Monday, August 1, 2016

Foodie Frenzy

Anyone who knows me personally knows that they're not allowed to take a bite of the food when it comes to our table unless I get to take pictures of it. Most of my family members just laugh and roll their eyes by now because they're extremely used to my foodie ways. 

In the first food blog post I ever wrote, I shared why the concept of food and sharing food pictures and recipes is something so special to me-- but this is a topic I want to revisit again. In short, my mother was a baker and chef for years while my father was an amazing photographer in his free time. Somehow I took a liking to the concepts together: food photography.

Growing up I have many memories of standing in my kitchen (on my tip toes) observing my mom work her magic: 

Whisking, sauteing, steaming and mixing. 
Flipping, chopping, smashing, and brewing.

...always wondering how my mom perfectly combined ingredients to create the most mouth-watering food I've ever tasted (most of the time without ever using recipes). The best part was she always let me help in any way my little fingers could contribute and I would feel so proud. 

My father was a genius behind the lens. Each step of the way growing up my father was there with the camera documenting and savoring every single moment. Although his camera was too complex for me to ever touch, I observed and learned how he was able to capture scenes and images that everyone else was blind to. 

I take immense pride in the passion that I have for cooking and food photography, and I know there are so many other Cleveland foodies, and people all over the world, who share this same exact feeling.  As much as I love having people follow my blog posts and my Savor the Flavor Instagram account @savetheflav, I firmly believe that I am the one getting the most satisfaction from all of this. 

As time goes on, I would absolutely love to pursue opportunities where I'm able to blog about food/recipes/restaurants near and far. Although it's not something I am not currently doing as a job like some bloggers, I feel so happy pursuing something I am passionate about. 

...I've come a long way since then!
I also feel fortunate to be a Cleveland native and witness the renaissance that has occurred here in the past few years--especially the food scene. I am damn proud of where I come from and I love to share everything Cleveland related. Food is a big part of that because pride because there is such deep rooted culture here in this city. 
Showing off my "chef skills" at age 6 or 7...

More to come this week... --KH

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Life in the Land (Cleveland EATS)

When I last posted in March I shared my journey of the transition to a gluten-free diet.
Three months since that post, I am excited to share that I have happily been GF for nearly six months now! I have noticed a drastic change in my health and seldom experience the uncomfortable symptoms I was having for months.
Despite my diet restrictions, I have been endlessly exploring Cleveland's eats in every way possible since I've been home. Just when I thought I knew everything about my city...I keep finding new foodie adventures and hidden neighborhood gems)
I am interning full-time in downtown Cleveland which has allowed me to view the city from an entirely new perspective. I use every second of my free time to simply walk up and down the streets and learn something new. Not to mention--Cleveland has been electric since we became CHAMPS! The feeling of walking down the street in the past week has drastically changed. Strangers high-five and people hug when they see someone wearing Cavs clothing.
Parade confetti still graces the streets as a sweet, sweet reminder of the city's long awaited victory.
When I arrived back home from OU in April, I began to compile an ongoing list of things I was doing and a list of places that I wanted to go to ensure that I was making the most of my summer. I am very fortunate that my sister Celina and her husband have allowed me to live with them in my favorite neighborhood in all of Cleveland: Cleveland Heights. The Heights is such a unique, quirky, and versatile place. Down the street from their house on Lee Road is a number of restaurants, bars, shops, a movie theatre, and much more. For me, it's the ultimate summer location in Cleveland being a quick drive away from downtown, but yet in our own little niche.
I must admit that since I've been home I have been cooking less than I am used to...
I have been introduced to the rude reality of being an adult and feeling overwhelmed with busy work schedules and a lack of work-life balance. The thought of coming home after a long day and spending time cooking & then cleaning just does not sound appetizing!
When I am away at school, cooking is extremely therapeutic for me after a long day of classes and working two jobs. 

I hope to get back in that healthy habit soon enough.
For now, I want to share some of the food adventures that I have been drooling over the entire summer.

