Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sonic Boom

Sonic was scheduled to open on September 1st, but opened early on Saturday, August 29th.

We have yet to check out this particular Sonic drive-in because the place is a madhouse! There was a 2 hour wait to get into the parking lot!

When we stopped by at around 21:00, there was a foot traffic line of 20 people.

Obviously, we weren't one of the first 100 customers who received a year of free Sonic.


Updated: We went later in the day at 11:00 and got in pretty easily. It was still packed, but we slipped in to the last spot before the lunch rush hit where there was a 10+ car wait to get in. Cherry limeades were spot on!

- Cassaendra

1842 Snow Rd
Parma, Ohio 44134

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Five Guys

Extremely busy place at 2:00 p.m. (50 orders taken in 35 minutes)
80's music
Burgers made to order
Toasted buns
Pretty good fries
Moderately priced

Five...four greasy thumbs up!

Brown Bag Burger has some competition

Pictures next time! (for Michael)


I've been known to lug my camera to a restaurant, only to remember this little detail after I've consumed half my meal.

- Cassaendra

Five Guys
4025 Richmond Rd
Warrensville Heights, OH 44122
(216) 360-8888

Left 4 Dead

I can't stop laughing...

There was a 9-year-old playing Left 4 Dead online blabbering as zombies swarmed over him, ripping him to shreds, while everyone was shooting their way out of the cluster-f. Bug couldn't stand the constant chatter, so he dumped out of the server.

I am not making fun of the kid because his voice hasn't changed, the kid admitted he was 9 years old...

- Cassaendra

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Still lamenting over the loss of Niko's on Detroit 4+ years ago, we've been pining for real Greek food, not just fast food consisting of formed gyro strips, bad tzatziki (sour cream with diced dill pickles), and fries.

We have driven past a sign that read "Pappou" 5000 times over the years and didn't bother to look up just what the heck that meant until this week...

Pappou Google Listing

I read through a few reviews that mentioned a buffet and good prices, nothing negative. Well, even if the reviews were not overly positive, we would have given it a try, unless someone mentioned grossly unsanitary conditions or inability to substitute.

Pappou Beef Funghetto
Beef funghetto

As excited as Bug was to find a place that served Greek food, he was intrigued with their special of the day, Beef Funghetto ($10.99) -- beef tenderloin, fresh mushrooms and wine simmered in a rich beef gravy and mashed potatoes. Bug didn't get his sticky buns, but was pleased overall with his platter.

My eyes glanced back and forth between the Hellenic Sampler and Hellenic Platter. The sampler includes moussaka, pastitsio, dolmades, spanakopita, and tiropita. The platter includes Greek pork chops, Greek chicken breast, moussaka, pastitsio, and dolmades. I picked the sampler ($10.99).

Pappou Dolmades
Dolmades, spanakopita, tiropita

When the platter arrived, I was surprised the spanakopita and tiropita were like neatly shaped 2" tall paper footballs, instead of flaky layers of phyllo. I picked one up and maneuvered it as if to flick it. At the last second, I popped it into my mouth.

Tiropita is similar to spanakopita, except it is made with feta only, instead of spinach and feta. I preferred the spanakopita because it helped mellow out the saltiness of the cheese.

The dolmades did not include meat, so they were okay. We make it better at home with meat.

Pappou Hellenic Sampler

The pastitsio was made with bucatini, tomato sauce, a bit of meat spiced with cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg, and a very thick layer of bechamel, a lot more than I am accustomed to. Bug makes his with more meat and ziti, and less bechamel, which I prefer for purely cosmetic reasons.

The portion of beef in the moussaka was quite generous. The allspice was appropriate, so this was one of the better moussaka I have tasted.

Portions were pretty hefty, so I took more than half the dish home. The buffet offerings that were included with the meal were all right, nothing to write home about -- split pea and chicken noodle soups, and your usual salad items.

We'll return to try their other items. I'd like to find out what makes their pork chops and chicken Greek, and indulge in the "World's Most Luscious Rich and Creamy Cheesecake."

Pappou means grandfather in Greek. Grandmother is yiayia.

- Cassaendra

8320 Snow Rd
Parma, OH
(440) 888-9644

Saturday, August 15, 2009

No Sweat!

This week's Serious Eats Weekend Cook and Tell challenge is to create a meal that won't cause you to break a sweat.

It has been oppressive (70% humidity, low 90s) the past couple of days, so we have been minimizing our outdoor activities, especially with it being so cool indoors, to the point that we have been grocery shopping at 4 a.m., when it has been a miserably tacky 71°F.

