You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Cocktails’ category.

Our dear friends are expecting twins in only a few short weeks. Our babies will be born within weeks of each other, and it has been such a treat to be pregnant together. Because the twin’s mama is the tiniest tot on the planet, she has been placed on bed rest until the babies make their appearance.

So, on Thursday night, Brad and I brought some dinner to their house to hang out and catch up while chowing down on a sausage and goat cheese macaroni bake. Because of the bed rest, our friends weren’t able to use their Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra tickets. So, we were the lucky beneficiaries.

On Saturday night, the main man and I

headed to Cincinnati’s Historic Music Hall.

Music Hall is easily one of the city’s most beautiful landmarks. It was built in 1878, and it is such an experience to sit in the hall and think about all of the people who have sat in the seats and enjoyed the performing arts in one way or another over all of the 100+ years of this hall’s existence.

This is what you walk into as you come in the front doors:

(iPhone photo)

And here is the symphony warming up (our neighbor is in the back row- he is a percussionist):

And check out this chandelier. It is massive, and sparkly, and breathtaking. And it weighs a mere 2 tons!

The domed center of the hall is an oil painting that is original to the hall. It depicts the Allegory of the Arts.

The evening was delightful.

After the show, we stopped off at Senate, a gourmet street food restaurant in the Over the Rhine neighborhood of Cincinnati.

Senate has the best appetizer in the city.

Poutine fries. Oh my.

Crispy french fries smothered in soft and salty cheese curd, braised short ribs, and a gravy sauce.

(Again, the iPhone photo- I promise it looked better in real life!)

Fuh-get-about-it. Poutine fries make my life.

I ordered a lemonade to drink, and our server brought over a raspberry infused lemonade in a martini glass for me. It was the prettiest pink mocktail I have ever seen. Delicious to boot!

So, last night I decided I would try to recreate the Berry Lemon Mocktail.

And guess what? I’m pretty sure I succeeded.

And so today, I shall share the recipe with ya. And I will encourage you to throw in some booze if you imbibe at all. Because while this mocktail is delightful… lets be honest, a cocktail is WAY Better.

I think this recipe will end up making about 4 drinks.

Start with 1 cup of berries. I happened to have both blackberries and raspberries, so I threw them both into the glass.

Now add 1/2 cup of sugar.

And you are done!!

Drink up!

OK, not really.

Get out your muddler. Do you have a muddler? Randomly, I do. And this may have been the first time I have ever used it. If you don’t have a muddler, use a spoon or fork and mash the berries and sugar together.

Keep mashing.

Until it looks like this.

Now, let those berries and the sugar sit together and hang out. Get to know one another. For about 10 minutes.

While the berries and sugar get acquainted, let’s squeeze some lemons.

I used 3 lemons to procure 1 cup of lemon juice.

Get out a pitcher and a strainer.

And pour your berry mixture in.

Seeds = bad.

Sweet seedless berry juice = good.

On

And 1 1/4 cup of water.

Mix it up.

Looking pretty and pink!

Now, get out a glass. Fill it about half way with your berry and lemon juice mixture.

I actually am a weirdo and enjoy having seeds in my drink, so I threw in a spoonful of the seeds from the strainer.

You can certainly skip this step.

Now fill your glass to the top with seltzer water. It adds a bubble and a sparkle.

Top off your drink with a whole berry or two along with a sprig of mint.

Yum-a-lum-a-ding-dong!!

I think this would taste pretty delicious with a generous splash of vodka or tequila or rum.

So have at it!

The drink of the spring!

Happy Monday Peeps!

XO,

Leah

Advertisements

I love entertaining.

I especially love it when it includes dear friends, and the time spent together is easy and effortless.

I love to cook for these events, but I am big on being a guest at my own party. I DO NOT want to be in the kitchen cooking or cleaning while all of my friends are enjoying drinks, company, and food. No thank ya.

