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Stuffed Poblano Peppers

30 Jun

I made these stuffed poblano peppers tonight for dinner.  Wow, they were so good.  I mean, not to brag, but they came out awesome!

I wasn’t thinking ahead to this post, so there are no step by step pictures.  But, I can link to the recipe I used and tell you where I varied it.Original Recipe

So, where I varied…

For the chicken – she doesn’t describe the step so I took some liberties.  I cooked the chicken in the slow cooker with water and basically made a brine.  Water, salt, pepper, chipotle powder and fine cumin powder.  I let that go then shredded it.

Also – I didn’t use fresh tomatoes, I bought a small can of fire roasted tomatoes, drained it and added it straight to the mixture after the “cook the onions and garlic step”.

I also used a mexican blend of cheese for the mixture plus a little queso that I diced up.  The queso is also what I used on top.

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Otherwise, I stayed pretty true to the original.  I could totally see doctoring this up or trying out different variations.  I seriously debated adding red pepper flakes, but I didn’t.  I served it with a little tomato and onion salad (just olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt, pepper and cilantro.

Overall, this dish was a hit I think!  I had ever intention of grilling the peppers tonight, but mother nature had other plans so I did these in the oven.  We did, however get to hit the roof to grill up some pineapple.  And wow, just grill some fruit.  Any fruit.  It make it even better.

Overall this dish got a thumbs up from me and my taste tester!!  And – ahem- it’s relatively healthy.  This is primarily veggies and protein!

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Spoon Review

21 Aug

I just got back from a little vacation to Ocean City with the girls.  But before I left Shannon and I went to Spoon in East Liberty for a very tasty dinner.  We also had some fun going to a trunk show at Luxe showroom around the corner that a friend (Adam) suggested I check out.  So I dragged Shannon there for a few hours to meet up with him and look at some jewelry and clothes.  I love how East Liberty is in transformation (like much of the city).  There are still some sketchy areas, but with all of the restaurants and stores it’s definitely up and coming.

Back to the food!  Shannon and I went there because I wanted to go someplace in East Liberty and it was restaurant week and Spoon was on the list.  I originally had every intention of ordering the chef’s restaurant week menu, but there was a halibut with a goat cheese ravioli that sounded too good not to get.  Shannon and I actually both ended up getting that.

I started with an heirloom tomato salad that was fantastic.  I love how each of the tomatoes have their own flavor and texture.  They were all similar but different.

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Shannon got a salad with a wonderful dressing.

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We ended up sharing both so we could both try everything.  Since we were ordering the same meal I’m only giving you a review of the halibut.  It was absolutely delicious.  The fish was cooked perfectly and I loved how it was served.  The ravioli was also wonderful, I love the tang of goat cheese in a ravioli.

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The only other thing I’ll mention is a rum drink that I had at the trunk show.  When we got there I tried a friend’s rum drink and immediately went to find one of my own.  It was a spicy rum punch.  It tasted like autumn.  At first the guy making the drink laughed at my description, but I’m telling you that I was spot on (Shannon agreed with me, so I felt justified in my description).  If I can find what was in it I will let everyone know!

Now back to the 3 loads of laundry that I have to do after coming back from vacation.

Spoon on Urbanspoon

I’m Baaaack… and a review of Kavsar

10 Jul

It’s definitely been a while and I have a very poor excuse for my absence.  My life just got in the way of my going out to eat and watching movies!  Not that I haven’t been going out, I certainly have!  I’ve just been going places that I’ve already been to and cooking easy meals that either aren’t worth posting (umm, spaghetti with meat sauce) or things I’ve already showed you how to make.  I will admit that I’ve been hitting up a new breakfast place quite frequently and will definitely write up a review soon since I am pretty sure I’ve had about 5 things on the menu already and loved all of it.

Jen found an article about Kavsar a month or two ago and we decided that we should definitely hit up this Uzbek restaurant.  Because honestly, I’ve never had anything from Uzbekistan and Pittsburgh doesn’t have much in the way of middle eastern cuisine.  Quick geography lesson for everyone, Uzbekistan is north of Iran and Afghanistan.  So we decided to hit up this cozy place on Mt. Washington on the corner of Southern and Shiloh.  The restaurant itself is in a renovated house.  The dining room is upstairs and you have to brave the uneven Pittsburgh stairs in order to get up there.  In the dining room they had live music.  At first I thought he was just going to play the keyboard but then he sang, and while it was a bit loud, he did have a decent voice!

Kavsar seems to be run by a family and the service was different.  I won’t say it was bad, it just wasn’t American style so you have to be a little flexible.  The two girls working the dining room were very sweet, I just think a few things get lost in translation and we definitely could have been more clear with what we wanted done with the check (long story, I won’t get into it but it really wasn’t a big deal).

Ok, on to the food… finally!

