Thursday, May 26, 2016

Meet Me in Marblehead

Memorial Day weekend is here, and it's time for a road trip. Think sandy beaches, lighthouses, water sports, seafood restaurants and spectacular sunsets - all of this can be yours for the day after a one-hour drive east to Marblehead, Ohio.

The iconic Marblehead Lighthouse

Marblehead lies along SR 163, and an easy out and back trip along this route will give you access to all of the town’s amenities.

Coffee Express in Port Clinton

Just prior to arriving, stop in Port Clinton and grab a cup of joe and a quick breakfast at Coffee Express. Located on W. Second Street, this eatery is popular for its muffins and quiche - try Blueberry Cream Cheese and Raspberry White Chocolate muffins and Farmer’s Quiche loaded with ham, cheeses and veggies.

Once in Marblehead, visit East Harbor State Park and feel the sand between your toes as you stroll along the shores of Lake Erie. The park also includes picnic areas, beaches for sunning and swimming, and several miles of trails for hiking or running.

The Erie Social Shuffleboard Club and Bar

When you’re finished beaching it, it’s time to get social and try your hand at shuffleboard – yes, it’s back! The one-year-old venue, Erie Social, is Lake Erie’s first indoor shuffleboard club and bar. Delightfully decorated with a vintage meets industrial vibe, the club features regulation size shuffleboard courts and tables, old English style dart boards, board games and a full service bar. 

The Sandwich Shoppe adjacent to Erie Social

While there, order some lunch at the adjacent Sandwich Shoppe which serves fresh deli sandwiches like The Catawba – roasted turkey, Fuji apples, crème Brie on cranberry walnut bread and The Freighter – roast beef, red onion, sharp cheddar, arugula, and chipotle mayo on rosemary ciabatta bread. All sandwiches come with your choice of Chardonnay Potato Salad or Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Salad.

Next along the road through Marblehead, peruse the many gift shops, antiques stores and art galleries including Ferguson’s Gallery, which carries unique paintings, art glass, antiques and jewelry, and Christi’s Just for Ewe gift shop known for its fun clothing, jewelry and accessories. The shop also carries nautical-inspired decor, children’s toys, gifts for babies and their famous handmade fudge.


Rocky Point Winery in the historic Marblehead Schoolhouse

When it’s time for a little wine tasting, head to nearby Rocky Point Winery, located in the historic Marblehead Schoolhouse. Owned and operated by Chris and Kim Redfern, this charming winery recently celebrated its first birthday and features native Midwest wines, small plates and a cozy atmosphere for hanging out with friends. Just upstairs from the winery is the Red Fern Inn, which offers four unique rooms for rent, perfect for a romantic evening away.

The tasting room at Rocky Point Winery

And finally, round out your day with a visit to the iconic lighthouse at Marblehead Lighthouse State Park where you can relax for a moment by water’s edge and watch the waves break on the rocky shoreline.

Waves crashing along the Lake Erie shoreline

Monday, May 23, 2016

Potato Salad with Bacon and Sour Cream

Every family has their own recipe for potato salad, and mine is no different. My grandmother, Lucy Ries, added bacon, sour cream and paprika to hers making it the best in the whole world. I could be just a tad bit biased.   

Potato Salad with Bacon and Sour Cream
5 pound bag of red potatoes, peeled* and cut into 1 inch cubes 
(*I like to leave a bit of the skin showing for extra color.)
4 pieces bacon, crispy cooked and crumbled
1 medium Vidalia onion, diced
1 cup light sour cream
1 cup light mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste
Paprika for the finish 

Cook potatoes in boiling water. Drain and allow to cool.

In a large bowl, combine potatoes, bacon, onion, sour cream, mayonnaise and parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste. Generously sprinkle with paprika. 

Chill for several hours to allow all of those delicious ingredients to come together.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Antiquing at The Butter Barn

Attention all you lovers of vintage, antiques and collectibles - this is a serious shopping alert! This weekend I am headed to do some major exploring at The Butter Barn which is located at 5541 Consear Road in Ottawa Lake, Michigan. 

The sale happens just once a month for four days only (Thursday - Sunday) and is an absolute go-to event for anyone who is a fan of the Industrial Country look or of the show Fixer Upper

If you aren't able to get there this weekend, mark your calendars for the next sale, June 23-26.

Here are a few more pics of the amazing pieces I saw at the April sale.

See you at The Barn! 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Talk Derby to Me, Again

It has been dubbed the most exciting two minutes in sports, and it happens every year on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. The Kentucky Derby, is horseracing’s most beloved event and is steeped in 142 years of tradition - handsome horses, colorful silks, fancy hats, bourbon, roses and mouthwatering southern food - all create the Derby experience.

But you don’t have to make the trip to Louisville to enjoy the race. Celebrate the occasion at home in true Derby style with these essentials:

The Hat - is the pièce de résistance to your party attire, and the bigger it is the better. Create your own from a simple beach bonnet. Adorn with a big, colorful ribbon and attach large silk flowers with a hot glue gun.

The Décor - take your cue from the Derby’s moniker, Run for the Roses. Arrange red roses in silver trophy or julep cups.

The Race - so you think you’ve got what it takes to pick the winner, visit to place your bet from home.

The Beverage - the Mint Julep is the iconic drink of the Kentucky Derby, consisting of bourbon and a simple mint syrup served over ice. 

For those who are not bourbon drinkers, try my fruity, vodka-based Mint Rulep at the end of this post.  

The Fare - think Southern-inspired foods like country ham and biscuits, cheesy grits, beef brisket, and bourbon-chocolate pecan pie.

The Mint Rulep - mix up a pitcher or two an hour or so ahead of time, chill and you’ll be ready to pour when guests arrive. 
1 cup vodka
1 ½ cups pomegranate juice
1 ½ cups ruby red juice
3 cups cranberry juice
Fresh mint sprigs for garnish

In a large pitcher, combine vodka and juices. Serve in individual glasses over ice. Garnish with mint sprigs. 

On to the Preakness and Belmont Stakes!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie

It’s Oaks Day and Derby Eve - and I can’t wait to celebrate Kentucky Derby 142 tomorrow with my friends and family. Tomorrow also happens to be my birthday, so it’s double the fun during the Run for the Roses - just like the first time I went to the Derby back in 1988. Yes, I was a mere teenager.

So… today I am doing all of those things I do the day before the party, like baking these scrumptious Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pies (thank you Southern Living for the best recipe).

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie
Makes 6-8 servings

½ (14.1 ounce) package refrigerated pie crusts
1 ½ cups chopped toasted pecans
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate morsels
1 cup dark corn syrup
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
¼ cup bourbon or water
4 large eggs
¼ cup butter, melted
2 teaspoons plain white cornmeal
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon table salt

Heat oven to 325 F. Fit pie crust into a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate according to package directions; fold edges under, and crimp. Sprinkle pecan and chocolate evenly onto bottom of pie crust.

Stir together corn syrup and next 3 ingredients in a large saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, 3 minutes.  Remove from heat.
Whisk together eggs and next 4 ingredients. Gradually whisk one-fourth of hot corn syrup mixture into egg mixture; add to remaining hot corn syrup mixture, whisking constantly. Pour filling into prepared pie crust.

Bake for 55 minutes or until set; cool pie completely on a wire rack (about one hour).

Happy Race Day!