I follow the most fabulous Ina Garten’s advice for throwing a party. Make everything ahead of time, and don’t be afraid to purchase things to serve. Not every item served has to be a fancy to-do.

One of my favorite party treats is a cheese tray. It is super simple to throw together, and it goes like hotcakes. Rather, it goes like really good cheese.

So, a while back we had friends over for a casual meal and time spent together.

Here is what was served. Everything was made ahead of time.

A simple salad with goat cheese phyllo pockets:

To make the pockets, simply cut phyllo dough into 4″x4″ squares (approx. 3 squares for each pocket). Place the first square on a hard, flat surface. Slather it with butter. Then top it with a second sheet of phyllo. Slather that with butter. Then top it with a third sheet of phyllo dough. In the center of the layered squares, place a 1 oz round of goat cheese (plain or flavored).

Gather up the edges of the phyllo and give them a twist at the top to create a pocket.

Pop them into the oven at 350 for 15-20 minutes. Keep an eye on them. You want them to be golden and brown.

I just threw a squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper over the salad. Top the greens with the phyllo goat cheese pockets.

Caprese salad:

Slice tomatoes, slice fresh mozzarella, and layer it up. Give it a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and some extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle the whole thing with basil, salt and pepper.

Yep, that was easy.

For the main dish, I made The Pioneer Woman’s Spicy Pulled Pork.

Photo courtesy of thepioneerwoman.com

The Pulled Pork cooks slow and low for hours, so I timed it to pull it out of the oven about 20 minutes before guests arrived. I shredded it with 2 forks, then kept it warm on the stove.

To top the Pulled Pork, I made a super simple cabbage slaw.

It is just thinly sliced cabbage, a little oil, lime juice, a good amount of salt, and a healthy sprinkle of pepper. Mix it up!

Then, I decided that the only thing better than Spicy Pulled Pork sandwiches would be Spicy Pulled Pork tacos.

So, I busted out the tortillas, and I loaded up bowls with a plethora of delicious toppings.

Truth be told, I was not too hungry by dinner time because I had snacked on taco toppings all dang day.

No. Self. Control.

Let’s see: chopped tomatoes, cilantro, crumbled Mexican cheese, shredded cheddar, sour cream, salsa, and lime juice.

Mmmmmmm.

For a sweet treat, I threw together a simple fruit salad.

Here is what I think make a solid fruit salad- citrus and berries flanked by other fruit favorites.

Here is what I think makes a nasty fruit salad- bananas. They get mushy and brown and their flavor penetrates every other fruit. Bleck. Leave them out.

There ya have it. Easy entertaining. We had a couple of bottles of wine, and friends brought dessert and cocktails to share.

Love it.

Don’t be afraid to have people over for dinner. Serve easy comfortable food. Everyone appreciates a night off from cooking, and I’m sure that they would love an invite to a dinner at your house.

I think I need to throw a party soon. Yep, I think so.

Love ya.

XO,

Leah

Oh football season.

How I love thee.

Not because I enjoy watching football.

I don’t really. I mean, I tolerate it. And it is fine, but it isn’t really my thing.

I have never really gotten it. I understand the game, but it is pretty darn boring. Lots of commercials and very little playing. But I also recognize that I am in the minority.

What IS my thing are game day treats.

And Game Day Treats make me love football season.

I have the easiest gamed day treats for you today.

Ever.

First up, stuffed mushrooms.

They require a store bought item that allows you to cheat big time.

Start by preheating your oven to 350.

And grab these ingredients:

Some baby bellas

One package of frozen spinach and artichoke dip

Some bread crumbs

Get out a sheet pan and cover it with tin foil. The tin foil serves no purpose other than making clean up a snap.

And when cooking for a game, who wants to worry about cleaning up a mess? Not this girl, and certainly not this girl’s main man.

Drizzle a little oil.

Take the stems off of your shrooms, and lay them on the pan.

Give them a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Now microwave your dip just to defrost it.