We figured, hey, we’re in this Uzbek restaurant, we probably won’t come back (or at least not often), lets try some stuff since it was all reasonably priced.  We decided to start with an appetizer.  I actually asked the girl serving us what she liked best and she recommended that we get the Julien in Pancake Bags with the chicken.  This was really tasty.  We usually think of pancakes as being something sweet and I forget that they can also be savory.  These were very thin, almost crepe like and filled with a chicken and mushroom mixture in a  creamy sauce.  Jen was nice and ate them with me by picking out the mushrooms since she doesn’t like them.  I would definitely suggest you get these if you try out this restaurant, it was worth trying out.

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As usual, Jen and I shared the main dishes as well as the app.  The first thing on the entree list came with the following description:  Palov is the symbol of Uzbek food. It is prepared in every Uzbekistan family, whether Uzbek, Russian, Tatar of Korean. Uzbek palov is the part of mentality of Uzbekistan people and traditionally it is cooked by men.

So We decided that we had to try it since it was the only item that came with a description like that.  I mean when in Rome (or an Uzbek restaurant)…  There was definitely a heavy tomato flavor on the rice, which I loved.  I’m honestly not sure how to describe the rest of the seasoning, it wasn’t especially spicy or anything, but it was very good.  The beef was good and was sliced thin and served over the rice.

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The other dish we opted to try Kovurma Chuchvara – small, handmade dumplings filled with ground beef and onion.  It said that they were roasted on the menu, but the certainly tasted fried to me!  They were really good and were served with a little sour cream to dip in.  The onion mixture in these was really fantastic.  And they were bite sized, so they were really easy to eat, honestly, I could have kept eating these delicious little puffs.

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Overall, this was definitely something different to try and I’m very glad we went.  I really enjoyed the food and I’m happy that something middle eastern has opened up as that is definitely a hole in the Pittsburgh restaurant scene.  Another friend of mine recently tried a Turkish restaurant in the Regent Square area and he said that it was really good and also very reasonably priced so I’d like to hit that up soon as well.  I’m not sure I’d be a regular at Kavsar, maybe if I lived nearby I would be.  But even at that, there are several places on Shiloh that are also good.  In fact, when we were done Jen and I walked down the street for some soft serve ice cream.  Because it’s summer and I’m allowed to have ice cream!

So, if you are in the mood for something different from the ordinary, give this family run place a try.

KAVSAR Uzbek Halal Restaurant on Urbanspoon

 

 

Sienna Mercato Review (first time)

26 Apr

I’m trying to get this done while I’m still awake and remember what all we ordered tonight.  We had all been talking about gong to Mercato (aka Emporio) for a few weeks now.  Honestly, I didn’t think we’d make an appearance until the rooftop bar opened later in May.  But we decided to hit it up tonight for some drinks and meatballs.

Yes, this is a meatball themed restaurant.  Pick a ball (beef, spicy pork, veggie or chicken), pick a sauce, pick a serving option.  We all decided on different things.  I got a spicy pork meatball with the arribiatta sauce.  So it was spicy and delicious and was truly memorable.  I loved the sauce on this one, it was a great tomato sauce with a kick and I really like spicy food.  My other choice was a chicken meatball with the mushroom gravy.  It was good, but nothing to write home about (unlike the other ball).

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Maura went with the beef meatballs for both with different sauces.  On one she got the parmesan and on the other the pesto.  She was nice and let me have a tiny bite of both so I could try the sauces.  I have to say, both were amazing but I’ll give it to the parmesan on this one.  I really enjoyed it.

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Ok, I admit, I forget what type of ball Niki ordered, but I do remember the sauces she choose!  She got the parm (like Maura) and also the tzatziki.  I tried the tzatziki that she ordered and it was really good.  I liked the cool cucumber sauce (that you’ve had if you’ve ever ordered a gyro) with the meatball.  It was a nice complement.

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And because this was on the menu and neither Niki nor Maura had ever experienced the joy that is poutine (is it just me or does that sound like a slightly dirty word) we ordered some.  So if you haven’t had it yet, it is fries with gravy and cheese curds.  And it is heaven on a plate.  Artery clogging heaven on a plate.  This was good poutine, not the best I’ve had in the city, but really good.

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So my overall on this place was a serious thumbs up.  I really can’t wait to go back and try the different combinations of meatballs and sauces as well as some of the other sides.  I loved the atmosphere and I can’t wait for the top two levels to open up over the next two months.  And again, go downtown for yet another great new addition for the after-work crowd!

