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Archive for November, 2007

If Thanksgiving is all about giving thanks, then I need to give lots of thanks to my mom and dad and my mother and father-in-law for all the yummy food they prepared for us this Thanksgiving.  Below are two pics from Thanksgiving at my parents.  On the left is a picture of the turkey my mom cooked and, of course, my dad carved.  The picture on the right is of the dinner table at my parents.  You can click to see the full size image.

turkey, turkey and more turkey       Thanksgiving dinner table

My mom always goes a bit overboard with the amount of food she prepares, but this year she actually cut down a bit, becuase there was only 4 of us eating.  Good job mom!  I always look forward to my mom’s cooking.  She is the reason why I love to cook.  The menu at my parents Thanksgiving included:

  • one delicious and gigantic Butterball turkey that my brother got for free from work
  • two kinds of homemade stuffing: plain and sausage
  • corn from my in-laws garden, which is so good it tastes like sugar
  • cranberry Jell-o mold
  • mashed potatoes and gravy
  • sweet potatoes and apples
  • rolls
  • 2 pumpkin pies for dessert
  • I brought the chocolate chip cookies

The food at my in-laws was also very tasty.  I don’t have any good pictures, but there was a lot of food for all 16 of us.  I made a carrot cake.   It was my first attempt at carrot cake and it was delicious!  I had been craving carrot cake for weeks, so I enjoyed it a lot.

 carrot cake

Thanks for all the fun and food this Thanksgiving.  It is so wonderful to have two families to celebrate with during the holidays.  It makes it twice as special! 

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Best lasagna ever!

If you like a sweet tasting pasta sauce, then you will love this lasagna recipe.  I always make more sauce than is needed for the lasagna, so that I can freeze it for spaghetti dinner another night. 

lasagna.jpg

Ingredients

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed tomatoes with liquid
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar 
  • 12 ounces cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 9 lasagna noodles, like Barilla no boil
  • 1 pound shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions

  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook beef until brown. Drain. In another skillet over medium heat, cook onion and garlic until onion is translucent. Combine beef, garlic and onion in a large saucepan with tomato paste, crushed tomatoes with liquid, water, oregano, garlic powder, salt, pepper and sugar. Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 1 hour.
  2. While sauce is simmering, blend cottage cheese, Parmesan and egg until smooth. Set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  4. Spread 1 cup of sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Cover sauce with 3 noodles. Cover noodles with one-third of remaining sauce. Top with half the mozzarella. Place another layer of noodles and one of sauce over the mozzarella; top that with the cottage cheese mixture. Top with remaining 3 noodles and remaining sauce.
  5. Bake in preheated oven 30 minutes. Sprinkle remaining mozzarella on top and bake 15 minutes more, until golden and bubbly.

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UPDATE

Don Tequila is back and just as good as ever!  Thanks to another Don Tequila fan, who let me know via a comment to this post, I found out that DT is open again.   Not really sure what happen or why they closed down in the first place.  But, honestly, all that matters is that my favorite Mexican restaurant is back to make me happy.

We went to Don Tequila for dinner last week and had the beef fajitas for two.  Very good as always.  The only difference is that there was broccoli in the mixture of beef and vegetables, which I do not remember being in the dish.   Not bad, I personally did not care for broccoli in my fajitas.

 Glad to have you back Don Tequila!

ORIGINAL POST

What perfect timing.  I create a list of my top five favorite Cleveland restaurants, my first blog post ever, then, one of my top five goes out of business.  Ha!  I had a night of mourning this past Friday when my husband, Joe, and I tried to go to Don Tequlia.  The illuminated sign at the front entrance was not on, but we thought nothing of it, because we saw the vestibule light on.  Well, we walk up to the door, pulled and it was locked.  There was a little note, from the city of Middleburg Heights, posted on the door.  It said something about the locks being changed, becuase they had not paid their rent.  How many enchiladas do I need to eat to pay for their rent?

We got back in the car and tried to think of another Mexican restaurant nearby.  We ended up going to Don Ramon on Pearl Road in Middleburg Heights.  The location is new, I think it just opened a few months ago in August or September.  It is quite festive inside, with lots of bright colors…almost to the point of it being a bit overwhelming.  The service was good.  Joe ordered the fajita combo (chicken, beef, shrimp), which was fresh and tasted good.  I got one of their combos with a beef enchilada, cheese chile rellano, beans and rice.  Both entrees were good, but they were no Don Tequila.  Don Ramon is NOT my new favorite.  It was good, but not great or really memorable in any way.