Please ignore the neon color- I was taking these photos at night so the color isn’t exactly right.

Take some of that dip, and fill up your mushrooms.

Give them a sprinkle of breadcrumbs, and pop them in the oven.

One app down, and two more to go.

The other two are as easy as the first.

Isn’t that fantastic?

Next up, Skyline Chili dip.

Do you know Skyline? If you are from Cincinnati or somewhere near here, I’m sure you have had it.

And you either love it or hate it- there is really no in between.

I happen to love it. Traditionally, Skyline Chili is either enjoyed on a small hotdog with cheese, onion, and mustard piled on top OR it is poured on some spaghetti and then topped with cheese.

For the dip, you’ll need a whopping 3 ingredients plus the chips.

Here is what you’ll need:

4 ounces of cream cheese

1 10 1/2 ounce can of Skyline chili (or other canned chili would work)

1/2 cup of shredded cheddar

Slather the cream cheese (if it is softened, it is easier) on the bottom of an oven proof bowl.

Now pour in your chili.

Sprinkle on your cheddar cheese.

Now pop that into you oven to join the mushrooms in the cooking party.

Mushrooms cook for about 20 minutes, and the chili dip for about 15.

Two down!

One more, and this one is my personal favorite, to go.

Here is what you need:

Some mini buns- I found these small pretzel rolls at Kroger, and Holy Moly… they were good

Some cheese- I used a combo of gouda and cheddar

1 green apple

Dijon mustard

Slice the buns in half. On the top half, spread a little butter and give it a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Then, place your cheddar on the bottom half.

Please note, I’m using foil again for easy peasy clean up!

Add on your gouda.

Oh, sweet Nancy.

Then, either pop it into your oven or into your toaster oven for 5-6 minutes. The goal is ooey-gooey melty cheese.

Pull it out of the oven when it looks like this:

Now, I scooped up that cheese and piled it on the bun.

I didn’t want to waste it!!

Put the slices of apple on the cheese.

And a dab of dijon on the top half of the bun.

Three down!

Now, what to drink… what to drink…

In one of my foodie magazines, I found a dee-lish recipe for a winter sangria.

Here is what you’ll need:

Red or white wine

Ginger Ale

Club Soda

Honey

Green Apple

Orange

Pomegranate seeds

If you are looking for a fun and kid-friendly drink, you can substitute the wine with black cherry juice.

First, put slices of apple and orange in the bottom of your glass.

Add in a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds.

Put in a little ice.

Side story: These mini ice cubes come from trays like my Grandma Clarke had when I was growing up. Every time I pop them into a drink I think of her. She was great, and I miss her.

Now pour in a cup of wine (you can do more or less if you’d like)

Add in a teaspoon of maple syrup, about 1/4 cup of ginger ale, and 1/4 cup of club soda.

Serve it all up together!

Now, that is a game day treat.

Right??

Even if your team disappoints, this food will not.

Happy Hump Day Friends!

XO, Leah

It seems impossible that my ears are burning from the cold air whipping around as I walked our ding-dongs tonight.

Just a week ago, I was soaking up the sun and drinking mai-tais in Hawaii.

I’ve mentioned that while we were there, we had some incredible meals.

And none of them rocked my world more than my Uncle Steve’s red snapper.

Yowza.

I learned that this fish dish of his was what he made for my Aunt Lynda on their very first date. No wonder she came back for date #2!

Since leaving Hawaii, I have been dreaming about that dish. So, I decided to make it tonight to momentarily transport us back to the warm ocean breeze (you know, away from the cold fall blustery gusts of Ohio).

Now, I faced a couple of problems right off the bat.

1. I live in Ohio.

2. You cannot get the Hawaiian Red Snapper  (one of the only Red Snapper varieties to not be overfished and on the “do not eat” list) in Ohio.

