Monday, February 25, 2013

Unique Taco Seasoning Mix

I have to admit, I love tacos. I really, really do.

Yes, they can be a bit messy and sloppy at times. (Best to avoid ordering them on a first date!) But I still love 'em. And so does my family.

Which is precisely why I was so excited when Paul Courtwright of The Shoreby Club chose "Smokin' Chicken Tacos with Roasted Vegetables & Cilantro Slaw" as his main recipe in my book (see page 50 in the book).

And which is precisely why I am also thrilled -- thrilled, I tell you! -- to have discovered a really tasty, premium-quality, hand-blended taco seasoning mix with a little kick that's guaranteed to wow your socks off. It's called "Cook with 2 Chicks Taco Seasoning." (Cute name, right?)

Ok, ok. In the interest of full disclosure, I feel compelled to tell you that it was developed and created by my ultra creative sister-in-law, Carlinne, and her friend, Kim. They are, in fact, the brains and talent behind the highly popular food blog called (appropriately enough) Cook with 2 Chicks, which is all about "friendship, food, and family."

They have already featured two recipe posts on their blog about how they use this seasoning. One is for Fiesta Tacos with Homemade Corn Tortillas (photo below):

And the other recipe is for Roasted Vegetable Soup (photo below):

This unique seasoning mix is a combination of Carlinne and Kim's favorite spices. And they use only the very best premium ingredients available. Literally. 

The directions on the jar say to "drizzle water in 2 tablespoons of seasoning." This creates a paste that you can adjust to your liking with more or less liquid.

However, you can also just sprinkle the seasoning directly on the food you're preparing (again, to taste).

"I have used it on taco meat, beans, onions, and peppers," says Carlinne.

"I have actually also made a taco 'sauce' where I use a couple tablespoons of tomato paste and garlic, cook that, and add several shakes of the taco seasoning," she continues. "Then I add white wine or chicken stock. I serve the sauce over rice for a quick snack or as a side dish with dinner or lunch."

If you'd like to purchase your very own jar of CW2C Taco Seasoning (only $4.25/jar), just click here.

While you're at it, order an extra jar or two or three as gifts for family and friends!

You -- and they -- are gonna love it. Guaranteed.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Scone Recipe by Popular Demand

I don't know what possessed me to write a post recently about two sweet treats and only include the recipe for one of them. I guess I just thought I'd focus on one.

Boy, was I wrong!

I got so many requests for the recipe of the pictured Cranberry-Tangerine Scones that I figured I better 'fess up right here and now and share it with you. (Didn't mean to be so stingy. Honest!)

So, for all you fellow scone lovers, here ya go!


Makes about 12

2 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar (preferably turbinado) plus more for sprinkling
2 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
6 T. COLD unsalted butter, diced
1 c. heavy cream
1 cup dried cranberries (preferably chopped)
1 tangerine, zested and juiced

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat liner.
  2. Mix first 4 ingredients together. Add butter and mix to a meal. 
  3. Add cream and mix just until incorporated.
  4. Add cranberries, zest, and juice and mix only until all ingredients are evenly distributed. DO NOT OVERMIX! Form into a ball.
  5. Place dough on a lightly floured surface. Flatten to about 1" thick.
  6. Cut shapes out using a heart-shaped cookie cutter (or other plain shape, such as round or square).
  7. Place scones on lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with sugar.
  8. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until golden brown, preferably rotating halfway through baking.
  9. Let cool on rack, then enjoy!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sweet Treats

I just spent the most wonderful -- nay, glorious! -- week with my daughter, son-in-law, and three little grandchildren in Charlotte, NC. Days were spent playing, laughing, and taking naps. They were also spent cooking and baking with the little ones -- natch!

For instance, the kids and I made some extra special heart-shaped Cranberry-Tangerine Scones for their mom.

Getting ready to go in the oven
A perfect golden brown
Believe me, they didn't last long!

But my daughter had something else in mind. You see, she's trying very hard to go organic and healthy. Which is all well and good, except...I have a serious chocolate sweet tooth. And she knows it.

So for Valentine's Day, my daughter did something only a truly loving daughter would do: She made me homemade organic candy bars. But not just any candy bars. Almond Joy candy bars (because both she and I love, love, love coconut).

Photo Credit: Turtlewoman

The recipe came from a really great website called Deliciously Organic. It's super easy. Super quick (5 ingredients, 5 steps). And, surprisingly, super delicious.

