Why? Market at the Foodbank Giveaway!

On Sunday, May 3, the Greater Cleveland Foodbank is hosting the 20th anniversary Market at the Foodbank, a food and wine tasting event, held right at the Greater Cleveland Foodbank.

Image Source - greaterclevelandfoodbank.org

Image Source – greaterclevelandfoodbank.org

Just a few of the restaurants serving up tasty bites that evening are BOMBA Tacos and Rum, AMP 150, Spice Kitchen and Bar, Trentina Restaurant, and Mitchell’s Homemade Ice Cream. There will also be plenty of wine and beer samples to enjoy!

Beyond just delicious food and tempting beverages, the event offers an opportunity to see the Greater Cleveland Foodbank’s impressive facility. It’s an up close and personal look at where the money raised that evening will go and gives you a sense of the immense need served by the Foodbank. Proceeds from Market at the Foodbank benefit the Harvest for Hunger campaign, which is one of the largest community food and funds drives in the country. Attendance at Market at the Foodbank, as well as participation in the great auctions and raffles that evening, go a long way toward achieving Harvest for Hunger’s fundraising goal!

Image Source - greaterclevelandfoodbank.org

Image Source – greaterclevelandfoodbank.org

Tickets for Market at the Foodbank are on sale now. VIP tickets, which get you a signature wine glass and access to a VIP reception, are $175. General admission tickets are $100. You can purchase tickets online.

Or, you can enter to win two general admission tickets right here! Here’s how to enter (you can do one, two, three, or all four entries, just leave a separate comment for each):

1. Check out the list of participating restaurants and leave a comment telling me which restaurant’s fare you most want to sample.

2. Visit the Greater Cleveland Foodbank and Why CLE? on Facebook, and leave a comment letting me know you visited both pages.

3. Follow @CleveFoodbank and @WhyCLE on Twitter and and leave a comment letting me know you follow both.

4. Tweet the following phrase and leave a comment letting me know you tweeted:

I want to win tickets to @CleveFoodbank’s tasty #Market2015 thanks to @WhyCLE: http://wp.me/p1fb9r-2l0

You can tweet once per day for additional entries, just leave a separate comment each time you tweet.

The giveaway will close on Sunday, April 26 at 11:59pm and the winner will be announced the following day. Good luck!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Greater Cleveland Foodbank to help promote Market at the Foodbank. In exchange, I will receive 2 general admission tickets for myself and 2 general admission tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.*** jenclesig_pur

Why? Ginko Happy Hour!

There’s nothing I enjoy more than a good happy with girlfriends. Last night, Kimberly, Nadine, and I met up at Ginko for sushi, cocktails, and plenty of laughs.


With Ginko’s fabulous manager, Quentin

Ginko not only has the best sushi in Cleveland, but the have phenomenal happy hour deals. From 4:30-6:30pm, Mondays through Fridays, you can get $5 select rolls and appetizers, half-priced specialty cocktails, and $5 beer and wine.


We shared the edamame and the spicy scallop chips (not a happy hour special, but worth ordering regardless), which feature spicy scallop playfully served on top of Pringles.


I enjoyed the spicy tuna roll, the vegetable tempura roll and the roll of the day, which yesterday was white tuna and cucumber. All of these rolls were only $5 during happy hour!


The sushi at Ginko is so fresh and so well made…the fact that you can get it for only $5 is just the icing on the cake! Fabulous food, great service, tasty cocktails, and time with girlfriends, all with happy hour prices?! What a perfect evening! Definitely add Ginko to your after-work happy hour rotation!


Why? Weekends!

It was a fabulous weekend in Cleveland! From the gorgeous weather to the Rock Hall Induction Ceremony to the Cavs game, the excitement and energy around town were palpable.

On Friday, Jeffrey, my Mom, and I headed to the Cleveland Botanical Garden to check out Big Spring. Filled with fragrant and colorful blooms, this event takes you into a springtime wonderland. And there’s a ton for kids to enjoy, from the Ladybug Labyrinth to the Toadstool Theatre. Jeffrey had a great time!

PicMonkey CollageBig Spring continues through Sunday, April 26. Tickets are $12 for non-member adults, $8 for non-member children ages 3-12, and free for children under 3 and all Garden members.

