, closer to 2 tablespoons.

Raw kale salad with clementines.

2. Crystal’s Cherry Delicious Brussels Sprouts

Toast nuts in dry pan until fragrant.

  • 1 pound brussels sprouts, cut in quarters
  • 1 c toasted pecans or slivered almonds
  • 1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 c dried cherries
  • 1/2 c golden raisins
  • 1 T EVOO
  • 1 T herbed butter

Toast nuts. Set aside. In same pan, saute onions in olive oil until soft. Add brussels sprouts and cook until just tender but still firm. Add herbed butter and fruit. Season with S+P to taste.

* Even people who claim to hate brussels sprouts love these. (I bet Scott will too!)

* I always double the recipe because they are soooo good!

* I use Creekside Creamery Garden Herb Butter from Costco. You can substitute plain butter and herbs of your choice.

Crystal's Cherry Delicious Brussels Sprouts

3. Barley Stuffed Acorn Squash

  • 2 acorn squash, cut in half
  • 2 small zucchini, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried chopped dates, cherries, raisins
  • 1/2 slivered almonds
  • 1 cup cooked barley
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1 t. cayenne pepper
  • 1 t. Adobe seasoning
  • S+P

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place squash cut side up in shallow baking dish.  Liberally salt the inside of the squash. Add 1 c water to pan and set aside. Saute onions and zucchini in olive oil until tender. Add garlic, dried fruit, almonds and stir until fruit plumps. Add cooked barley and seasonings – mix well. Adjust seasonings to taste. Scoop mixture into acorn squash halves. Cover with foil and bake until squash is tender, about 40 minutes.

These recipes are all perfect for the colder months and won’t break the bank or your diet plans! They are healthy, easy to make and won’t keep you in the kitchen for hours. I hope that 2012 is a happy and healthy year for all of you.  Now get cooking!

Our Cleveland-inspired Christmas Dinner

After a nerd-tastic Christmas morning filled with LEGOs, Muppets, Doctor Who, video games and Monty Python, Scott and I cooked our Cleveland-inspired Christmas dinner.

The best gift that Scott and I gave each other this Christmas was a day off.

We had visited Scott’s parents a few weekends ago for an early Christmas. And on Christmas Eve, my parents, sister, Scott and I met halfway between Virginia and Cleveland for our fourth annual Christmas Eve lunch. So that meant we had a full day off on Sunday to stay at home, relax, and not worry about work.

Honestly, this was the first day in over four months where we had an entire day completely to ourselves.

Part of our Christmas Dinner spread, including sausage stuffing, cured salmon, bacon brussel sprouts and a roast from Geauga Farms

So after the most nerd-tastic Christmas morning we’ve ever had, it was time to cook!

I’ve said countless times here that I don’t like cooking. But one of the things I’ve realized this year from exploring more of Cleveland’s restaurants is the importance of eating local at home, in addition to when we’re out.

Over the last few months, I’ve been trying to cook more and working in more local ingredients. I haven’t been 100% successful at this, but our little steps here and there have started to make a difference.

Because of this, Scott and I wanted to make a Christmas dinner that was inspired by some of the delicious food we’ve had this year.

One of my contributions to Christmas Dinner: Baby Blue Salad with crumbled blue cheese, blackberries, pecans and pears

We started with one of my favorite things I learned at this Fall’s Fabulous Food Show: cured salmon. We added lemon zest to the lime and grapefruit zest we tried last time. And I’m happy to say the Ruhlman’s Twenty recipe still held up the second time around!

For one of our sides, I then took inspiration from a dish I love at Deagan’s in Lakewood. Scott’s always claimed to not be a fan of brussel sprouts. But after I had Deagan’s amazing pork belly brussel sprouts at an Ohio Blogging meetup, I knew that if Scott mixed bacon with the vegetable, he’d be won over.

My other contribution to Christmas dinner: bacon and brown sugar brussel sprouts

Deagan’s does it much, much better than I could ever dream of doing, but I used a bacon and brown sugar brussel sprouts recipe I found online for our Christmas dinner.   Scott admitted when I came home from work yesterday that he enjoyed it so much at Christmas dinner, he had brussel sprout leftovers for lunch.

Scott having vegetables for lunch? That’s unheard of!

Scott slicing our roast from Geauga Family Farms

Our main course was courtesy of Geauga Family Farms.  I wanted to try out a CSA for meat (we don’t eat enough vegetables for a vegetable-share) so through our friend’s subscription we ordered a small box of their grass-fed beef. For $63, we got:

  • 5 pounds ground beef (at least 90% lean)
  • 4 steaks (2 sirloin and 2 T-bone, Porter or Strip)
  • 1 roast (approx. 2.5 pounds)

The roast was the perfect size for our 2-person Christmas dinner. Scott cooked it up with some mushrooms, bacon and the fresh spices leftover from the other dishes. It was so juicy and delicious that I can’t wait to try the rest of beef that came in our “Box o’ Beef.”

The salmon, brussel sprouts and roast – along with the salad, homemade vinaigrette and sausage stuffing – were perfectly complemented by the Spann Chardonnay Viognier blend I picked up at Miss WineOH’s Market Ave tasting and bottle of Amador Foothill’s Late Harvest Semillon Scott and I picked up at Light Bistro. I’m a huge fan of the blend’s rich flavor, and the strong honey notes in the Semillon were a welcome addition.

The sweets from Hungry Bee that we picked up at the Fabulous Food Show really pushed our mini-pecan pie and ice cream dessert over the top - so good (and pretty)!

Handmade sweets from Chef Kimberly McCune’s Hungry Bee topped our dessert, ensuring our dinner was just as deliciously sweet, as it was savory.

I will fully admit there was some highly stressful moments as Scott and I cooked dinner together and maybe a couple instances of me yelling my head off about something. Cooking still causes completely irrational stress in me. However, the more I do it, the more comfortable I’m becoming with certain things.  And I’m seeing how you can make something work, even if you’ve messed something up in a recipe.

I needed a lot of this to unwind after cooking!

The valuable lessons I learned, coupled with the accomplishment I felt at cooking Christmas dinner made our relaxing day at home so much better.

Next up? New Year’s Day dinner with pork, lentils and more brussel sprouts. In fact, I need to go draft up our West Side Market shopping list right now!


If you’re really curious what we cooked, here are the recipes Scott and I used with some modifications where noted: