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Cool Article of the Week: 9/1-9/10

Photo credit: spoonful.com
Photo credit: spoonful.com

This cool article of the week comes from an email my mom sent me (hey mom!), and its for all of the sweet tooths out there!

She knows I LOVE these two things: Disney, and cupcakes.

So when I saw that it was the top 45 Disney cupcake recipes, from Spoonful, I was beyond excited to page through the photo gallery!

In this gallery you will see all sorts of Disney character goodness formed into cute cupcakes, including the aliens from Toy Story, the cars from the Cars movies, and one of my personal faves from the list, which I have pictured here: Cogsworth from Beauty & the Beast!

Enjoy, and please let me know which one(s) are your favorites!

FOODventures in CLEVELAND

One of my very good friends lives in Cleveland. Over the weekend, I road tripped up to #CLE to visit her and her boyfriend!

#FIRSTTIMEINCLEVELAND !

My friend has been telling me about all the amazing #CLE food, and the week prior to me coming, she even sent me an awesome link to a garlic festival. Garlic rules. We did drive by it, and not only was there a HUGE blow up garlic in the park, there was a guy dressed up in a garlic costume walking around.

In preps of visiting this dear city of Cleveland, who loves The Drew Carey Show? Me!

In my head I cue this song (which I played via my phone in my friends apartment Sunday to figure out what buildings I recognized this weekend):

There is SO much energy and pride for this city going on in #cle. Huge crowds headed to Indians games, people of all ages bustling around all of the cool neighborhoods, people grabbing drinks with their friends at the cute outdoor beer garden restaurants. Just a gorgeous place.

Here are some of the foodie places my friend took me to:

1) Tommys Restaurant

1824 Coventry Road
Cleveland Heights, OH 44118
216-321-7757

Hours:   Sunday – Thursday:  9am – 9pm
Friday:                       9am – 10pm
Saturday:                  7:30am-10pm

What I ate: Veggie Burger with cheese:  Brown rice, scallions, carrots, garlic, parsley, onions, adzuki beans, shaped like patties and fried. Served on a wheat bun. $8.75.

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My thoughts: Now THIS, my friends, is what I call a burger. By first glance, would you think this is all veggie? Me, no (well, maybe the sprouts would make me think it, but really, no). This burger is HUGE, and it will fill you up. The patty itself did taste very “meaty,” and had great a great flavor combination. I normally don’t like sprouts, but all the veggies piled together, along with the big wheat bun, made for a fantastic sandwich. It’s one of those stretch-your-jaw ones. What brought it over the top for me was the brown mustard sauce that came on the side, giving it the extra kick. The sandwich as a whole was not dry by no means: it was moist and juicy.

Why you should go: Now yes, I ate a veggie burger, but Tommy’s isn’t just a vegetarian place. There are lots of meat options. For breakfast, you can get items such as omelets or breakfast egg sandwiches (including the Elsie Combo, which has two fried eggs, two strips of bacon, Mayo, American cheese and peanut butter made into a triple decker sandwich (choice of toast). My friend told me the breakfast at Tommy’s is really, really good, but if you want to get that, you will have to come at the right time (we unfortunately missed it by 15 minutes). For lunch and dinner, there are plenty of beef-filled burgers, tuna sandwiches (such as the A.D. which has tuna, mushrooms, falafel, tomato and cheese), falafel sandwiches (such as the D.C. my friend got which has falafel, veggies, mushrooms, sunflower seeds, sesame sauce, cheese, pictured below), hummus, etc. Tommy’s is also known for its milkshakes, with flavors of Vanilla, Chocolate, Cherry, Peach, Strawberry, Coffee, Mocha, Mint Chocolate Chip, Root Beer, Black Cherry, Cookies & Cream, Cookie Dough, Moosetracks and Black Raspberry Chip. Pumpkin Pie & Peppermint Stick are its seasonal flavors. Tommy’s has also had visit from the likes of famous celebs such as Al Roker, Drew Carey, Heather Graham, Molly Shannon and Sheryl Crow’s band (yes, her band. One of our favorite parts of reading this on its menu). You can check out all of the celebs that have been to Tommy’s here.

2) Melt Bar and Grilled (several locations, I went to Lakewood)

14718 Detroit Ave.
Lakewood, OH 44107
216.226.3699

Monday-Thursday: 11:00am – 11:00pm
Friday-Saturday: 11:00am – 12:00 midnight
Sunday: 11:00am – 11:00pm
Bar open till 2:00am every night.

What I ate: Monte Cristo: honey ham, smoked turkey, Swiss, American, crispy battered & deep fried, mixed berry preserves $11.50 .

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My thoughts: One of the best grilled cheese sandwiches EVER. HANDS DOWN. I’ve had a Monte Cristo at Bennigan’s before, but this blows Bennigan’s sandwich wayyy out of the water.I wasn’t sure which sandwich to choose at first. All of the grilled cheeses (the restaurants specialty) on its menu were mouthwatering. I narrowed it down between that one, The Dude Abides (homemade meatballs, fried mozzarella wedges, rich marinara, provolone & romano) and the Parmageddon (potato & onion pierogi, fresh napa vodka kraut, sautéed onions, sharp cheddar). I originally didn’t want the Monte Cristo, but when I saw the guy next to me get it, AND the waitress said its the restaurant’s signature sandwich, and with my friend saying I should try it, I got it, and woah. This is a balanced nirvana sandwich: there’s the savory of the honey ham, smoked turkey and two cheeses, then with the sandwich being battered and deep fried, AND with the sweet powdered sugar on top, AND having the tangy mixed berry sauce to dip in on the side, it was like this beautiful fried dough cheesy goodness. I was hungry, and devoured the entire plate. The hand cut fries were great too. A great bang for your buck too.

Why you should go: The experience itself is even more reason to go. There will be a bit of a wait depending on the time you head there, but instead of being given the standard beeper or just name calling when your table’s ready, this restaurant steps it up a notch with labels. But not just any name labels. Mine said something along the lines of “Garfield 1232-3”. My friend and I had absolutely no idea what that meant, but that’s okay. It’s all part of the awesome fun. And hey while you’re waiting, check out all of the cool decor around the room, as well as throughout the restaurant.  As you head to your table, the host will explain the label’s meaning to you. Apparently the one I wore was a phrase from a jingle from a roofing company commercial. Tons more funky phrases like that on the labels. The #1 reason: its grilled cheeses are to die for. And if you’re vegetarian, there are plenty of options too (even though the menu has a lot of meat filled ones). Just check the menu for V (vegetarian), VA (vegetarian option available), and VG (vegan available). Truthfully, as it’s a grilled cheese place, I’m not really sure why people would get anything else on the menu, but I will say, the other stuff on the menu, such as burgers, desserts and appetizers, look great too. But yes, when you go to Cleveland, you need to head to Melt. ASAP.

3) Big Al’s Diner

12600 Larchmere Blvd Cleveland OH 44120

What I ate: The dish that landed this mom & pop dining spot on Food Network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” show, its corned beef hash, along with some scrambled eggs and wheat toast.

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My thoughts: Chef Michael Symon named the corned beef hash the “best thing he ever ate,” on that show, also saying it “magic on a plate.” I definitely thought it was delicious: I liked how the corned beef was salty with the mix of the green peppers and the potatoes that were cut up and looked like unfried French fries. The eggs were fluffy and moist. I just felt like it needed a sauce on top. Just to make it a little more moist, and to add a creamy texture to the mix. I’ll admit, I added hot sauce and pepper on top to give it that extra oomph. So while Michael, I do not agree with you this time, you definitely have a contender.

Why you should go: It’s definitely that hole-in-the-wall diner in the neighborhood that people flock to, and I could see why. Prices are pretty cheap, the food is good, and you can get breakfast, lunch or dinner. A small forewarning though, something we learned while there: you have to seat yourself. We waited for a little bit and then noticed how people were seating themselves in tables as soon as a party upped and left, so we followed suit. Also, be prepared to wait a little while for your food, as they say they cook each dish to order. We did wait a little while for the food. But overall, we thought it was a decent place.

Now something I also learned from my friend while in Cleveland is that this city is full of amazing BEERS! Some places we checked out/walked by that I recommend: Market Garden, Nano Brew, Great Lakes Brewery, and Tremont Taphouse.

At several of these places we witnessed outdoor beer garden seating (I LOVED the outdoor seating at Market Garden at Tremont Taphouse: both had places to sit outdoors with beautiful hanging bulb lights).

I personally love the fruity beers myself, so here’s my list of what to find in #CLE that’s fruity and delicious:

IMG_4773ACE Pear Cider (pictured left): Got this at Melt Bar and Grilled. Essentially tasted like a cold sparkling glass of pear juice. It wasn’t overly sweet, but it wasn’t too bitter either. My friend agreed, saying she thought it tasted like pear juice.

Southern Tier Pumking (pictured right): My friend had this at Melt Bar and Grilled. A spice-filled, warm, cozy tasting beer.

ACE Pumpkin Cider (not pictured): Got that at Market Garden. My friend and I both agreed it tasted like Pumpkin Pie in a glass.

 

There are so many neighborhoods, so many foodie places to check out in Cleveland. The next time I visit, I want to venture into its Little Italy neighborhood, and check out the bar devoted to chocolate.

Next time you head to Cleveland, or if you are from there, please let me know where you go to eat/drink, or please let me know where I should go next!

Enjoy.

Cool Article of the Week — 8/18- 8/24

This cool article of the week comes from one of my favorite foodie sources: Serious Eats, from its pizza blog called Slice.

If you love pizza, you’re going to LOVE this article.

Have you ever wanted to learn how you toss the pizzas in the air?

I certainly have…Raise your hand if you’ve tried this out ::raises hand:: .

It’s not an easy task!

But the chef in the video within the article, which uses a cool go-pro video camera I might add, put together a great time-lapse video of how a pizza is made, to some music that will make you want to clap your hands and bop along.

I truly enjoyed it…And am now craving some pizza.

Where’s your favorite place to get pizza?

Enjoy 🙂

CHEAP EATS: Turkey & Cheese Roll-Ups

Earlier the week before, inspired by a guest on the show I work on and by a recipe my aunt makes. I bought some Crescent rolls, some lunch meat and some cheeses at Kroger.

Last night I was SUPER hungry and wanted something fast and easy to make.

The time had come to combine all three of the ingredients spoken of above, plus a little sauce for a kick, to make some awesome turkey & cheese roll-ups.

Here are the ingredients:

L-R: Sliced oven roasted turkey breast, garlic & herb monterey jack cheese, reduced fat Pillsbury crescent, Kraft lite honey dijon dressing
L-R: Sliced oven roasted turkey breast, garlic & herb monterey jack cheese, reduced fat Pillsbury crescent, Kraft lite honey dijon dressing

Here’s how I made them:

1) Unravel crescent rolls onto a baking sheet, and preheat oven to 375. Put a dallop of the dressing on each triangle, spread evenly across the dough:

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2) Layer cheese onto triangles (I did half a slice onto each triangle):

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3) Layer one slice of turkey into each triangle (depending on size you could do half a slice), then roll up like so:IMG_4185

4) Normal baking time for crescent rolls is about 13 minutes at 375. After checking at 13 minutes I decided to put it back in the oven for another 5 minutes or so, just to make sure all the dough is cooked (because it’s a thicker circumference)!)

5) Put on your plate and eat up! What I love about this particular combo is you get the garlic taste, balanced with the sweet honey dijon and you get your protein in there too. Yummy, and SO easy to make. And cheap too!

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Enjoy 🙂

PINTEREST DINNER: Potato Chip Casserole

Sometimes, you just don’t feel like cooking.

Am I right friends?

I absolutely love cooking, but as a single chickie exploring her new city, I love trying all the different new foodie spots around here. (And by the way, I freaking love Kroger sushi as a meal. Inexpensive, fresh, and a great variety. If you love sushi, you should try it!)

But then there are some times where you want to cook, but you don’t want to spend all your time (and money!) whipping up a fancy dinner.

I’ll admit, that happens to me. One of my latest go-to meals so far here in Dayton is this delicious popcorn chicken (from Kroger) , buffalo style or plain, you throw it in the oven for 20 minutes, and then I either have some salad or pasta with it.

But tonight I wanted something different. Something easy to make, but a step up from popcorn chicken and salads.

I was thinking about what I had already in my kitchen, and how I could enhance it.

My mind went to the two low sodium chunk light tuna cans I had in the cabinet.

I went to Pinterest and searched “easy dinner recipes tuna” and found this gem:

Potato Chip Casserole.

My first reaction while sitting in the car looking at this before I go into Kroger: “Whaaaaaat?!” (In excitement!)

The description is what sold me: “Potato Chip Casserole. Easy recipe. Five ingredients. Half hour in the oven. Dinner is served!”

Here’s the recipe from franklymydearmojo.com:

INGREDIENTS:

1 bag (12 oz.) potato chips, crushed
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup, undiluted
1 can Cream of Chicken soup, undiluted
1/2 soup can of milk
1 can (12 oz.) chicken or tuna

Well, I modified the recipe for me. There’s now 6 ingredients (the sixth you’ll see later):

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A can of cream of chicken soup, a can of cream of mushroom soup, TWO cans of tuna, three big handfuls (that you crush up) of potato chips (I used reduced fat ones), and half a soup can of milk.

Here’s how I made it:

1) Add the can of cream of mushroom soup into a bowl.

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2) Test the potato chips (because well, you have to test the potato chips, right? 🙂 )

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3) Add the cream of chicken soup can & the three big handfuls of potato chips (don’t forget to crush those with your hands!):

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4) Wash and drain the tuna (I always like to do that, especially if its in water or oil):

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5) Add the tuna into the bowl:

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6) Add the half cup of milk:IMG_4025

7) Add two slices of cheddar cheese (who doesn’t love cheese?! :))IMG_4026

8) Mix it all up in the bowl!

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9) I used a small Pyrex casserole dish, pour and spread mixture evenly into dish, and I added some potato chips on top (for presentation purposes ;))IMG_4029

10) Bake at 350 for 35 minutes (I let it cook a little longer than the recipe says, 30 minutes)

Here’s what it looks like when it’s done:

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11) Scoop some in a bowl, add your seasonings (I used some black pepper)

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12) Enjoy!

I’ve never had a potato chip casserole before, what I am loving about this dish is that the potato chips when cooked disguise for a mashed potato taste, and then with the tuna, the two soups added in and the dash of cheese and milk, it makes for a rich, hearty, filling dish, that won’t cost you the big bucks, and is super easy to make!

Cool Article of the Week — 7/29 — 8/3

Chocoholics (::raises hand::) this is for you.

This cool article of the week comes from one of my new favorite food news sources : BuzzFeed Food.

I saw they had tweeted this story, and I literally said out loud to myself, “Really?!”,in a surprised, yet intrigued way.

According to a study out of Belgian university (where coincidentally, ALOT of yummy chocolate comes from, the country of Belgium, i.e. Guylian), the smell of chocolate encourages people to shop for books longer.

Seriously!

Researchers pumped the scent of chocolate into a bookstore over there for half of the day.

201 customers were analyzed.

And the result was that “customers were more than twice as likely to browse through more than one book during the chocolate hours,” according to this study.

There’s another interesting factoid in the BuzzFeed Food article, but I don’t want to give it away, I want you to check this out for yourself, and let me know what you think!

If you smell some chocolate in the bookstore, who knows, you may just walk away buying a big stack load of books!

Here’s the article, pictures and all.

Photo Credit: lemonandlyme.com

 

SWEET TREATS: Buckeye Brownies

One of the first things I heard about when I moved here to Ohio was this:

Buckeyes.

I knew of the sports team, but what I didn’t discover until I was physically here in Ohio   were the chocolatey peanut butter desserts sold here.