Since we were so close to Little Italy, I couldn’t resist stopping at Presti’s Bakery. Their cannoli made the perfect dessert for the dinner I made on Friday evening.

IMG_2650I made this very easy, very tasty pasta dish on Friday night (recipe here). I used fresh gnocchi for the pasta and substituted fresh basil for the parsley. It was delicious, especially when paired with a good red wine and finished with Presti’s cannoli!

Saturday was a low-key day, with a little yoga in the morning and lots of time spent outside. Keeping it low-key was good, because Sunday involved attending the Cavs first playoff game against the Boston Celtics.

Before the game, we met up with some of the usual suspects at A Bar and Kitchen. This is a great spot for a pre-game drink, with a solid craft beer list, close proximity to the Q, and, because of it’s tucked-away location, not a huge crowd to battle. Pro tip: get the tots!

PicMonkey CollageFrom there, it was on to the game. The Q was alive with excitement from the intro all the way through the game.

IMG_8655We were lucky enough to get tickets through the John Carroll University Cleveland Alumni Chapter. I’m so glad we were able to go and experience the playoff energy in person!

IMG_8689Doesn’t Matthew take awesome pictures, by the way?! Anyway, it was a really fun, fabulous weekend in Cleveland! How was your weekend? Did you take part in any of the Rock Hall or Cavs festivities?

***Disclosure: Matthew and I are members of the Cleveland Botanical Garden. I am the vice-president of Educational, Cultural, and Spiritual Events for the John Carroll University Cleveland Alumni Chapter. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? Cleveland’s Finest Hors d’Oeuvre Contest!

Last night, Matthew and I attended Cleveland’s Finest Hors d’Oeuvre Contest, a foodie fundraiser to benefit Our Lady of the Wayside. Held at the Terrace Club at Progressive Field, we not only enjoyed impressive food, but impressive ballpark views.


The renovations to the ballpark look amazing and I can’t wait to take in a game there!

The participating restaurants and chefs brought their A Game and choosing a favorite hors d’oeuvre was a difficult, yet tasty, task. Some of our favorites:

The lobster rolls with spiced tomato jam from Hodge’s


The chicken leg confit with gorgonzola polenta and braised collard greens from Chinato

The romano-crusted lamb chop with spring vegetable orzo from Horseshoe Cleveland


The mini shortrib mushroom ragout tartine from Tartine Bistro

The vegetable empanadas from Barrio


There were tasty desserts from Becker’s to add a touch of sweetness to the evening, too.


The winners of the attendee-voted contest were:

3rd place – Carrie Cerino’s pepperoni and rock shrimp with corn and tomato salsa over parmesan crostini

2nd place – Corleone’s lump crab and salmon cake

1st place – The Tree House Gallery‘s surf and turf pierogi

PicMonkey Collage

But the real winner is Our Lady of the Wayside, who hosted another fabulous fundraiser to benefit their mission of providing residential, respite, transportation, and day programming services to children and adults with developmental disabilities.

Next up for Our Lady of the Wayside is Grapes and Ale on Friday, June 26. This is always one of my favorite events of the summer, so stay tuned for more details!

***Disclosure: I was asked by Our Lady of the Wayside to help promote Cleveland’s Finest Hors d’Oeuvre Contest. In exchange, I received two complimentary tickets to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? Told!

Awhile back, I wrote about Told, the very cool storytelling concept that has become quite the hit in Cleveland. It’s based on the concept that everyone has a story to tell and Told events provide a forum to tell those stories. You can read about my first Told experience here.

All Told events have audience volunteers, as well as two featured storytellers. Last week, at the eighth public Told event, I had the honor of being a featured storyteller on the theme of “Nice to meet you.”  I talked about meeting my various soulmates in life, from Matthew and Jeffrey to my dearest girlfriends to the city of Cleveland.

IMG_2539I loved being able to share my story, as well as hear the stories of the audience members and the other featured storyteller, City Club CEO Dan Moulthrop.


Because I can’t get enough of Told, last night the Ohio Blogging Association hosted our own private Told event at Deagan’s Kitchen and Bar.


Dave, the creator of Told, kicked us off on the theme of “I said that?!” The stories ranged from funny slips of the tongue to serious yoga life lessons. In a smaller setting, the storytellers can really interact with the audience and get immediate feedback (yes, I snorted during someone’s story I was laughing so hard).