(If you want to view more pictures where I post frequently follow my instagram @tastetheland)

 Restore Coldpressed (Downtown Cleveland)
Avocado toast | Himalayan Pink Salt | Lemon | EVO | Cracked Pepper | Vine Ripened Tomatoes | GF bread

The toast everyone keeps talking about...had to try it for myself. The combination of these simple ingredients is INCREDIBLE

 Restore Coldpressed (Downtown Cleveland)
 Banana | Blueberry | Coconut Oil | Flaxseed | Raw Honey | Almond Milk
Saigon (E. 4th Street)- My personal favorite lunch spot
|Tender beef & brisket Pho|

Saigon offers such amazing portions of Vietnamese food for very affordable prices
This meal also turned into my dinner...
The Corner Alley (E. 4th Street)- Outdoor & open fun atmosphere
|Brisket nachos w/ a balsamic glaze|

Always enjoy visiting the Corner Alley with both coworkers and friends.
It's a fun atmosphere for just drinking or dining and offers decent options!
Gigi's on Fairmount (Cleveland Heights)
| The most beautiful Caprese salad I've ever seen...or tasted |

One of the only place in Cleveland Heights open for lunch during the week.
 My go to spot with girlfriends for a quick bite and a fun place to catch up (with martinis of course!)
The Greenhouse Tavern (E. 4th Street)
| The Ohio Beef Burger "Celiac Style." |

 I really appreciate the accommodations for a GFD on the menu at GHT
I have yet to order a meal that has disappointed me in the slightest
Yours Truly (Shaker Square)
| Freshly squeezed grapefruit mimosas & notso fries |

I must admit Notso fries are my utmost guilty please (especially after a night of one too many)
Love coming here on weekends...never a bad meal!
Brennan's Colony (Cleveland Heights)
| Potato Skins & Chicken Nachos |

I am extremely biased towards The Colony since I used to work here...
but it's hard to deny that Brennan's is a great summer spot with an unbeatable patio.
My summer has consisted of countless nights at Brennan's devouring potato skins during nerve-racking Cavs games.
Nighttown (Cedar Hill)
| Pea risotto w/ radish & greens |
Amazing service and a good option for a family meal, a date, or drinks with friends.
Another great patio with a full bar for the summer.
Nighttown (Cedar Hill)
| Pork Tenderloin w/ cilantro polenta, tomatoes, red wine reduction |
Metropolitan at The 9 (Adega) 
| Ciabatta & gravy w/ poached eggs |




Sunday, March 20, 2016

Ecuador Eats

I am kicking myself for not posting since this summer--but I assure you I have been hard at work exploring all types of foods and cooking. Not to mention, a lot has changed with my diet but we'll get to that after the exciting stuff:

I will begin with the past December and my trip to Ecuador for 10 days.

I had long awaited my trip to South America and it was beyond fulfilling…but more so: filling.
My phone was nearby at all times to constantly take pictures of all of the food I consumed or the variety juices I drank. I LOVED how natural the juice is anywhere you go. I couldn’t get enough.
Every morning at our hostel, the kitchen would surprise us with all different flavors and we would pass each other’s juice around to the whole table (clearly we are not germaphobes—or we just spend too much time together to care). My personal favorite was the mulberry juice—the perfect amount of tart to have me completely satisfied. 

Our meals consisted of plenty of rice, avocado, beans, & meat (as expected). However the flavors were exquisite and fresher than imaginable. I also have a new found love for plantains cooked every which way and Ecuadorian CHOCOLATE.

A coastal Ecuadorian meal: rice, avocado, fried plantains, and fish
Mulberry Juice

Ecuador definitely stole a piece of my heart and I hope to travel back there one day with family to continue to explore and pick mangoes...

Over the past six months or so I have been experiencing very weird stomach problems, nausea, etc.-- these symptoms would occur a few hours after eating. I'm already a hypochondriac when it comes to my health so you could only imagine the types of things going through my mind. After a few doctors appointments and blood tests there was no conclusive results, so I began to do some research on my own. And then came GLUTEN. Now, I know in the medical field this is a controversial topic--especially since there is a lack of research regarding gluten intolerances. However, I have many friends and close family who have seen amazing relief from similar symptoms after completely removing gluten from their diets. So, I gave it a shot.