Emporio: A Meatball Joint on Urbanspoon

 

Planning and Cooking for Shoulder Surgery

17 Oct

I found out earlier this week that I’m going to have rotator cuff surgery in early December.  I tore it months ago while lifting weights very very poorly.  I knew better, I have been lifting since I was in High School.  So here’s my note to everyone, if you are doing something in a class or at the gym and think that it doesn’t feel quite right, STOP.  Ask the instructor or a trainer for help.  Man do I wish I would have just stopped and corrected myself instead of working through it all.  Also, on a funny note, I’m 35 and this is my 3rd surgery due to athletics.  Seriously, maybe I should just stop trying to be athletic (kidding, I won’t stop).

So for the next few weeks I’m going to be making myself some meals and freezing them.  Unfortunately it’s my right shoulder, so cooking and eating will be a challenge.  Here are the things I’m planning on making ahead.  I’ll post recipes and pictures when I actually make them.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

White Chicken Chile

Pot Roast (this one I’m planning on putting together and putting into a freezer bag and throwing it all in the crock pot the day I want it)

Red Curry Chicken

Lasagna (this is on the maybe list)

With the other things that I have in the freezer already this should get me through the 6 weeks of being in a sling having very limited movement.  My mom offered to take care of me, but I don’t want to make her cook constantly and I’d like to eat healthfully while I’m sitting on my butt.

Anyone have any other ideas for things that are easy to freeze?  Anyone have similar surgery before with words of wisdom?

Scallops and Orzo

11 Sep

I made one of my favorite meals tonight for dinner.  It’s super simple and only takes about 20 minutes to come together.  I can’t for the life of me remember where I first saw this recipe, but I’ve been making it for about 4 years now.  It’s a very light meal but satisfying.

What you’ll need:

8-12 oz Sea Scallops (this recipe is for 2 servings only, so you’re call on how much protein you want, I usually opt for 12 because 2 scallops just seems like too little)

Olive oil

1/4 cup finely diced onion

1/2 cup Orzo Pasta

1/2 cup chicken broth

2 oz white wine

Dry thyme (about 1/2 tsp I think)

Lemon

Chives (about 1 tsp or so)

Pat dry the scallops and season with salt and pepper, set aside for a minute.

in a small saucepan, put a little olive oil and saute the onion until translucent.  (Also I turn on the pan for the scallops at this point, just medium heat.)

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Add the chicken broth, wine, orzo and thyme to the onion in the saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and cover.  Simmer until the pasta is done.  I do check it from time to time because the orzo has a tendency to stick.  Add water if it’s absorbing the broth too fast.

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While that is cooking, add a little olive oil to a the frying pan for the scallops.  Just cook it for about 3-5 minutes per side depending on how well done you like your scallops and also how thick they are.  Just make sure you get a good sear on them!

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Once the Orzo is done al dente, squeeze in the lemon juice and add in the chives.  IMG_0817

And I forgot to take a picture of my plate, so here are the leftovers 🙂

IMG_0818I’ll freely admit that I really need to start taking pictures with my camera and not my iPhone.  It’s just the iPhone is always there and the camera is usually hiding from me somewhere.  I will TRY to do better!

I usually serve this with a small side salad, but any veggie would be a good addition.  I think that the next time I make this I’m going to sub quinoa for the orzo.  This comes in at about 450 calories and 7 grams of fat.

That is all for today!

The Butler Review

2 Sep

It was a movie weekend here.  There were just so many that I wanted to see out right now and I only made a small dent.  So today I went to see The Butler.

Lee Daniels' The Butler (2013) Poster

It was fantastic.  The acting was amazing and the story was so compelling.  This movie is both a family and a civil rights movie at it’s core.  We witness history through the eyes of a White House Butler.  It would have been so amazing to see history happen and policy shaped before your eyes.  But not be allowed to interject or tell anyone.  HA!  So not the job for me, I find it nearly impossible to keep my opinion to myself.  Just watching what the family and friends of the main character Cecil Gaines (played amazingly well by Forest Whitaker) was difficult to comprehend.  I just have such a difficult time imagining a life like the one they endured.  It does make me thankful for the life that I was born into.  I mean, I have it had it easy and I always have.  I’m sure that I take it for granted more often than not.

The other awesome acting job in this movie came from Oprah!  She played the wife of Cecil Gaines.  The chain smoking alcoholic wife of Cecil Gaines to boot.  And she did not phone it in, I was very impressed.  She played a loving wife and mother and an angry wife and mother equally well.

Watching the evolution of the relationship between Cecil and his oldest son was also difficult.  His son played a man fighting for civil rights.  He picked different routes than his father approved of and that caused a long separation.  However, the two were finally able to come together, finally seeing the perspective of the other.  This is easier said than done, they were both so sure of the “rightness” of their position.  And in a way, they were both right, they just needed to find the middle.

Overall, I would highly recommend seeing this movie.  Go out and see it now.  It’s part history lesson, a part that is usually overlooked or brushed over in school.  It’s an important part of our history as Americans and one that a lot of people would like to not discuss, but we can and should learn from our past.

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