Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Panini Heaven.

Did I ever have a favorite panini before? Probably not...well anyway, here is my new favorite panini. Thanks Dad for the panini maker!!
I started off with Trader Joe's Soft Multigrain Bread. I spread on some homemade peach jam from Andy's parents, followed by TJ's 55% reduced fat Celtic Sharp Cheddar (which is so good you'd never realize it's reduced fat). Then I added a sliced pink lady apple and some baby spinach. Looking good so far!

This is after the initial press...the panini press is so sturdy and heavy that it smooshed it into panini goodness instantly!

YUM. After a few minutes it got toasty and the cheese was oozing!

The finished product! I loved how melty and tasty the cheese was, and who doesn't love a nice cheddar apple combo? The apples were warm but still crispy, and the jam added a nice sweet touch!

Try this panini!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Menu

Every year, Lee creates a beautiful, unique menu for Christmas dinner (and then proceeds to cook it all by himself!!). So other than family, friends, and general holiday cheer, here's what's on the menu for dinner tomorrow!

Christmas Dinner 2010
Gorgonzola Spinach Artichoke Dip

Smoked Trout Spread

Beet and Tangerine Salad

Roast Pork with Cranberry Stuffing

Cedar Planked Salmon with Maple Glaze

Mashed Root Vegetables

Lemony Green Beans with Walnuts and Thyme

Cauliflower-Goat Cheese Gratin
Ravioli with Herbed Walnut Sauce

Homemade Rolls
Charlotte Russe with Raspberries
Pear Bundt Cake
Needless to say, I can't wait!! I'll be impatiently salivating until about 4PM tomorrow. If you're traveling today, stay safe!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

New Beer Tuesday

I don't know why I've been writing New Beer Tuesdays on Wednesdays lately, but just roll with it.
I bought this New Glarus Raspberry Tart not knowing what I was in store for. Thinking it would be similar to Dogfish Head's Fort, I picked it up for Andy's and my "Christmas" last night.

What a treat! This was so delicious that I had to stop myself from gulping it down. It was not like DFH Fort at all though, which was fine. I think the Fort had 18% alcohol, and this only had 4%. The taste was perfectly tart with just a tiny hint of sweetness. Delicious raspberry goodness. There were so many tiny little bubbles that it was like drinking champagne! I'm thinking of getting some for New Year's to share at midnight. Ignore the dried corn flake on my counter...and the pile of dishes. At least they're clean!
Beer Advocate gives it an average of an A. Cool! I really could drink this all night. It wasn't filling at all and was just so tasty. If you see this, buy it!  

Our "Christmas" was lots of fun, but slightly tainted by AAA losing my car that I sold yesterday. Long, terrible story. Santa even came to my little apartment! I asked Andy to move the presents under the tree while I was taking a picture, and he said, "I did." 
Yeah, okay.

The flashless picture makes it look like I have yellow walls...

After our presents, beer, and dozens of phone calls to AAA, the towing company, and the police, we head to House of 1000 Beers where I...
drank my 16th draft!! I got an awesome shirt, and I'm wearing it proudly today! Only nine more 'til I get my name on the wall! Now that I have my shirt, if I wear it during the weekend, I get a dollar off drafts. Pretty sweet!

Soon I'll be posting Lee's AMAZING menu for Christmas dinner...stay tuned!

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Super Easy Dinner.

Quick! Someone (Andy) is coming over at the last minute (I've known for days) and you need to make a fast and easy dinner!
First...run cold water over the frozen Trader Joe's marinated tuna that you should have put in the fridge hours ago to thaw. Poke and prod until they feel unfrozen. Bake until they look good!

Steam two TJ's green chili and cheese tamales on your grody stove. TJ's is really helping you out at this point.
Use your steam basket from your rice cooker that doesn't fit on your small sauce pan but you make it work anyway.

Broil two peppers in your grody oven. Curse your landlord, and cry over how much you miss your gas stove that roasted peppers beautifully.
Check the oven every two to three seconds because you're pretty sure the years of grime is going to ignite any second. 

Put roasted peppers in a pie pan (very important) and cover in plastic wrap...and a paper towel since you didn't get out enough plastic wrap. Worry that you're ruining the world and your health by using plastic wrap. Remember that you are exposed to hazardous industrial chemicals on a daily basis and move on.

Peel black flaky stuff off of the peppers, chop up the peppers and an avocado, and mix with a couple squirts of lime juice, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Taste it and be very, very surprised that it actually tastes good.

Remove corn husks from tamales, burn yourself from the steam, try the tuna and approve, but wish you were put together enough to buy and cook fresh tuna.

Eat, enjoy, and hope your dinner guest comes back next weekend!
Each of these steps are VERY important, so remember them next time you're in a dinner pinch!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

New Beer Tuesday

First of all, it's definitely almost Christmas! My tree has been warming up my living room for the past few days, and I absolutely love it. Thanks to Andy for being an awesome ornament/garland hanger.

The tree topper is a little beaded bird. The skirt is a silk button-down shirt that I bought at Goodwill and never wore.