I have been gluten free since shortly after my Ecuador trip-- almost three months to be exact.

I was absolutely shocked by the results. I no longer experienced the sporadic symptoms that I had been experiencing for months. Whether it all be in my head, or gluten actually the problem, I was (and continue to be) content.  In terms of cooking, it's been a new adventure in the kitchen. I have become way more creative and I am always up for a challenge. It is interesting how much more I have to pay attention to food labels & ingredients. One of the down Those of you who know me understand my obsession and taste for craft beer, especially in Cleveland. Although, it has been fun to discover gluten-free beers. Thank goodness for wine!

The best part of being gluten-free: eating a copious amount of Mexican food. I eat tacos probably more than I should, but the ingredients so fresh, so easy, and there's countless combinations.  

Taco Tuesday happens a few times a week.

That's all for now--


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Sporatic Summer Sampling

My roommate Alyssa and I find ourselves constantly hungry-- possibly due to the fact that our kitchen and living room are connected so there's no avoiding the bombarding thoughts of food within arms reach. I do give us props, however, because recently our snack choices have been very health conscious. Rather than giving in to the temptation of junk food, we've been utilizing vegetables as substitutes for our favorite snack foods. 

Recently to fight our salty cravings, we made baked chickpeas lightly seasoned with everyday spices, a tad bit of fresh Parmesan & dipped them in sriracha. Cook time was only 30 minutes and they reached a desirable crunch. Highly recommend these especially if you already have a liking towards chickpeas. 

However, tonight while sitting down to unwind from a long day turned into a whirl wind of experimentation. Alyssa and I looked in our fridge to discover what we could whip up this time. Our end result: kale chips, spinach chips, and radish chips.

To begin, we lightly tossed the spinach and kale in olive oil. Then, after spreading the leaves on a cooking pan we added light salt, garlic powder, and tiny sprinkles of cheese. 

Ten minutes of baking at 325 did the trick and this was our end result:

Crispy, guilt free GOODNESS. 

Although the kale chips were the winner in my book, the radish chips came in close second. 

These suckers had little preparation besides thin slicing. All we had to do was pat the slices dry, add a tad a lemon juice, salt & pepper and bake them at 375 for 20 minutes or until crispy. 

The end result tastes so similar to a potato chips it's astonishing--especially since radishes have a spicy & strong taste to begin with. The initial tastes of radishes is lost once baked. 

As I sit here writing this we are currently on our second round of kale chips...we can't get enough.

That's all for now.


Instagram account: @savetheflav

Monday, August 3, 2015

Spice Up Your Life-- No, Really.

I tend to get worrisome looks from others when I’m eating and at this point I’m used to it. 

This is not due to sloppiness or odd food choices, but my ongoing committed relationship with hot sauce. More specifically: Sriracha chili sauce or chipotle smoked Tabasco. (Yes, I am dating them both). People constantly judge my frenzy and frankly I don’t blame them. 

I quite often speculate how my taste buds evolved to withstand the amount of spice I voluntarily bestow upon myself, especially being the only person in my family who smothers their food in such painstaking spice. My fridge has a rack dedicated to a variety of hot sauces that satisfy every craving, and I even have a ‘Sriracha2go’ key chain gracing my keys-- yes, this way I can bring my boyfriend with me everywhere I go. So, you get the picture. I consume an abundance of hot sauce.

However, don’t be quick to judge. There are hidden benefits to consuming spicy foods. So listen here, people:

Capsaicin, the active ingredient in chili peppers, contributes to numerous health benefits such as increased metabolism, increased heart health, the ability to kill cancer cells, & a decrease in blood pressure. Even if you don’t like or can’t tolerate spicy, I highly encourage you to add more tolerable spices such as curry to your food to increase the hidden health benefits

This past May I spent two nights in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia while traveling in Southeast Asia. Between street food and local eateries, there was no lack of extra spicy food, the kind of spice that can even make me sweat a little. In short, I was in absolute heaven. While getting dinner at an eatery, there was a language barrier between my waiter and I, and the menu was entirely in Malay. Therefore, I chose to eat buffet style, although I still could not accurately decipher what I was eating. Despite being clueless, I plated an assortment of meats, chili sauces and rice. Luckily the woman sitting next to me was from Switzerland and spoke pretty fluent English. We bonded over the fact that we had little idea what we were eating and both thoroughly enjoyed suffering through the Malaysian spice. 