SE Sloppy Joe Cole Slaw
Sloppy joe with coleslaw

Sloppy Joe
Sloppy joes have been on my crave-dar since earlier in the week when we went grocery shopping and a display of Manwich stacked adjacent to the butcher case caught my eye. I picked up the can and looked at the list of ingredients as I customarily do, and noticed we had all the listed major ingredients.

Bug used the recipe from excerpted below.

1 lb lean ground beef
1/4 c chopped onion
1/4 c chopped green bell pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp prepared yellow mustard
3/4 c ketchup
3 tsp brown sugar
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste

1. In a medium skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef, onion, and green pepper; drain off liquids.

2. Stir in the garlic powder, mustard, ketchup, and brown sugar; mix thoroughly. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

There was no need to fix anything in this recipe, as it was very simple and surpassed my expectations with sweet, tangy, bell peppery, and meaty perfection. Four exuberant thumbs up between me and Bug.

SE Sloppy Joe Profile
Mound of yum

KFC Coleslaw Recipe
While searching for a sloppy joe recipe, I ran across someone's sandwich pictured with coleslaw. It didn't seem like a bad idea, so I perused through a few recipes online. This recipe from looked promising...

8 c finely diced cabbage (about 1 head)
1/4 c diced carrot
2 T minced onions
1/3 c granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 c milk
1/2 c mayonnaise
1/4 c buttermilk
1-1/2 T white vinegar
2-1/2 T lemon juice

1. Finely dice cabbage and carrots.

2. Place cabbage and carrot mixture into large bowl and add minced onions.

3. Using regular blade on food processor, process remaining ingredients until smooth.

4. Pour over vegetable mixture and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover bowl and refrigerate several hours or overnight before serving.

Bug changed two things:
1. No onions were harmed in the making of this recipe (I don't eat raw onions).
2. Because this resulted in a crumbly heap of cabbage and carrots after 6 hours, the mix (sugar, salt, pepper, milk, mayonnaise, buttermilk, vinegar, lemon juice) was doubled. The slaw is now very wet. A happy medium for next time would be to increase the mix by 1-1/2 instead of doubling.

The flavor is nearly identical to KFC's coleslaw. I happen to love their coleslaw so I was ecstatic with the result after Bug made this creamier.

SE Coleslaw
Coleslaw, prior to the mixture adjustment, and my favorite spork

This was an inexpensive, filling, and satisfying meal with a lot of leftovers, a result of the amount that Bug made -- meat for at least 10 sandwiches and ~20 servings of coleslaw.

2 lb ground chuck ($5.40)
1/2 Vidalia onion - leftover from Pasta con Sarde ($0.38)
2/3 green bell pepper - leftover from something else ($0.99)
1 pack of burger buns ($0.79)

1 head of cabbage ($1.49)
1 carrot ($0.27)
1/2 c buttermilk ($0.38), the balance will be used for fried chicken

Total: $9.70

SE Sloppy Joe Nom
I like crunchy lettuce with my sloppy joes!

- Cassaendra

On Random

I peeked into an unfinished storefront and noticed a cat drinking from a bowl. She nosed over to me at the window...

Gallery Kitty
Friendly or curious?

Gallery Kitty Profile

...and hammed it up for a good while.

Gallery Cat Ham
Green walls and ham

I just noticed this pumpkin patch today. I'm not sure how they have grown to this size unnoticed. Unfortunately, all of the gourds are severed from their life line so they are in various stages of decay. I'm sure the neighborhood scavengers will notice real soon.

School Pumpkin Patch

There are several unkempt community bins with banana peppers, green bell peppers, and tomatoes growing. I have yet to see anyone tend to these plants, but these veggies look mighty healthy and untouched. The raccoons and squirrels must not like them.

School Peppers

When bathroom humor meets playground humor? Hi-

I know you are, but what am I?

It's a race track operated by crank from behind, not Grampa Pac-Man swallowing a jogger. Bug and I will on occasion play with these nifty playground toys when no one is around.


I think it's time for a nap!

- Cassaendra

Monday, August 10, 2009

Come Here, Little Fishies

With the leftover anchovies from a recent Weekend Cook and Tell episode, I mentioned that I would make Matt the Butcher's dish, Pasta con Sarde. Unfortunately, I was unable to find usable fennel that week.

While shopping for cherries to make clafouti for a Julie & Julia Weekend Cook and Tell challenge; behold, a cluster of fennel!

Pasta con Sarde2
Linguine with sardines, anchovies, and fennel

Pasta con Sarde

Matt the Butcher explains that this dish isn't particularly fishy. For someone who doesn't care for a lot of fish (Bug), the fish flavor is noticeable. I rarely eat sardines and anchovies, and do not care for very salty foods. This dish has a relatively mild fish flavor and is not salty.