3. If you could get the whole darn thing, Brad and I could not eat an entire fish.

4. Who would eat the eyeballs and brain without Steve here?

So, I set out to make a more mainland friendly version. All of the ingredients I used are easily found in Ohio, and I have both a chicken and a seafood version. So, if fish isn’t for you… stick around for the chicken.

Hang tight.

And hang loose.

I’ll walk ya through Uncle Steve’s recipe, and at the end I’ll give you our mainland version.

Dear Fish,

Thank you for giving your life for us. It meant a lot. Truly.

You were delicious.

XO,

Leah

Those are fish guts.

Know who likes fish guts?

This little guy.

So, this big guy shared the guts with the little guy.

Steve took the whole gutless fish and placed it on a Ti leaf, sprinkled it with salt and pepper, and then wrapped another Ti leaf around it. He wrapped the whole bundle in foil, and he put it on the grill.

It both grilled AND steamed it.

Magical.

Here he is all cooked up.

Squeeze a little lemon on our buddy, Mr. Fish.

And a bit of soy sauce.

Now.

Oh now.

Now is the part that changed me.

On this plate is chopped garlic, ginger, and macadamia nuts.

Yes, please.

In this pan is oil. When it gets to the perfect temperature, the oil will bubble a bit around the chopsticks.

When it bubbles, toss in your plate of wonder.

Well, don’t toss.

That’s hot oil you are dealing with. And it could splatter. And that would hurt.

As soon as it hits the oil, oh Sweet Mary Patricia.

It is the smell of the islands.

When it gets a little golden, you are golden.

And you should pull it off of the heat.

Take that whole sizzling pan and pour it over Mr. Fish.
It crackles and adds those flavors to the entire dish.

Sprinkle it generously with chinese parsley (aka cilantro) and green onion.

Did I mention that Mr. Fish had to lose his tail?

Know why?

Because the house we rented had a small grill, and poor Mr. Fish couldn’t quite fit.

Look at that spread!

Pretty fantabulous.

In Hawaii, we had this with pad thai, white rice, seared ahi tuna, and a delicious green salad.

The after dinner show was pretty entertaining too.

Uncle Steve partook in the fish eyeball.

I cannot overstate how nasty this eyeball looked. The lens of the eyeball looked like a small white eyeball.

Sick.

But Steve is an island boy, through and through.

So, he slurped up the ball of eye.

Now, this is my cousin.

He is my uncle’s mini-me.

And he wanted the other eyeball.

At the very least, he wanted to be like his dad.

By the looks of his face, I’m not so sure he actually wanted the eyeball.

And believe me, he was even more unsure he wanted the eyeball once it was in his mouth.

Ha.

Did I mention that I’m from a family of good eaters?

Now, trust me when I say that even if you are not a seafood person you have to try a version of this dish.

It is so delicious, and on a cool fall day it will take you away to the islands.

I roasted some chicken tenders that were coated with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

350 for about 15-20 min (depends on the thickness).

I also wanted to try this dish with tilapia- a pretty easy-to-find fish in Ohio.

I used the frozen version from Kroger.

Get out a piece of parchment paper, and give it a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Place your defrosted fish down and sprinkle them with salt and pepper.

Cover with another sheet of parchment paper.

We’re making a little pocket to steam the fish in while its in the oven.

This method keeps the fish super moist.

Have I ever mentioned that I rather loathe the word  moist?

Start at one corner and fold it like this:

Move over a couple of inches, and fold it again:

Keep going and folding!

Until it looks like this.

It doesn’t have to be perfectly sealed, but you want a pretty good pocket for some solid steam action.

Put it on a piece of foil or on a pan so that if juices start to flow, they don’t flow directly to the bottom of your oven.

Pop that into the oven with the chicken for the last 10 minutes of the chicken cooking.

Again, this will vary based on the filet’s thickness.

If you have paper thin tilapia filets, you could need as little as 5-6 minutes.

Take a peek, and if they are white all the way through- they are done!

Now, I fried up the garlic, ginger, and macadamia nut mixture.