So, we are on the hunt for a new favorite Mexican restaurant.  Any suggestions?

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Take a look at my slide show of some great food from around the world.  Joe and I love to travel!  Even better, I love to eat when we travel!  I love the fact that if you just drive a few hours from your home, you can find a new special dish of the town or region.  It is even more exciting when you are in a different country.

 This slideshow inlcudes photos of food from our honeymoon in Italy.  One of the most unique dining experiences in Italy was at Il Latina in Florence.  Among many other great dishes from all over Italy, Cancun Mexico and New York City.

Rachael Ray even loves this restaurant and recommends it as one of her favorites.  Il Latina only has two dinner seatings per evening.  Our experience went a little something like this….. The lady who owns our hotel recommended Il Latina for a fun Italian dinner experience.  Joe and I walked to the restaurant only about 10 minutes from our hotel.  We get there about 45 minutes before the first seating and there is already a mob of people standing outside the door.  We find out that many people have called ahead to get their name on the list.  But, we decide to wait and hope for the best.  Finally, a man opens the door and starts screaming the names of the people on the list.  These people push their way through the crowd to the front of the line.  After about 20 minutes of calling the list of names, the man says that he will start taking people who were waiting.  By this time, we have figured out that we need to push our way to the front of the line if we want any chance of getting in.  Luckily, I was standing within a few feet of the man who decides who gets in and he chose us!

So, we are in and rushed to a table with another younger couple from Boston.  They were so nice, she was a buyer for Marshalls or T.J. Maxx or something.  What a great job that sends you to Florence, Italy to scope out the new fashions.  Anyway, here comes the food, food and more food.  There was so much food that it was like a whirlwind dinner, which made it tough to remember each dish specifically.  If I remember correctly, there was soup and salad, crostini and some other appetizer type options.  I got a lamb shank and joe got prime rib for his main entree.  Both were delicious, but Joe’s prime rib was literally one of the best things either of us have ever tasted!  Dessert was a tray of all kinds of sweets.  Then, our new friends from Boston suggested that we have a toast with Limoncello, a lemon flavored liquor made in Italy.  Mmmmmm! 

What an experience.  Good food.  Good company.  Amazing location in Florence, Italy.  We had not idea how much the dinner would cost.  When the bill came, we were a bit suprised at about $75 per person.  But, it was not just the food, it was the experience and the memories to last a lifetime and you can’t put a price on that. 

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Oh my goodness, my first blog post.  This is so exciting!  So, I thought I would start off small, being new to this blogging thing and all.  How about I just tell you about my favorite Cleveland restaurants.  To be a bit more specific, this list would include my favorite restaurants as of this moment 5:11 p.m. November 14, 2007.  This list is constantly changing in my head based on my mood and most recent food/restaurant experiences.   Oh yeah, and this is based on the food only, not the restaurant’s atmosphere.

You can’t go wrong with a top 5 list, right?  Well, here it goes…

Megan’s top 5 favorite Cleveland restaurants!
1.  Conte’s Italian Cafe– Best homemade Italian goodness in town!  the fettuccine alfredo and carbanara will change your life:-) ….. 15266 Sheldon Rd., Brook Park, Ohio 44142

2.  Lolita’s– Congrats to Chef Michael Symon on the Iron Chef victory!  Not only is Lolita a beautiful restaurant with a very relaxing and inviting atmosphere, but the food is incredible and at really reasonable prices.  You must try the crispy chicken livers. ….. 900 Literary Rd., Tremont

3.  Li Wah– The dim sum for lunch here is such a treat!  So many options zooming around the dining room on little carts, plus more options to order off the menu.  Everything is delicious.  Be adventurous and try them all, because if you don’t like one, who cares, it only cost like $2 and then you can say you tried turnip cake. ….. 2999 Payne Ave., Cleveland

4.  Don Tequila – It may be just another Mexican restaurant to some, but to me it rocks!  My husband and I have been here so many times and the service is always fast and polite and the food is consistently yummy.  The fajitas are our favorite out of any we have tasted before.  I could each their enchiladas day and night.  …..  18332 Bagley Rd. Cleveland

5.  Jimmy Johns  This is a nostalgic one for me and I felt like I should give a little love to the “fast food” option.  This place brings me back to my college days and it still tastes just as good.  My fav is #12, the Beach Club.  There are now couple of locations in the Cleveland area, but I am still waiting for one a bit closer to my home.

 Well, there you have it.  My top 5 of the moment. 

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