Included below is the recipe he posts on his blog, which is succinctly explained; thus, the only revisions I have made are cosmetic.

1/4 c olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4 garlic cloves diced
1 bulb fennel, blanched for 6 minutes, then coarsely chopped
1/4 c olive oil
2 tins sardines, packed in oil
4 anchovy fillets
1/2 c raisins
1 16 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 oz pine nuts toasted
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1 tsp black pepper

1. In olive oil, saute the onions, garlic, and fennel in a good-sized frying pan until the onions are opaque.

2. In another small frying pan, heat the remaining olive oil and mash the anchovies and sardines to a paste.

3. Mix the sardine paste into the onion mixture, and add raisins, tomatoes, and pine nuts. Add the spices and gently simmer.

4. Prepare pasta. Reserve some of the starchy pasta water to add to the sardine mixture if it is too thick. You don’t want the mixture too thick or too watery, but more like a thick spaghetti sauce.

5. Combine the sauce with pasta.

Pasta con Sarde
An orchestra of flavor

I didn't know what to expect, cooking fennel for the first time. Blanching was quite easy. The flavor profile of anise and licorice is spot on, and a rather foreign flavor for me in pasta.

Because of the peculiar licorice flavor and the amount of garlic used, those are the most noticeable flavors, followed by fish. The raisins were an interesting addition. At first, I thought it would be weird, but the sweetness adds to the experience.

The only analogy I could think of for this dish is an orchestra, where sardines would be a viola, onions a cello, garlic a bass, tomatoes a trumpet, fennel an oboe, and the raisins would be a flute. At least, this is the way I taste/hear it. It probably doesn't make much sense, does it?

Ah yes, and since there is a squirrel in the house *cough* Bug *cough* who nibbles on pine nuts, before I prepare this the next time, I will make certain we have some.

Many thanks to Matt the Butcher for opening new doors!

- Cassaendra

Sunday, August 9, 2009


Serious Eats Weekend Cook and Tell challenge this weekend was to cook a recipe from "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" by Julia Child, to celebrate the movie, Julie & Julia, which opened this weekend.

I really don't know much about French food other than bread, escargot, gaufre, and mille-feuille, so I decided to make pizza.

SE Clafouti
This is not a pepperoni pizza...

Okay, I didn't make pizza...

It didn't dawn on me that a flat-bottomed round casserole dish should have been used; something I (still) do not have. I even went out to buy a rectangular casserole dish to make this since ours exploded into a million slivers 1-2 months ago during a cooking mishap. It took ~1 week until we stopped finding and having to extract glass splinters from our bleeding feet.

While searching for recipes from Mastering... online, since I do not own a copy, I ran into an awesome website that had almost all of the recipes, which were contributed by the site contributers and bloggers from all over. I used the linked Calfouti recipe posted at Cooking with Amy (below). I've tweaked the instructions to make a few points clear.

I targeted desserts because there aren't very many desserts that I find inedible.

1-1/4 c milk
1/3 c sugar
3 eggs
1 T vanilla
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 c flour
3 c cherries, pitted
1/3 c sugar
powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Blend milk, 1/3 c sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt, and flour in a blender.
3. Pour 1/4-inch layer of batter in a lightly buttered 8 c baking dish.
4. Place in the oven until a film of batter sets in the pan. Remove from heat and spread the cherries over the batter.
5. Sprinkle 1/3 c sugar over cherries. Pour the rest of the batter over the cherries. Bake for about 45 minutes to an hour. The clafouti is done when puffed and brown, and a knife plunged in the center comes out clean.
6. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, serve warm.

This recipe will make 6-8 servings.

When Bug took the clafouti out of the oven, I was disappointed because it somehow transformed itself into a pizza. It still tasted good, with a flavor and texture of rich egg custard rather than a silky flan, that it has inspired me to make egg custard pie some time soon. I would like to make the pie without a crust so it's nothing but vanilla-eggy goodness. Bug felt meh over this dish, saying it "wasn't anything special."

Klaatu barada nikto. Sorry, I couldn't help myself.

- Cassaendra

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Bug vs the Volcano

We were driving the scenic route to Giant Eagle along Brookpark Road (Cleveland) to get some provisions for beef stew when we noticed a sign in front of Union House advertising fish fry and pierogi. Bug became excited and immediately turned the car around. I'm surprised the wheels didn't squeal.