I’m going to insist on mac nuts. Normally, I would say to be flexible and use what you have.

But the mac nuts take it over the top.

They really do!

Put your meat on a pan, and drizzle the most flavorful goodness over it.

Please note, I forgot to add a squeeze of lemon juice and about 1/4 cup of soy sauce.

You should not forget this step.

But rest assured, if you do, it will still be deeeee-lish!

Top with cilantro and green onion, and pop it on a plate!

I served it up with a roasted butternut squash casserole with blue cheese in it (recipe is coming soon). So stinking good.

I’m convinced that the garlic/ginger/mac nut along with the cilantro/green onion topping would be delicious on just about anything.

I’m thinking that I might need to try it on shrimp and scallops next.

Yes, I think so.

Know what would be perfect with this?

A pina colada.

Or a mai tai.

Or a glass of crisp white wine.

Have a great weekend!

If you are feeling inspired, transport yourself to the islands with this dish.

XO,

Leah

Last weekend, the main man and I indulged.

Big time.

Permit me to explain.

In March of this year, Brad and I traveled to NYC for our friend’s wedding. My man married our dear friends.

Did you know that the main man can marry and bury people?

In fact, he is marrying my brother and my future sister-in-law this weekend.

But that is a different story for a different day.

Well, our newlywed friends sent us a very generous thank you that funded a fancy pants night out at the best restaurant in our great city.

BOCA.

Be still my heart.

This place gives me a quiver and a palpitation and a bit of sweaty palms.

It is so good.

So, Friday we got all fancified and headed out.

Upon arrival, I ordered a dirty.

With blue cheese stuffed olives.

Oh, Boca.

You, my friend, are starting off of the right foot.

At Boca, you choose either 2 courses or 3 courses plus dessert for a prix fixe price.

I love meals like this.

It encourages appetizers and pasta dishes where an a la carte menu might convince you to stay away.

When it is all bundled together, it is like a super special adult happy meal.

But first, the bread.

That darn grilled bread.

Smoky, garlicky, and a little salty.

Holy moly.

I could have stuffed myself on that alone, but I was committed to pacing myself.

I’m disciplined like that.

From our seat, we could see the excitement that was happening in the kitchen.

I love an open kitchen.

Our first course came.

My husband has had the opportunity to interview Chef David Falk (Boca’s founder and head chef), and David said that Boca was the house that the brussel sprout built.

I know, I know.

Brussel sprouts. Yuck.

But not these.

They are caramelized and served with a day boat scallop with brown butter truffle vinaigrette.

They taste like a savory candy, and they remind me that I am a seriously amateur cook.

Brad started with the grilled bread topped with Goat Cheese and Onion Argo Dolce.

I don’t even know what that means.

I assume it means drool-on-your-chin-delicious.

‘Cause that it is what it was.

Sorry about the blurry pic. I was trying to be a little inconspicuous with my iPhone photos!

Next, came Brad’s pasta dish.

Spicy linguini.

Again.

The drool.

Oh hey there wine.

Nice to see ya.

You are delicious too.

Now, I only ordered two courses while Brad ordered three.

I wanted to make sure I had room to eat every delectable bite of food that I did order.

But because Boca is fabulous, they brought me a complimentary pasta dish so Brad didn’t have to eat alone.

I had one perfect sweet corn ravioli with brown butter and black summer truffle.

Have you ever had a meal that included truffle?

I have, and I’m hooked.

I must order any item that includes them.

And I may or may not have bought a small $12 bottle of white truffle oil at the grocery.

OH. MY. DOG.

Truffles are seriously worth the hype.

Earthy. Savory. Aromatic. Perfect Perfectness.

Whew.

Time for the main course.

I went for the filet.

With swiss chard, rosemary potatoes, king crab (like a big ole’ hunk of the good stuff), bearnaise and bourdelaise sauce.

There is a quite famous steak restaurant here in Cincinnati that is also higher-end and delicious.