We also got to enjoy some delicious food and tasty beer, too. I hadn’t been to Deagan’s since the new chef took the healm, so I was excited to check out the menu. Our wonderful server Memo recommended the duck leg confit, which was what I was eyeing since I don’t think I can ever pass up duck when it’s on a menu.


Crispy skin, fall-off-the-bone tender meat, and caramelized root vegetables made this an incredible meal (the La Chouffe didn’t hurt either). I also couldn’t pass up the berry cobbler for dessert.


Deagan’s gastropub fare is as tasty as ever and the staff as friendly, too. I’m never disappointed with an evening spent there!

You would think I’d have my fill of storytelling by now, but personally, I’m counting the days until the next public Told event, which will be on Thursday, June 18 at Market Garden Brewery with the theme of “Love in Cleveland.” I hope to see you there, maybe even sharing your own story!

And if you’re interested in the next Ohio Blogging Association meet-up, that’s happening on Sunday, April 26 at XHIBITION, where we’ll get a fashion preview and some tasty brunch nibbles from Jack Flaps. Click here for more details.


Why? Peaceful Fruits!

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Evan and hearing about his exciting venture called Peaceful Fruits. Not only are Peaceful Fruits super tasty, but they have an inspiring back story and support a great cause.


So, I interviewed Evan to get more of the scoop and share it with you.

Tell me how Peaceful Fruits got started.

After 2 years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in a village in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest, I came home but I couldn’t stand to totally leave my experience behind. Working, on my own terms, to help make a difference for people was too satisfying to give up!


That’s why I started Peaceful Fruits: a social good company that uses delicious, healthy food products to encourage sustainable development in the Amazon. My company is founded in the belief that sustainability and development should not be mutually exclusive – there are ways to help people make money and improve their standard of living that still respect traditional ways of life and the environment.

Though our acai comes from the people of the Amazon Rainforest, Peaceful Fruits literally started in my parents’ kitchen – in Peninsula OH.  That’s where we came up with the exact formula for our sustainable, super snacks and decided that this was how to launch the company. It’s a wild path that has taken me from my hut in the jungle to my mom’s kitchen table and now to store shelves throughout NE Ohio – but it’s been incredibly rewarding so far!

What are Peaceful Fruits? How/where are they made?

Peaceful Fruits are our supersnacks – basically, fruit rollups like you would not believe.  Made from nothing but pureed whole fruits, we slow-dry the blended fruits into a naturally-preserved fruit snack. The main ingredient is wild acai, harvested in the region where I was a Peace Corps Volunteer, and we mix it with other delicious fruits to make unique flavors – right now we have Acai+Pineapple and Acai+Apple. No sugar added and no preservatives – our natural drying process is enough to maintain the flavor and nutrition of our snacks for months!


Organic, superfood acai is the main ingredient, which means are snacks are rich in the antioxidants (anti-cancer, anti-aging) and omega fatty acids (important for heart and brain health) that made acai famous. Our snacks are naturally GMO-free, gluten-free, vegan, and paleo – because we believe that fruit snacks shouldn’t have anything besides fruit!

We currently produce our snacks in partnership with the Cleveland Culinary Launch Kitchen and Ms. Julie’s Community Kitchen in Akron.  We are working to increase production by partnering with a local organization that employs people with with disabilities in our community (hopefully we will have an announcement on that soon!)

I love NE Ohio and am so happy to launch this business here and produce here – but my eventual goal is to move production to the Rainforest.  I want the people there to benefit from the value-added steps in the process as well, so they can capture more of the economic opportunities in this enterprise.

What is the mission of Peaceful Fruits?

Peaceful Fruits’ mission is to support sustainable development in the Amazon Rainforest and help people around the world enjoy the incredible, renewable bounty of the rainforest. We are a for-profit social good enterprise; that means we believe long term success is only possible when you take care of all your stakeholders – from the ground where the tree grows, to the person that harvests it, all the way to the mouth that eats it and the package that gets discarded.