To add a little Southeast Asian spice to my life once back in America, I decided to grow Thai peppers. Tonight I was able to enjoy them for the first time--it took me right back across the world.


Monday, July 27, 2015

Props, Cincinnati

I have spent quite some time in Cincinnati over the course of the past year and a half making frequent trips to visit my boyfriend. Each time I’m there we aim to do something new—which for us typically involves food, beer, & the night life.

Even as an avid Clevelander, (who refuses to admit that other cities can have amazing food and beer too) I have to give Cincinnati some well-earned credit.

Similar to Cleveland, the Queen City has experienced a culturally drastic transformation that is constantly attracting millennials to the region. One of the up and coming hot spots that I truly enjoy is the historic district called Over the Rhine, or OTR. This once deserted area now holds a vibrant community with much to offer. OTR is home to local shops, independent eateries, art galleries, theatres, markets & so on. In OTR, Vine Street is the place to be.

Cincinnati Burger Week July 20th-26th:

For Sunday brunch, Braden and I tried a brand new eatery in OTR called Nation. And man, it’s safe to say we will be returning the next time I’m in town. Nation is housed in a building in the flats that is more than 115 years old, and also includes an outdoor patio. However, Nation houses more than great food & local beer.

Here is the history as stated on their website

“At the turn of the 20th century, 6' tall Kentucky-born Carrie Nation ravaged bars across America. Wielding a hatchet, she claimed a divine ordinance to promote temperance by smashing any tavern and saloon that crossed her path. The slogan All Nations welcome but Carrie became a bar-room staple.

Between 1900 and 1910, Carrie was arrested 30 times for her 'hatchetations' until she arrived in Cincinnati. Receiving word of her impending visit, Over-The-Rhine bar owners braced for the worst. Yet upon her arrival Carrie took one step onto Vine street, turned around and left. When asked why she did not follow her usual path of destruction, Carrie's response was
“I would have dropped from exhaustion before I went one block for all the bars in this city.”

Nation serves as a tribute to the rich history of this city and neighborhood. It is meant to be an extension of your living room, a place for gathering neighbors, and a foundation for building community.”

Burgers are the main focus of the menu accompanied by a variety of fries served numerous styles. They even have sriracha ketchup which is a huge win in my book. I truly admire the fact that the menu is only 6-10 items because it allows them to specialize rather than bite off more than they can chew—all about quality not quantity. In addition, they offer a black bean burger and other vegetarian options which are crucial.

Now, their brunch menu, that’s a whole different load of excitement. Nation offers ‘Bottomless Brunch’ for $25 which consists of one brunch food item & unlimited mimosas, bloody ‘carries’, or screwdrivers until 2 pm. Although I was very tempted to order the Hangover Burger with my current state...

 I tried the breakfast burrito with eggs, hashbrowns, and chorizo, topped with queso, pico, & jalapenos only for $7. Unreal.

The local environment, the friendly staff, and the damn good food make this place a go-to.

Brunch Wrap Supreme-Smoked sausage patty, pepper jack cheese, bacon, queso, tater tots, egg, and jalapeƱo relish.

Happy Eating-- Kyra

Monday, July 20, 2015

Ohio Brew Week 2015 (It's a must)

Craft Beer Lovers,

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Ohio Brew Week, you better do your research before next July. Since 2005, Athens, Ohio has hosted a week long festival dedicated to craft beer-- pretty damn awesome, right? The festival showcases hundreds of beers from breweries all over Ohio. Many local restaurants, bars, and venues participate in brew week events, such as outdoor beer gardens & BBQ's. There's even an app for your phone where you can click on the participating businesses and see what beers they'll have on tap that week. You can then check off the list as you go, even "favoriting" ones you enjoyed the most.