This Boca filet blew the other steak out of the water.

Brad had the seared chicken with sausage, artichoke, and vermouth risotto.

If I could make chicken like this, I would eat it three meals a day.

And for dessert.

Dessert was sorbet for Brad:

And a trio of cheesecake, chocolate cake, and creme brulee for me:

I could have died happy after that meal.

Here are my conclusions after dining at Boca.

One, I wish I had the money to eat here everynight.

I don’t.

Two, I wish I had the money to eat here once a month.

I don’t.

Three, I shall start a Boca savings account now.

Four, I love to eat. And I love to cook.

It fills me up.

But man, when it comes to cooking, I really don’t know a whole heck of a lot. I left Boca with such a respect for David Falk, who has trained under master chefs around the world. He has studied, honed, and dare I say perfected his craft.

I love experiencing or seeing someone that is a true master at his or her craft.

It is inspiring.

So, while I know that I’m never going to achieve his types of food (well, at least not without formal training, apprenticeships with chefs around the world, and WAY more hours of practice), I do know that I will continue to work hard at getting better at the things I love.

Work hard.

Love what I work on.

Save pennies for next trip.

It must be sooner rather than later.

Have a great three day weekend.

If you can, take your special someone to somewhere special!

XO,

Leah

Because I’m on vacation, and I can think of nothing more intriguing to write about than cocktails… I give you my favorite drink.

The Vodka Dirty Martini

It is a cocktail with an appetizer like quality- you know, because you nosh on some olives while you sip. Does life get better than that?

The dirty martini is my go-to pre-dinner drink. It is salty and delicious. I don’t really groove on the gin, so I make my martinis with vodka… specifically the Goose. It may be expensive, but I promise that it is worth it.

Warning: If you don’t like green olives, you aren’t going to like this drink.

In case you don’t know how… here is how you make the perfecto dirty martini:

Put 2 oz. vodka, 1/2 oz. vermouth, and a whole lotta ice into a shaker.

Shake it like a polaroid picture.

Pour into a martini glass.

Top off with a splash of olive juice.

Garnish with some olives. If you are feeling extra crazy, stuff some blue cheese into the center of the olives.

Mmmmmmmm. Mmmmmmmm. Mmmmmmmm.

I’m off to the beach again. The sun is shining and the weather is perfect.

Happy Tuesday!

Leah

“Summer, summer, summertime

Time to sit back and unwind”

-The Great Lyricist Fresh Prince

Sometimes I like to start out a post with a thought provoking inspired quote. Like the one above.

You are welcome.

I love, love, love Summer. I don’t even mind the raging heat and unbelievable humidity.

I love the warmth, I love the long days, I love the way I feel a little more alive.

I also love summer produce.

Like peaches.

Mmmmm, peaches.

Is there much better than the perfectly ripe, juice running down your chin, summer peach?

I think not.

So, in honor of summer and the peach, I give you a healthy summer lunch.

This Grilled Peach Summer salad takes about 20 minutes start to finish… even less if you have a gas grill.

Here is what you’ll need for two adults.

Salad: Spinach, 2 peaches, 2 green onions, 1 piece of cooked bacon (if you happen to have it on hand, which I usually do!), 1 tomato, some cheese (I used aged goat cheese- but parmesan would work. But not parmesan that comes crumbled in a can- help me now if that is your parm of choice).

Dressing: 2 T. Dijon, 2 T. vinegar, 6 T. extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper

Croutons: Some bread, oil, salt, pepper

Go light your grill so that we can throw our peaches and bread on there in a bit.

Mmm. Have you ever had a grilled peach? They are goo-ood.

I think we should start with the dressing.

I have this handy-dandy salad dressing container with dressing instructions on it. My mama stuffed it in my stocking one year for Christmas, and I love it. I think it is from Crate and Barrel if you are interested.