Here’s an instance of a Buckeye foodie discovery I had while out and about.

I go to one of the local supermarkets here (Dorothy Lane Market), and am browsing around one of the cases of desserts. I’m seeing all of these Killer Brownies it makes (that could be a whole other post by the way: these are these thick, moist brownies with gooey delicious layers in the middle), and then lo and behind I see a Buckeye.

Thinking about it now, here’s something coincidental about this.

The size of the buckeye I tried there, at least circumference wise, is the size of an O you form with your hand. O for Ohio! Eyyy! 🙂

If you haven’t tried a Buckeye before, it’s a peanut butter ball covered in chocolate just enough so the peanut butter is still sticking out.

It looks just like the nut that comes off of a Buckeye tree.

The other night I was thinking about something I could bake (and surprise!) for a dear coworker whose last day was Monday. She is moving away from Ohio, and so I went to Pinterest for some inspiration.

I love baking brownies. While browsing for brownie ideas, I by chance came across this recipe.: (thank you My Patchwork Quilt!)

Buckeye Brownies

19 1/2 oz. pkg. brownie mix
2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. plus 6 T. butter, softened and divided
8 oz. jar creamy peanut butter
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Prepare and bake brownie mix in greased 9″ x 13″ baking pan according to pkg. directions. Let cool.

Mix powdered sugar, 1/2 c. butter, and peanut butter in a bowl.

Mix well (I used electric mixer) and spread over cooled brownies.

Chill for 1 hour.

Melt together chocolate chips and remaining butter in a saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally.

Spread over brownies.

Let cool; cut into squares.

Makes 2-3 dozen.

I modified the recipe just a tad: I used a brownie box mix that wasn’t 19 1/2 oz (honestly, I couldn’t find one that big!), so I used an 18 oz box.

Another thing I did that’s different from the recipe: the brownie box I got didn’t have the cooking time for the brownie pan that was required in the recipe (9 x 13), so I played with the timing with my trick below.

With any brownie or cake, what you want to do to tell it is done is to stick something in the middle of it (normally I’d go for toothpicks, but since I don’t have any right now, I used a fork). If it comes out clean, your baked good is done, if it comes out with dough stuck to it, you need to cook it some more. This is when you keep a close eye on the oven, these final minutes.

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Another modification I did was I added more chocolate chips instead of just 6 ounces (because I ran out when it was just 6 ounces), and added some more butter in when I added the extra chocolate.

A good trick for melting ANY chocolate (and thank you Culinary Arts class in high school for this tip), is to melt it in a double boiler (pictures above), not just in the saucepan alone. That way, there is no chance of your chocolate burning. A double boiler is when you boil a pot of water (or in this case, I put it to medium heat), and put a bowl on top with the chocolate in it, and melt it / stir it up that way.

Another thing I did was I chilled the brownies overnight in the fridge after putting the melted chocolate on top.

Pouring the melted chocolate on the brownies!
Pouring the melted chocolate on the brownies!

Now I’ll admit, it was a little hard to cut them today, but I will tell you, these brownies are SUPER delicious, chocolatey, fudgy and moist. I especially loved the chocolate with the fluffy peanut butter frosting/filling concoction in the middle. My now former coworker enjoyed them too, which I am so glad about :). I made them especially to remind her of home before she leaves for another coast :).

I officially really really really love Buckeyes :).

Enjoy!

MEATLESS MONDAY: Corn, corn, corn!

Corn, corn, corn. Photo credit: http://www.etftrends.com

Happy Monday!

I’m kicking off the week with an ode to corn.

Earlier Sunday afternoon I took a drive through the countryside here in Ohio. Music blasting, I’m driving through this almost tunnel like road lined with beautiful trees. The road winds around, and all of a sudden I’m driving through open space. Gorgeous open fields. Of corn.

So much green around me, I took it all in.