We entered the restaurant and stood at the front waiting to be seated. The decor was dive bar first, restaurant afterthought, with POW-MIA and US Armed Forces flags hung along the far wall. I also noticed that we were easily 25 years younger than the next oldest person there.

Five minutes later, a busboy (younger than us), the only person who bothered to speak to us while we were waiting, mentioned we could seat ourselves. We really should have suspected the outcome.

With two roving servers, checking on ~15 tables of diners, we walked out after sitting 10 minutes without receiving even a nod of recognition or the ability to make eye-to-eye contact. Not sure how this was possible, but the backs of the servers' heads were always facing us. Why bother having a seat-yourself policy, if the servers aren't proficient enough to handle the job?

If you want something to eat or drink, you won't get it there. Lesson learned.

It was probably a good thing that we left, since we planned on sharing an order of fried fish, a shrimp basket, a bunch of pierogi, a cup of clam chowder, and something to drink (~$35.00). Can we rasp heart attack?

After shopping for groceries, we picked up a quick and healthy dinner...wait, let me wake up from my dream.

Bug was ravenous and wanted to take home something quick to eat before prepping and babysitting a pot of beef stew for 4-5 hours. Taco Bell was nearby.

TB Dinner
Dinner is served...

Bug ordered a Volcano Big Box meal, 10 crunchy tacos, and 2 chili cheese burritos ($18.60).

TB Volcano Box Top

The Volcano Big Box includes 1 Volcano burrito, 1 Volcano taco, 1 hard-shelled taco, 1 order of Cinnamon Twists, and a large soda (Mountain Dew Baja Blast).

Baja Blast is reminiscent of those green, lime-flavored popsicles that come linked in slender, plastic rectangular packets, except carbonated and with a bit more concentrated citrus flavor.

TB Volcano Box Inside

I gobbled up two crunchy tacos and the Volcano taco. I've had the Volcano taco before and "spicy" never entered my mind. My taco was LOADED with Volcano cheese that, by the last bite of my taco, I was thinking, "WTF?" The heat had built up to the point that I required something cool to quell the burning.

Bug ate a few crunchy tacos and 1 burrito. As we munched on the Cinnamon Twists, we became aware of a pair of dark orbs belonging to a patiently seated shiba, staring longingly at each slightly sweetened cinnamon puff as they floated from packet to mouth.

TB Cinnamon Twists
They look like chicharrones, don't they?

Akemi was entranced. I gave in to her Jedi mind tricks -- is it a mind trick if I am cognizant? -- and offered her a morsel. She quickly attacked the spiral as if it were Styrofoam, by first dropping it from her mouth, followed by a few investigative licks. She then glared at it for a couple of seconds, picked it up, dropped it again, and finally gobbled it.

TB Volcano Box Bottom
The bottom of the Volcano Big Box, when it was dropped as I took it out of the bag. Oops.

We have enough left over for breakfast and lunch tomorrow! The cool thing about Taco Bell's tacos is that, while the shell may not remain crunchy, they are still pretty good cold the following day. Fully prepped homemade and Mexican restaurant tacos never taste good cold or the next day.

TB Tacos

Update: Bug ate the gigantic Volcano burrito for breakfast, describing it as lackluster, preferring their beef and bean burrito instead. Apparently, there were tortilla strips inside the burrito that were soggy by the time he consumed it. Also, he didn't experience the heat I did, because there was only a quarter-sized dollop of Volcano cheese in his entire burrito. Poor thing.

- Cassaendra

Friday, August 7, 2009

Ginger Lickin' Good

HD Ginger
Häagen-Dazs Five ginger ice cream ($2.00)

We were shopping for groceries to make stew and homemade sloppy joe for our weekend meals, when a pint of Häagen-Dazs ginger ice cream sang out to me as we cut through the frozen aisle to pay.

Häagen-Dazs's Five line consists of 7 flavors, mint, ginger, coffee, vanilla bean, passion fruit, brown sugar, and milk chocolate.

Brown sugar! That flavor sounded intriguing, after ginger. Unfortunately, there were no more brown sugar pints.

The ingredients for the ginger ice cream are as follows, skim milk, cream, sugar, ginger, and egg yolks.

Bug was impressed.

The texture was similar to frozen custard, substantial, creamy, and uncomplicated. Despite the barely noticeable wispy strands of ginger, they went undetected to my tongue. The essence of ginger is ever-present with each bite, but not overpowering.

Those who hate ginger will abhor this. Lovers of ginger won't have enough heat. I found this ice cream to be quite pleasant, at the start of a meal, end of a meal, between meals, ...

I wish I could say tonight's meal was similarly elegant. We had Taco Bell.

