Why? Weekends!

Happy 2012, CLE! They say the way you spend the new year determines how the rest of the year will go. I certainly hope so, because this weekend was wonderful!

Friday night, CLEguy and I met up with Alicia and Hans from Team Poise in Parma for dinner at Happy Dog.

After reading Clue Into Cleveland’s recent post about the new toppings at Happy Dog, I knew exactly what I wanted to order. I got a hot dog with Jamaican jerk mustard, Guinness sauerkraut, carmelized onions, and French’s french fried onions.

The combination of the spiciness of the mustard and sweetness of the carmelized onions and sauerkraut was perfect. And the french fried onions added just enough crunch. CLEguy chose the Jamaican jerk mustard, jabanero pickled onions, cheddar cheese, applewood smoked bacon, and peanut butter.

This was Team PIP’s first time at Happy Dog and they seemed to enjoy it as much as we always do!

From there, we headed across the street to Cleveland’s a Plum‘s and @lzone‘s Holla Days Festival of Awesomeness.

Held at the brand new, not-yet-open-to-the-public Spice Kitchen at West 58th and Detroit, this party was quite the who’s who of CLE social media. From Plum and @lzone to bloggers from Mile 26 and More, A Slice of Kiwi, Cleveland Foodie, Confessions of a CLE Habitant, Happy in CLE, Bite Buff, The Dawg’s Dish, Life on Mars, Green Dog Wine, All Lacquered Up, Things I Luuurve, and more, there was quite the fun and festive crowd.

Spice Kitchen is run by the folks from Spice of Life catering. The concept of the restaurant is to be seasonal, with not just menu items, but even artwork and decor that will change from season to season. The appetizers we saw at the Holla Days party looked delicious!

The cocktails were amazing too – hand crafted and unique. I enjoyed an “Over the Moon,” which had gin, lavendar, and egg white. CLEguy enjoyed a cocktail with rum, rice milk, honey, and nutmeg.

A fun party for sure! And I can’t wait to check out Spice Kitchen once it opens next week!

Needing a nightcap of a different sort, Team PIP and Team Why CLE? headed down the street to Sweet Moses. I can’t get enough of the 1940’s soda shop vibe and delicious ice cream at this place! It was a great way to end a great evening with friends.

New Year’s Eve, CLEguy and I headed to our friend’s Laura and Brian’s place for martinis, board games, and Dick Clark’s Rockin New Year’s Eve.

Since we all had to bring an appetizer to share, I made BBQ’d meatballs in the slow cooker. I love this recipe because I can make it earlier in the day and the whole house smells good while it’s cooking. I found out one of my high school friends made the cookie recipe I posted awhile back and – emboldened by that information – I’m going to post the meatballs recipe at the end of this post, just in case you need a tasty app recipe!

Sunday, we went over to the CLEparents’ house for the traditional New Year’s dinner of pork roast, sauerkraut, and dumplings. I was amazed to see on Twitter how many others share this Eastern European tradition for their dinner!

As CLEguy and I rang in the new year, we realized 2012 is going to be quite a big and exciting year in our lives: we’re getting married in June and we just started the house-hunting process, so we’ll likely have a new address (still in the CLE area, of course) even before then! Here’s hoping that whatever 2012 brings you is good, happy, and exactly what you need!

Now, here’s that recipe:

 

BBQ Meatballs

For the meatballs:

2 pounds ground beef (get the leanest you can)

1/3 cup ketchup

3 tablespoons seasoned dry bread crumbs

1 egg, slightly beaten

2 tablespoons dried onion flakes

3/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

 

For the sauce:

1 cup ketchup

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1 6-ounce can tomato paste

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all meatball ingredients well and shape into 1-inch meatballs.

Bake meatballs in glass baking dish for 18 minutes or until browned.

Place meatballs in slow cooker.

Mix sauce ingredients well and pour over meatballs.

Cover and cook on low setting for 4 hours.

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