Which tonight got me thinking about the corn itself. Those golden yellow kernels, the butter, the little corn on the cob holders, and the little dishes you put the corn in. I flash back to my days in Connecticut, going to Stew Leonard’s with my family and picking out corn on the cob with them to have at dinner. We’d come home, and I’d always help out with shucking the cobs of their exterior green coats, and boiling all the cobs in a big pot of water, then eating it with just some butter on it, no salt or pepper or anything. The perfect summer food. Love. It.

I flash back to one point in time when my aunt (a wonderful chef), did something a little different with the corn one year at our house.  She made this chili lime butter and dipped the cooked corn on the cob in it,  rolled it in Parmesan cheese, then put it on a wooden skewer.

It was incredible. I’d never had anything like it. Since then, my dad and I still do the Parmesan cheese thing with the corn (but instead of chili lime butter, we melts butter with chives).

I love popcorn, I love corn on the cob, but I remember that chili lime butter Parmesan dipped corn being so cool. It was fun. To have corn in that different, more dressed up way.

But when it stands on its own, how does it benefit our health?

Here’s what whfoods.com has to say (I picked out a few noteworthy items):

  • It’s a good source of vitamin C.

  • Its good sources of fiber and protein help stabilize the passing of food through our digestive tracts; that helps make it easier to avoid sudden spikes/drops in our blood sugar.

Bottom line: corn IS good for our health.  But you don’t have to just eat it plain, up to you. It certainly has enough power to stand on its own, but there are so many different options with corn you can try!

Below are some fun recipes I came across for cooking with corn this summer! Happy eating.

http://www.seriouseats.com/2013/07/how-to-make-mexican-street-corn-elotes.html?ref=pop_serious_eats

http://www.marthastewart.com/356647/corn-salad

http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/coconut-shrimp-corn-chowder-10000001167280/index.html

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/corn-fritters-recipe/index.html

How do you like your corn? On the cob, off the cob, popcorn, fritters, soup, dessert? Join the conversation below!

LONG ISLAND : When music and food come together

The Next Level Band. Photo credit: http://www.gigmasters.com/Live-Band/The-Next-Level-Band/

If there’s something I say everyday, it’s that music connects.

To me, it connects people in ways words alone can’t.

Besides being a foodie (and constant tweeter/Facebooker!), I am a singer. You will find me constantly listening to music, piecing out the little things in music I love, such as when a song resolves itself.

On Facebook back in February, I learned of the passing of a truly talented, wonderful Long Island female singer.

When I heard the news, I was shocked. My mind immediately goes back to that one and only time I met her. The night I found out, I texted my friend who I went with, Alyssa, and we were both stunned.

You may remember in November of 2011 I blogged about going to Tequila Jacks in Port Jefferson village and loving the experience. Besides the food and tropical drinks, the music sealed the deal for me.

A husband and wife musical group, The Next Level Band was playing the night I went with my friend Alyssa, and while we waited for our table, I heard this woman, La Dawn Parris, singing Reggae/Calypso versions of top 40 hits while her husband, Tyrone, played the instruments (and sang some songs too!). I was mesmerized by this group, but especially La Dawn. I didn’t even introduce myself yet and found myself singing along while she was singing, and she noticed too, and smiled at me. It was a blast. La Dawn would even dance with the listeners dancing in the bar.

At the end of said night, I walked right up to La Dawn and introduced myself. I told her she has an amazing voice, how the band is awesome, and I hope to see them again soon. I took one of their cards and we were invited to come back the week after.

Well, it’s been over a year and a half later. And I STILL haven’t been back to Tequila Jacks. Not because I didn’t want to go back. I really have no excuse.

Life happens.

But, if there’s something that constantly amazes me about this beautiful life we all live, it’s how people come in and out of your life, sometimes very quickly.

So I say this. Cherish and live in your life’s moments.

While I only met La Dawn once and didn’t know anything about her beside the fact she’s an amazing singer and her warmth and positive energy glowed the time I saw her —

honestly —

that’s all I needed to know. In that moment. And now.

Rest in peace, La Dawn Parris.

Through my love of food and love of music, I met you once. I heard your song.

Your music moved me, and I will remember that for the rest of my life.

Here is just a snippet of her singing that night.

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