Anywho, take 2 T of dijon mustard:

Add in 2 T vinegar (I used raspberry blush vinegar, and it was perfect):

Now, 6 T of olive oil:

Top off with a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and shake it.

Shake it like you mean it.

Dressing done!

I like it when the salad is ready to go before grilling peaches so they stay nice and warm, so lets do that. Shall we?

Each salad is a couple of cups of spinach topped with a 1/2 of a chopped tomato, a chopped green onion, 1/2 piece of bacon, and some shreds of cheese.

Now we shall prepare the peaches.

Pick a firm peach rather than an super ripe one. You don’t want it smushing on the grill. No one likes a smushed peach.

Smush is a highly technical culinary term.

Cut the peaches into quarters. You should also remove the pit at this point. I would assume that you already knew that, but better safe than sorry.

Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper.

I was really tempted to eat one at this point.

But I practiced patience and restraint.

And instead I ate an extra peach that happened to be sitting on the counter.

I said I practiced restraint. I did not say I perfected it.

While we are prepping for the foods that are going to be grilled, lets get our bread ready. Two thick slices.

Schmear and schlather the olive oil on the bread.

If you go to culinary school, you learn terms like schmear and schlather, I think.

Sprinkle that with a little salt and pepper.

Lets head to the grill.

Put your peaches and bread on the hot grill.

I think peaches are the prettiest fruit. Well, peaches and strawberries.

Just don’t tell grapes I said that. Or bananas.

I really don’t know what I’m talking about.

Maybe it is the caffeine from an iced coffee surging through my system.

Back to the peaches, let them get some grill marks on the grill for about 3 minutes.

Give them a turn. And the bread too.

3 more minutes on that side. Then one more flip.

2-3 more minutes and then pull the peaches off of the grill.

Bread too.

Slice your peaches and arrange them on your salad.

Cube your bread thus creating croutons.

Toss those on top.

Drizzle with a bit of the dressing.

Oooooh-eeeeeee

That looks good.

It was good.

Want to know the only way to make it even more of a summertime dish?

Serve it on the patio. With a glass of crisp, refreshing, cold Sauvignon Blanc.

And this ding dong on the side:

Happy eating friends,

LW

Sometimes life goes your way, and someone special enters your life.

Meet Chef Michael.

Michael is a dearly beloved friend of the main man and me. We met him a couple of years ago, and since then have had some of our most amazing Cincinnati meal experiences with Michael.

Beyond making good food, he makes for great company.

So, earlier this week we got the call from Michael that we always answer in the affirmative.

“Dinner?”

Um, yes.

Forever yes.

I walked in to his house to this:

And this:

And her:

Can you say man after my own heart?

So, I have some recipes for ya. These are Chef Michael’s recipes- did I mention that this man was trained at the Culinary Institute of America in NYC?  Or that he has served dinner to four presidents, Frank Sinatra, Mick Jagger, ME (wait, how’d I get on this list?), and the list goes on and on?

Side note: if you ever have the pleasure of meeting Michael, ask him his Nancy Reagan story.

But first a tour of his outdoor oasis. Because when you eat at Michaels, you are eating with some special friends in a special place.

Like Homer:

And Angel Jerry Garcia:

There are candles hanging from trees:

And pretty trellises:

And the biggest basil plant I have ever seen:

And this custom built, angel-guarded charcoal grill:

Thank you, that concludes our very short tour.

Lets cook!

First, if you want one of those cocktails that I’m sipping on, here’s what you’ll need:

Champagne, Peach Schnapps, Berries (sliced strawberries, blackberries, raspberries)

Put some berries in a glass, pour in a little of the Peach Schnapps, and top with Champagne.

Could that be any more simple?

It is as delicious as it is simple. It’s Friday- try some!

For the burger recipe… pay attention. Cause this burger was yum-a-lum-a-ding-dong.