This week, my new beer to try was Harpoon Island Creek Oyster Stout.
I was pretty nervous to try this! I like oysters, and I like stout, but would I like them together?
I loved the bottle. I thought the gold foil was neat, and I liked the antique-ish, classic look to the label. The foil is now a hat for my butternut squash. 

 Andy and I drink our shared beers out of wine glasses :) I only have one real beer glass, and this is more fun anyway!
So, this gets an average of B+ on Beer Advocate. I love reading the reviews...some people are SO descriptive and can seriously write three full, wordy paragraphs on one beer! To the people who said they caught hints of "brininess": you're crazy! I definitely didn't get any oyster taste at all. Maybe each batch is slightly different, and maybe my senses aren't that sensitive. I really liked this beer though. It was easy to drink, slightly chocolaty...although something which I wouldn't spend $10 per pint on a regular basis.
 We drank this when it was very cold, and that might not have been the best idea. Maybe if it was warmer we could have tasted more of the oysters. I would also really like to try this on tap. I think it would give it a different flavor.

Well, have you tried this beer? Let me know, and tell me your thoughts!


Monday, December 13, 2010

Good Brother Earl at Club Cafe

Last weekend, a few of us headed to Club Cafe in the south side for a Good Brother Earl concert. Before we left for the concert, we had dinner at Mad Mex! This was definitely the best dinner I've had there so far...not that it's ever not good, this was just extra tasty. I realize this picture is crappy and slightly unappetizing, but this black bean quesadilla was ridiculous. If you've ever had their black bean dip, you'll understand. They also added pineapple and cheese. Sound funky? You just have to trust me.

We took a cab to the south side since there were six of us. It ended up being a really good idea...parking in the south side is always horrible. This was my first time at Club Cafe. We waited in line until the show started and got really great seats!

The inside was very cozy with little tables and chairs. It wasn't crowded to the point of it being annoying, and it seemed like almost everyone had a seat.

 A waitress took our orders, which I really liked. It was so nice to be able to sit, relax, and watch the band. A lot different than if we would have been able to get Girl Talk tickets :)

The concert was great. They played for about an hour...mostly their own songs with a couple of covers.

If you haven't heard them yet, you should definitely check them out...especially if you live in the Pittsburgh area. They play pretty often at lots of different places in the area.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Pittsburgh Food Blogger Dinner

Last night, I was lucky enough to meet a bunch of other Pittsburgh food bloggers at Dozen Bake Shop in Lawrenceville. I think there were 14 people there, but I may be wrong. Dozen served us an excellent Christmas dinner! This was my first time at Dozen, and I'm looking forward to trying their two other locations as well. It was such a nice, warm and cozy atmosphere.

They are obviously known for their baked goods (the words bake shop help), but according to the chalkboard, they have quite a selection of lunch and dinner foods as well. Some of the bloggers also mentioned that their brunch is excellent.
After talking and meeting people for a few minutes, we were told what our three delicious courses would be.

Our first course - deeelicious creamy butternut soup. It's like they sprinkled Christmas on the soup or something...it smelled like cinnamon and ginger goodness.

Mike generously shared growlers with all of us. This is East End Snow Melt. I've tried this a couple of times before, and it is definitely a great winter beer. It's rich, warm, and pretty strong. Yum!

He also brought over Church Brew Works Christmas Beer. I don't have any specifics on the beer, as my computer doesn't like their website for some reason...but it was great!

And then the second course - beautiful! A homemade roll, roasted brussel sprouts with carrots and cranberry, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, tempeh (turkey for the meat lovahs), and stuffing made with rye bread. It was so fabulous, and I ate every bite.

Dessert! I chose the apple crisp made with local apples and homemade whipped cream. Heavenly. It was so warm and perfectly spiced. The crumbly topping was amazing too. The other dessert was pumpkin pie, which also looked great.

Before we left, they gave us all cupcakes to go...how sweet! :)

I had a really great time, and it was so nice to meet other bloggers.
Such as...
Greg and Eileen from Starving Kitten
Lauren from Burghilicious 
Leah from Sweet Rehab
Andrea from Storming Your Castle
Unfortunately I didn't get the names/blog names of everyone at the other tables :( but hopefully I'll meet the rest of you at future meetups!
Thanks again everyone, and thanks to Mike for organizing everything (and for the beer!), and Dozen for the delicious dinner.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

As usual, my weekend was fun and relaxing.
I started off the weekend by meeting Kat at the Sharp Edge for happy hour. Their specials are half priced Belgian drafts and $1 off craft drafts.
I had an Over the Edge, which is their IPA...made in Belgium and then shipped to their five restaurants.

The bleu cheese and Horseradish stuffed portobello looked amazing, but I already ate :(

I also had a Victory Yakima Glory. I loved it!! It's their winter seasonal beer.

On Saturday, Andy and I drove to Station Square and rode the Monongahela Incline to Mt. Washington. I had embarrassingly never been before, but my first ride on the incline was great!

The view is fabulous!

Andy standing on the edge of a steep slope. I wasn't nervous or anything...