The main ingredient in our products, wild acai, is harvested by the indigenous peoples of the Amazon Rainforest. We provide a market – and a path to economic development that does not push them to abandon their home or traditional way of life. Wild acai helps them monetize a renewable resource that can only be found in the unspoiled rainforest, supporting progress while encouraging preservation.


How can we support Peaceful Fruits? Where can we buy Peaceful Fruits?

Peaceful Fruits is available for sale at select stores throughout Cleveland and Akron – from fair trade galleries like “In the 216″ to foodie spots like Jim Alesci’s and The Grocery in Ohio City. You can also buy us direct online at www.peacefulfruits.com

If you have a favorite fitness studio, grocery store, or other appropriate venue – mention to the staff that you’d love to be able to buy Peaceful Fruits snacks there! Or message us (via fb, twitter, or our website) to reach out to them!  As a growing startup there are lots of other ways to get involved as well – we are always looking for partners that are passionate about our mission. Drop us a line if you want to know more!

Thanks, Evan! Peaceful Fruits is a great new Cleveland company doing great things! Be sure to support their tasty products and humanitarian mission!

***Disclosure: While at the Ohio Blogging Association meet-up at Jim Alesci’s Place, I received a complimentary sample of Peaceful Fruits. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? Weekends!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Congratulations to Kayla (Comment #7), randomly-selected winner of two tickets to Handpicked: A Different Kind of Bridal Fair. Please check your email for details. If you didn’t win, you can still purchase tickets online.***

It was a fantastic weekend, spent enjoying the spring-like weather and doing spring-like things like celebrating the Indians home opener. While we didn’t have tickets to the game, we still sported our Tribe gear in support of the home team.


I can’t wait to attend a game and see all the renovations to Progressive Field, especially the new The Corner bar and the expanded kids’ area!

We had lunch on Friday at the Winking Lizard, which is a great place to go during a Cleveland sports event. Jeffrey had grilled chicken and applesauce, while I had the spicier (and less healthy) boneless wings with spicy BBQ sauce. Our server was fantastic with Jeffrey and it was the perfect spot for a home opener meal.

On Saturday, I met up with friends Samantha and Deborah for a leisurely ladies’ brunch at Press Wine Bar. The pomegranate blueberry mimosa was a perfect springy start to the meal.


I ordered the Press omelet, with prosciutto, goat cheese, and tomatoes. The flavors were mild, but each distinguishable. And I really loved the crispy, well-seasoned potato hash that came with the omelet.


When our food arrived, I was brought the wrong omelet. Our server and the kitchen quickly brought the correct dish and I was pleasantly surprised to see that I wasn’t charged for my omelet due to the mix-up. Great customer care and tasty food will definitely have me returning to Press for brunch!

On Sunday, Matthew, Jeffrey, and I enjoyed an impromptu patio lunch at Tony Sacco’s Coal Oven Pizza. In fact, we were the first to use their patio this year. Sitting in the sunshine with a Fat Head’s Bumbleberry (one of my summer go-to beers) and a pizza topped with chicken, artichoke, and sun-dried tomatoes made for the perfect light lunch.


From there, it was on to a milestone even bigger than the first patio beer of the season: Jeffrey’s first haircut! Based on a friend’s recommendation, we took Jeffrey to The Kids Next Door Salon, part of Ladies & Gentlemen Salon. From kids’ movies and snacks, to cute themed chairs, this was the perfect spot for a kiddo cut.


We even got a certificate and a lock of hair to take home. Jeffrey was a champ and smiled through the whole thing. The only tears shed were on my part! He’s just growing up so fast! And he looks like such a proud little boy with his new cut!


Later that afternoon, we enjoyed a walk though the Lake Metroparks and some ice cream at East Coast Custard. It was a perfect family day and a great way to enjoy the beautiful weather!

How was your weekend? Did you celebrate the home opener and enjoy the great weather?


Why? Neil Diamond in Pittsburgh!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Have you entered to win tickets to the Handpicked Event Bridal Fair? Check it out! Remember, you can tweet daily for additional entries!***

For Christmas, Matthew bought my Mom and me tickets to see Neil Diamond in Pittsburgh. Having grown up listening to Neil Diamond and going to his concerts with my Mom, this was a perfect gift. But not only was it perfect because of the concert, it was a great chance for Mom and I to take a little girls-only road trip and talk uninterrupted. That was probably the best gift of all!