I chopped (yes, I earn my meal- Michael makes me say things like “yes, Chef!”, “whatever you say Chef!”, “I don’t know what happened to that bacon chef!”) a bunch of parsley and one bunch of green onions. Then, I grated an 8 oz block of cheddar. I finished by finely chopping up about 6 pieces of that fried bacon.

Then, I ate another two pieces.

Don’t tell Michael.

I sliced tomato and washed lettuce for toppers.

Then, I sliced up a white onion (1/4 in thick) so Michael could get them ready for grilling with a drizzle of oil:

And some seasoned salt, pepper, and a sprinkle of parsley:

Throw those bad boys on the grill:

Oh, hey there corn. Nice to see ya.

After about 6 minutes on a very hot grill, flip over the onions.

Truth be told, I flipped those onions.

I never said I was an expert at flipping onions. Or grilling.

So, while those onions are grilling lets make some burger patties.

Ground beef (80/20- I’m guessing 1 1/2 lbs), the chopped green onion, the chopped parsley, the chopped bacon, the majority of that shredded cheddar.

Michael added a sprinkle of salt and pepper and a dash of worcestershire (thank you dictionary.com- that word is hard to spell) sauce.

He folded all of the ingredients together and then made patties. You should see this man make a burger patty. He could whip out 6 perfectly formed patties to my one patty. Master.

He gives each one a slap before putting it on the plate. I think it must be necessary to achieve his level of deliciousness, so I say go for it!

Now, to the screaming hot grill. Just about 3 minutes on each side.

Oh hey there fellas. You are doing a great job in all of that smoke.

I’ll just be over here snapping pictures.

You know, away from the smoke.

Go inside and build your burger.

Man, oh man.

The sign on Michael’s back door speaks the truth:

The weather this weekend in Ohio is looking pretty darn perfect.

I say pour a glass of berry champagne and fire up the grill!

Happy Friday,

Leah

Want to know what makes me really, truly happy?

My sister’s Justin Bieber impression:

Seeing the man I love the most laugh his hardest:

These two:

Watching my sister’s reaction to certain Bachelorette weekend conversations with my brother’s future bride:

One of these guys on a Friday night:

The fact that when I did a Googe image search for a dirty martini, this is what came up first:

That “What? I didn’t know. I promise. I was just exploring” look that dogs give ya after traipsing through mud then running through every room of your house.

Ok, maybe thats not joy. But this picture is:

A lifelong commitment to one person through thick and thin, good and bad, happiness and sorrow, children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren:

Curling up with a good book- just finished this one, and it was Oh, So Good.

Cheese:

An ill-fated attempt at a self-portrait. Seriously, I am the worst at these, but I still love the picture. It makes me smile.

A great pair of heels- the putting them on and wearing them out…

and then the feeling of taking them off and sinking my feet into slippers after a night out.

I think I need these.

No really, Need.

Yes, I think so.

Spontaneous dance routines and performances:

Lifelong girlfriends.

The kind of friends that knew you when you had a bad perm and wore biker shorts.

Outside.

To School.

They were in style.

I swear.

Mine had a hot pink stripe down one side and a hot green stripe down the other.

I may or may not have worn them with some mis-matched slouch socks.

Planning an upcoming vacation:

And this song:

Seriously, I love this song. And NOW. The video. Oh man.

Now, it really brings me joy.

Life is full.

My cup runneth over.

Leah

I hate the writing in the Twilight books.

But, somehow I loved (OK, maybe I was obsessed with) the series.

I loathe a raw mushroom.

But, cook them up, and Sweet Sassy.

Hearing the song “Hang on Sloopy” on the car radio makes me want to change the channel (sorry OSU fans).

But, hearing the song at a wedding… look out dance floor.

One of my favorite places on earth is Rocky Fork Lake.

But, I have an irrational fear of lake fish so I never get in.

I’m pretty sure this is what I would run into, so I think my fear is justified.

Truth be told, I don’t know what is scarier… the man or the fish.

That’s all.

Thank you and good morning,

Leah

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 613 other followers

Advertisements