Although the entire week was fun-filled (beer-filled), I was spoiled early in the week. Last Monday, Pat Conway, the co-founder of Great Lakes Brewing Company was giving a keynote speech, presentation, & a beer tasting. GLBC opened in Cleveland, Ohio as the first craft brewery in 1988, and continues to grow in popularity despite the increased number of microbreweries in the area. My admiration for Pat Conway and GLBC as a whole now goes far beyond the taste & styles of the beer. Conway stressed many ways that his business promotes environmental sustainability, and how other businesses can do the same. For example, Great Lakes has a ride service called Fatty Wagon that takes customers from the brewery to Cleveland sporting events. The best part is...the Fatty Wagon runs purely on vegetable oil from leftovers in the kitchen. Also, low filled bottles (beer bottles that aren't filled up to 12 oz during the bottling process) are sent to                                                           Mitchell's ice cream for use rather than throwing them away.

However, my favorite takeaway from his presentation was GLBC's unofficial slogan:

"Moderation can be overdone"- Pat Conway

After the presentation, I had the opportunity to chat with Conway. What a cool start to the week.

Later on in the week my family drove down from Ann Arbor and Cleveland to join me in my OBW festivities. Friday night after we went to the beer garden BBQ, we visited to our usual stomping grounds-- Jackie O's Brewery. There's nothing like drinking beers with the people you love on a Friday night. 

One of Athens' hidden gems is the Cider House, a neighborhood corner pub with homemade cider. Knowing how much my sister and her fiance would enjoy the environment, we went Saturday afternoon for some cider and time out of the heat. Later on we ended uptown to the Last Call Festival where there was live music, beer/food trucks, and an abundance of people celebrating the end of brew week. My sister Alli loved Cider House so much we ended back there again that same night.

It's safe to say beer isn't on the menu for me this week... 

Cheers & Happy Monday.

Don't forget to support your local breweries, people!


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Unbeatable Eats-- Happy July!

Many good eats have taken place since my last post and I have been so giddy to share. Holiday weekends always create a monster out of me because I find an excuse to make an abundance of food.

 Starting on Thursday, I decided to make my own marinara sauce for the first time when my boyfriend came to visit. Canned sauce absolutely never compares to the taste of homemade sauce and meatballs (especially my moms). I have never been a fan of red sauce with ground beef mixed in, but I decided to use up some sausage that I had in my fridge. 

1) To add texture to the sauce, I sauteed green pepper and onions on a lower heat with a touch of 
olive oil
2) Seared two sausages in a separate pan that I would later cut into small pieces
3) Added crushed tomatoes to the vegetables and let simmer for fifteen or twenty minutes
4) Threw in chopped up garlic, parsley, and fresh basil from my pot
5) Lastly, I added the sausage to the sauce and VUALA.

BUT the meals of the weekend just keep getting better. On Friday night I tried another new recipe. I love the concept of wrapping anything in lettuce as a substitute for a bun, bread, or wrap. Therefore, I think whoever invented lettuce wraps is absolutely brilliant. I typically enjoy the Asian-style lettuce wraps, but I decided to try something different. 

[Baked buffalo chicken lettuce wraps]

Ingredients; Chicken breasts (we used three for two people), breadcrumbs, buffalo sauce, bleu cheese dressing, head of iceberg lettuce, cherry tomatoes, avocado, white beans (my addition). The original recipe called for quinoa which I did not have.

To begin, I marinated the thawed chicken breasts in buffalo sauce during the day

  • Added breadcrumbs to both sides of the marinated chicken
  • Baked the chicken in the oven for 30 minutes on 375 (I added a little extra buffalo sauce after I added the breadcrumbs)
  • Peeled apart the head of lettuce into lettuce wrap-able pieces
  • Diced the tomatoes and avocado
Once the chicken was ready, I sliced it into smaller pieces. 

Then came the fun part...adding everything together and drizzling bleu cheese on top. 