- Cassaendra

Where's My Ziti?

As I scurried to one of our dining rooms at work, I skimmed the posted menu and saw Chicken Stuffed with Mozzarella and Basil, Pasta (ziti), and Vegetables for $6.85. My eyes lit up when I saw basil. The scent of the breading beckoned as I bypassed the made-to-order sandwich station...

DD Chicken Mozz Basil
No, not bacon, beckon

I hate to bring race into an innocent food topic, but as you can see, that is not ziti under my chicken. I could have stopped her, but I figured, why waste the rice? It would have been thrown out.

Back in my office, I tried to take a cross-sectional picture of the chicken. For whatever reason, my husband's ninja CoolPix refused to focus on the chicken. ARGH! It would glance at the chicken, take a step back, and glare at the green beans. I tried for 10 minutes!

I finally gave up. Maybe it was trying to warn me...

White with a slight pink tinge, the rolled chicken breast had swirled layers of thickened mozzarella and fresh basil.

Oh, I hate chicken breasts. Hate is such a strong word. Agreed. I am frequently disappointed and mentally kick myself into a misshapen blob when I eat dry chicken breasts. Prepared in the same fashion, I prefer dark meat because of its flavor and texture.

The seasoned breading was done well; crunchy, dry, and not very greasy. Of course, the chicken was dry and unseasoned. The basmati rice was dry, but not crunchy or gummy; hooray! The rice was nailed perfectly. The beans weren't dry, but they were cooked just under my liking. I like my beans less crunchy and milder flavored. The garlic and salt could not veil the overwhelming dark green, raw, leafy flavor, nor could I easily ignore the raucous chomping in the silence of my office.

The meal wasn't a disaster, since I finished almost everything. There have been times when I've thrown out my lunch after 5-6 bites, and preferred to feel and hear the woeful cries of my belly later in the day, than to finish my food.

I threw out half the rice, since not much starch was necessary to counteract any saltiness. For that reason, I was rather pleased with lunch.

- Cassaendra

Sunday, August 2, 2009


The focus on this week's installment of Serious Eats Weekend Cook and Tell is anchovies.

I've cooked with nuoc mam for over 10 years, but never cooked with actual anchovies. We flipped through our cookbooks and searched online. Our copy of the Silver Spoon alone had 70 recipes. Nothing interested Bug, plus I was feeling cheap and didn't want to buy a ton of ingredients, so I didn't follow any recipe in particular.

All we purchased for this meal was a can of anchovies. The remaining ingredients were leftovers or items we always stock.

One of the dining rooms I frequent at work had beautiful, enormous red bell peppers on display in several large wooden crates at the made-to-order salad area, leftovers from the local farmer's market we hold on campus each week. I asked one of the chefs what they did with the displays. He informed me that they were used for our meals and could also be purchased, two for $1 (a little over 1 pound).

We also had some leftover zucchini and tomatoes from the previous Weekend Cook and Tell (Tomatoes) that needed to be used.

I thought we had olives, but we did not. I'm sure they'll surface tomorrow.

SE Pasta with Anchovies Capers
Anchovy concoction

1/2 lb linguine
1 T olive oil
5 anchovy filets ($1.50)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 zucchini, sliced ($0.44)
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced ($0.25)
2 roma tomatoes, seeded and sliced ($1.20)
black pepper
dried herbs (oregano, thyme, basil)
crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 c water
1/4 c capers

1. Prepare linguine.
2. Fry the anchovies in olive oil on medium heat in a frying pan for a minute. Add garlic. Stir until lightly browned. The anchovies will have broken up.
3. Add zucchini, bell pepper, and tomatoes, black pepper, herbs, and crushed pepper. Stir for a couple of minutes, then add water. Cover and simmer for a few minutes.
4. Stir capers with vegetables for a minute. Turn off heat.
5. When linguine is al dente, drain water, then toss with vegetables.

We had a very filling lunch for $3.40. I packed up leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

Next time, I'll try adding the tomatoes at the end with the capers (or switch), since the tomatoes broke apart more than I anticipated. Also, instead of water, using chicken stock may add a nice layer of flavor. Bug made a batch of stock the other day.

Bug didn't love or hate this dish. The flavors didn't pop for him. It needed a sharper (sour) flavor. Perhaps I'll try balsamic vinegar and kalamata olives. A quarter pound of ground sirloin would probably make the man happy too...

With the remaining anchovies, I plan on making Matt the Butcher's Pasta con Sarde later in the week. All we need is fennel and sardines. Can't wait! Although, I have a feeling I'll be eating this alone.

- Cassaendra

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