The first thing you do is put unsweetened coconut and maple syrup in a food processor and mix. Then you form the mixture into ovals and place an almond on each mound.

Photo Credit: Joy the Baker

Pour on some melted chocolate, refrigerate, and voila! You've just made your very own delectable (and organically healthy!) coconut almond candy bars. Who woulda thought?!

My daughter, Julia, making my special treats

When I took that first bite, my heart and soul danced for joy (pun intended)! Thank you for making such a sweet treat, Julia. I love you, too.

To try this recipe yourself (which you must, trust me!), here it is:

Adapted from Deliciously Organic
Makes 12 bars

2 cups unsweetened coconut
1/3 cup maple syrup
12 whole almonds
6 ounces dark chocolate, melted
1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil

  1. Place coconut and maple syrup in the bowl of a food processor. Process for 2 minutes, until coconut is very moist and clumps together when squeezed between your fingers. 
  2. Place a cooling rack on top of a large baking sheet. Using your hands, take about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the coconut mixture and form it into an oval. Place on the cooling rack. Repeat with remaining coconut. 
  3. Place an almond on top of each coconut mound. 
  4. Whisk together the chocolate and coconut oil until smooth. Using a large spoon, spoon about a tablespoon of chocolate over each coconut/almond mound. 
  5. Refrigerate for 10 minutes or until firm. Serve. (They will keep in the refrigerator for about 4 days.)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Autographed Bookplates Now Available!

I have to admit, I was thrilled to learn that lots of people were buying my book on the Internet or even at places outside of Cleveland. I was also honored to find out so many people were sending my book as a gift to their friends and family -- either in other cities, other states, or even other countries!

And although I was privileged enough to be able to sign books for those who met me personally at a book signing, I know there were many others I never met who would have wanted theirs signed, too.

Now that will be possible!

I am currently offering a personally signed bookplate to anyone who wants one, either for themselves or as a gift for someone else.

The bookplates are glossy, adhesive stickers that measure 4 1/4" wide x 3 1/3" high. You just peel off the back and stick it on the inside front cover of the book. Voila! Now your book is signed!

The bookplates are only $1 each (including shipping and handling). Order as many as you'd like. The only thing I ask is that you're clear in letting me know who I should sign each bookplate to and where I should mail them to.

Ordering is easy. Just click on the link to the right on this page where it says (simply enough) "Order a Signed Bookplate." Then just "add to cart" and process it through PayPal. Easy, peasy!

If you have any questions or specific requests, please feel free to write a comment below or contact me directly at

Many thanks!


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Downtown Cleveland Restaurant Week

There's an annual event that involves all the absolute very best Cleveland has to offer in fine dining -- exclusively in the downtown area. It's called, appropriately enough, Downtown Cleveland Restaurant Week.

I have to admit, this is one event both you and I won't want to miss!

As for the details, here are the nitty gritties:

  • The event runs from Friday, February 22, through Sunday, March 3 (covering 2 weekends!).
  • More than 40 downtown restaurants are participating.
  • Each restaurant is offering a fabulous 3-course dinner menu for only $30 for 1-2 diners. (Click here for sample menus.)
  • Select restaurants are also offering a $15 lunch option. (Click here for sample menus.)
  • Select parking lots are providing dirt-cheap $2 parking after 5pm. (But coupon must be printed ahead of time.)
  • Online reservations for select participating restaurants are available through Open Table by clicking here.

Now comes the good part! 

If you bought one of my books and are on a quest to get it signed by all the chefs in it (which I hear many people are actually doing either for the fun of it or as part of a bet!), this would be the PERFECT time!

Here are all the restaurants (and chefs) in my book that are participating in the Downtown Cleveland Restaurant Week:

Blue Point Grille (chef Shawn Cline)

Chinato (chef Zack Bruell)

Cowell & Hubbard (chef Zack Bruell)

Greenhouse Tavern (chef Jonathon Sawyer)

Johnny's Downtown (chef Tim Birkley)
Lola (chef Michael Symon)
Noodlecat (chef Jonathon Sawyer)

Pura Vida by Brandt (chef Brandt Evans)

Plus...certainly not to be overlooked, all diners will be eligible to enter a drawing for a "Downtown Dinner Dream Package" -- which includes (besides a year of downtown dining and a night at the Hyatt Regency) a free copy of my book! Click here for details and entry form.

Bon appetit,