By far, this was the best simple meal I have ever made. The combination of heat from the sauce paired with fresh vegetables and bleu cheese brought together by the crunch of the lettuce was unbeatable. I highly suggest you try it for yourself! If you aren't a fan of buffalo sauce, or even bleu cheese, this recipe can be easily altered.

The fourth of July menu was a winner as well. 

We made a rack of ribs,  sausage, hot dogs, roasted garlic & ricotta salad, accompanied by watermelon. I was so anxious about trying to recreate my mom's ribs which I have never made before but they fell right off the bone. My mom made it clear that I could not share her recipe with anyone and I'm obliging (but I will tell you they were not made on a grill). Everything turned out a success, but due to hosting people at our apartment, I was too distracted from taking pictures of the food. 

Happy 4th of July :)

Come Monday another new recipe was put to the test with the help of Alyssa. 

[Avocado & Lime Chicken Salad]

Our plan was to make the chicken salad and eat it as a cold, open-faced sandwich. 

It was a damn good plan. 

Ingredients; chicken breasts, avocado, lime, cilantro, green onion, mayo, salt & pepper, garlic.

However, we made slight changes. Instead of using mayo we substituted plain greek yogurt, and instead of lime we used lemon juice (just because we forgot to get a lime). 

To begin, we finely chopped the cilantro and green onion and diced the avocados.  

In a bowl I added about two cups of greek yogurt, 2-4 teaspoons of lemon juice, the chopped greens, avocado, garlic, & a pinch of salt & pepper. 

During this time, we pan cooked chicken breasts on low heat (keeping them tender). Once finished, I threw them in a pan and proceeded to shred them using a fork on a knife. 

Lastly, I added the chicken to the bowl of other ingredients and mixed everything together. I ate my chicken salad on wheat bread and added chipotle Tabasco on top. 

Incredible to say the least. 

The original recipe I found was found at:

Bon Appetit-- Kyra

Monday, June 29, 2015

Cleveland, You Spoil Me.

I was very much looking forward to my weekend at home in Cleveland with my family...and with all of my home town's immaculate food. Anytime anyone asks me my favorite thing to do in Cleveland I immediately tell them the West Side Market. The WSM, Cleveland's largest publicly owned market, was opened in 1912. Over 100 food vendors of great ethnic diversity have booths at the market. You can find fresh sea food, meats, dairy, fruits & veggies--pretty much anything you need-- at unbeatable prices for such outstanding quality. This market is very well known, and draws in millions of customers yearly due to being featured in numerous shows on the food network. Every time I get the chance to visit the market, I have a set agenda of the booths I visit which typically consist of Ohio City Pasta, Noodlecat, Fresh Enchiladas, Mediterra Bakehouse, Steve's Gyros, Crepes de Luxe, and many more. HOWEVER, Noodlecat, my all time favorite booth that serves asian steamed buns no longer has a booth at the market. Yes, there were literal tears when I discovered this. 

Naturally, this weekend my older sister Alli and I made our routine stop at the market on Friday. I made her try Cambodian fruit called Rambutans which she thought were interesting...but good. I was happy she had the chance to try them since I bought them quite frequently on the streets of Asia. 

After our market excursion, we made our way over to East 4th and the theater district. Across the street I spotted the Noodlecat restaurant, and my weekend was immediately complete. I kid you not I ran across the street because I was so happy...Alli has the pictures to prove it. Her and I both ordered three steam buns each. Mine were Ohio City BBQ pulled pork (the best there is), onion tempura, and spicy fried chicken. While scarfing them down, we people-watched for about an hour. It was shocking how booming downtown Cleveland now during the lunch hour. Can't wait to live down there at some point. 


All around stuffed...

I owe this one to my roommate Alyssa for spoiling me last Thursday night with this delicious meal which I've been craving for months-- stuffed peppers. She even used a green pepper (my favorite) specifically for me while everyone else used red. 
--Filled with ground turkey, rice, chopped onions, topped off with cheese and sriracha, of course. The peppers were first boiled in water to become soft, then after the ingredients were added, she baked them in the oven. 

The peppers were SO filling and perfect washed down with a GLBC Commodore Perry IPA. Thanks, Lyss!