After walking around Mt. Washington for a while, we headed back down to Station Square. We walked to Bar Louie. I realize it's a big chain, but I've always really liked it. There's another location at the Waterfront, which is where my coworkers and I went after work quite often when I worked down there.
I had the most amazing Bloody Mary with Tangueray. They added celery, lemon, lime, a bleu cheese stuffed olive, a pickle, salami, a pepperoncini, and a piece of provolone. FINALLY! A Bloody Mary in Pittsburgh that is properly garnished! I was in love. The one I had at Piper's Pub was nicely garnished too, but this totally wins.

This Bar Louie was huge. The area we were sitting in was gigantic, but there was a hallway that connected to the other side of the restaurant that was the same size. Huge!

We weren't done with our views of the city, so Andy and I drove to the West End overlook. It was ridiculously cold and windy, but it gave us another fantastic view of the city! If you google "West End overlook" you'll get much better pictures than mine :)
Literally adjacent to the park was a little house for rent. In its backyard was a large elevated deck, which would have gave this same view. Could you imagine seeing this every day? Could you imagine the parties??! If I wasn't in the middle of a lease, I'd be all over that.

If you're looking for a fun, inexpensive way to spend your day in Pittsburgh, definitely check these places out!

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Unofficial Slightly Wussy Mechanicsburg Beer Tour

Before I start with the exhilarating details of my sister's and my excellent Central PA beer adventures, I'd like to present to you...
Sunny! My new car! My head gasket blew on my old car :(, and after a couple carless weeks, I have an awesome, beautiful, clean, zippy car.

I would also like to squeeze in an awesome breakfast that my mom and I had (sorry that you weren't there Em!!).
We headed to Ressler's Bagels for delicious bagels and lox spread. Usually we go for the lox and cream cheese separately, but this spread was JUST as good and had large yummy pieces of smoked salmon throughout!  

So, Emily and I began our little tour at Tröegs in Harrisburg. They give tours on Saturdays, but we skipped the tour and just sampled the beers in the tasting room.

It was super busy, but we still had fun! At first we ordered four sample glasses (about 4-6 oz? for $1 each), but the guy ended up giving us six...all for free! Maybe we were looking extra cute or something :)

Emily showed off the cooler while we waited...I really wanted to have some of the Java Head Stout, but they didn't have it on tap :(

 A Mad Elf cardboard cutout. Mad Elf is their winter beer...pure cherry alcohol deliciousness.

 We each sampled a Dreamweaver (a Hefeweizen), Mad Elf, and their Scratch #37.
Tröegs is always brewing very small batches of an experimental beer. They have it there available for tasting and in cases and six packs, but when it's gone, it's gone. Scratch #37 was listed as an IPA on their website, but to me it seemed more like an Imperial IPA.

 We were happy!

You can also buy a taster rack for $7, which is just one of each beer they have on tap. It was so packed in there, so these people (we were too) were standing up the whole time and resting their trays on a short wall. The crowd eventually thinned out, and we were able to sit at a table.

Emily's fiance Brian met us and ordered a sampler tray. This is the Pale Ale...I think!

Our next stop was ABC in Camp Hill. I had (Emily stole a lot of it) a Grinnin' Grizzly. It used to be called Hibernation Ale, and this is the first time I've ever had it. This kind of reminds me of what a pumpkin beer would taste like without the pumpkin flavoring. It has an awesome flavor of spices, but it's not too much. And with a relatively low alcohol content, it's something I could easily drink all night.

Here is a map of all of their beers. A good amount of these are monthly specials. Two of my favorites are the Broad Street Barley Wine and the Jolly Scot Scottish Ale.

They also make Ginger Beer and Root Beer, which are also absolutely fantastic.

We sat in the dining room area, and they also have a nice bar area with tables.
Their original location is in Harrisburg, which is a lot bigger and has two stories. Their third location is in Gettysburg, but I haven't been there yet.

Emily and I ordered the artichoke and crab dip. Very tasty! It was so rich though, that the two of us couldn't finish it. I was glad it came with celery and carrots too...it gave it the illusion of being slightly healthy.

Our last stop was at Al's of Hampden. They were pretty crowded, but luckily we found a table for two! Emily and I split an East End Black Strap (we sound lame, but I was driving!), which is a delicious stout. The East End Brewery is only a couple miles from my old apartment in Friendship.

When we got back to my dad's house, Emily, my mom, and I ordered Chinese delivery. (Thanks Dad and Lee for letting us hang out :) ) Spring rolls...awesome, shrimp lo mein...awesome, but the General Tso's tofu...AMAZING!! Usually GT's tofu is a bunch of pieces of tofu and maybe a couple pieces of broccoli, but the Happy Garden wins with tons of veggies, and large delicious pieces of tofu.

The morning that I left to drive back to Pittsburgh, my mom and I had breakfast at the Middlesex Diner. They always have awesome breakfast. I got blueberry baked oatmeal (which I drowned in milk), and my mom went with a scrambler of eggs, potatoes, and veggies. They were both super!! 
Thanks mom for always taking us out to breakfast :)

I'll leave you with a picture of Maggie and her favorite activity. She's just too cute.