Anyway, we hit the road for the short drive to Pittsburgh and checked in at our home for the night: Cambria Suites Pittsburgh. If you’re going to see a show at the Consol Energy Center, this is the perfect place to stay. It’s literally steps away from the arena, with a free shuttle that can get you to dinner or wherever else you might need to go.

Our first stop was dinner. Eleven Contemporary Kitchen had come highly recommended and, after checking out the menu online, I was excited to try it. I started out with a berry mojito, because I desperately want it to be summer, and some yellowtail sashimi that was so fresh it melted in my mouth. Mom started with the scallop appetizer with grits and Surryano ham.

PicMonkey Collage

I also couldn’t pass up the mushroom soup, which would rival AMP 150’s in taste and texture (read: it was fabulous). For my entree, I had the pork chop, topped with pork belly confit and served with Brussels sprouts, carrots, and marbled potatoes. Pork on top of pork? Yes, please!

PicMonkey Collage

Mom had the ribeye and insists it’s one of the best steaks she’s had in ages!

Unable to pass up dessert, I had the “candy bar,” which featured chocolate olive oil cake, peanut butter cream, and chocolate malted ice cream. Mom had the Meyer lemon ricotta fritters. I will dream about both these desserts.

PicMonkey Collage

After a completely wonderful dinner, we made our way to the concert.


As I said, I grew up with Neil Diamond’s music. And by the age range of people at the concert, so many other people did too. And I can’t help but wonder what current pop artist will still be performing to packed, multi-generation audiences at age 74, the way Neil Diamond does?

It was a great show, filled with all his old hits, with a couple new songs sprinkled in. We sang, danced, laughed, and generally had a perfect evening. Thanks to Matthew for the great Christmas gift and to Pittsburgh for being a great venue for a quick road trip!


Why? Handpicked: A Different Kind of Bridal Event Giveaway!

Spring is finally here, which means wedding season is right around the corner! Handpicked: A Different Kind of Bridal Event is happening on Friday, May 1 at MOCA Cleveland to help you get everything you need to make your big day absolutely fabulous!


The host for the event is Baci Designer, a stationary and event design boutique. Other fabulous vendors for this unique bridal fair include Bittersweet’s Chocolate and Pastry, Lather: A Salon, and The Wandering Wardrobe.


Tickets are $20 in advance ($25 at the door). Your tickets gets you access to the open-house style bridal fair from 5:30pm-9pm. You also can peruse the MOCA galleries until 6:30pm. Plus, you’ll get tasty nibbles, two drink tickets, and a guest favor.

A portion of the proceeds from Handpicked benefit Brides Across America, which provides military wives with wedding dresses. So, not only can you find the perfect things for your big day, you can help someone else’s big day be perfect, too!

Tickets are available online now. Or you can enter to win two tickets right here! Here’s how to enter (you can do one, two, three, or all four entries, just leave a separate comment for each):

1. Leave a comment and tell me what inspiration you’re most hoping to get from Handpicked (e.g., hair, color scheme, desserts, etc.)

2. Visit Handpicked: A Different Kind of Bridal Event and Why CLE? on Facebook and leave a comment letting me know you visited both pages.

3. Follow @HandpickedEvent and @WhyCLE on Twitter and leave a comment letting me know you’re following both.

4. Tweet the following phrase and leave a comment letting me know you tweeted:

I want to attend the @HandpickedEvent at @MOCACleveland thanks to @WhyCLE: http://wp.me/p1fb9r-2jG

You can tweet once per day for additional entries, juse leave a separate comment each time you tweet.

The giveaway will close on Friday, April 10 at 11:59pm and the winner will be notified the following day. Good luck!

***Disclosure: I was asked by Baci Designer to help promote Handpicked: A Different Kind of Bridal Event. In exchange, I will receive 2 tickets for myself and 2 tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? Weekends!

Good morning, dear readers! As I’m still working my way out of a ham and Malley’s candies and general Easter bunny-induced fog, I figured a photo recap of the holiday weekend would do the trick.





Suffice to say, it was a wonderful, family-centered weekend. Jeffrey definitely brings a new joy and excitement to the holidays! I hope you all had lovely weekends filled with family and fun, no matter what or how you celebrated!