Monday, August 31, 2009


Today was a long day. SP was off of work because we both had doctor appointments in Oakland. We set off around 10:45 am and were happy that there was not a lot of Parkway West traffic. First up: SP's 11:40 am doctor appointment. After we finished with that doctor, we had a quick lunch break -- we packed lunch and bottled water along with books and magazines because we knew were going to be at various UPMC offices all day!!!

Next up: SP's 1:30 pm appointment, which amazingly happened on time and was quick. Then we had to waste an hour until my 3 pm appointment, which was not on time and we had to amuse ourselves with more reading in the waiting room. Waiting. And waiting. For half an hour. Grrrr.

After that appointment, there was much confusion over where I was supposed to go for my last test (and by that I mean 4 sources told us 4 different places) but finally it was sorted out and around 4:45 pm we were out of UPMC - YAY! Nearly 6 hours wandering and waiting in Falk, Presby, and Montefiore on such a beautiful and sunny day was not fun!

Unfortunately, we hit evening traffic on our way to a friend's house (so that SP could try to heal her ailing computer). It took him much longer than we expected, and there's still work to be done.

At that point, it was 7 pm. We were tired. We were hungry. Who wants to go home and start cooking after a day like that? Not us. We decided to stop at DiBella's Old Fashioned Submarines to grab dinner. SP ran in and got our subs, we hurried home, fed the cats, and fed ourselves. It was a feeding frenzy. A total snarf-fest.

SP devoured a spicy ham sub with hot/banana peppers and spicy mustard:
I had a cheesesteak:Yum.

Blue Horse Coffee & Burgers

Sunday, SP & I had to return to Panera to collect a bag that got left behind Saturday night. After picking up the bag, we decided to go across the street to Blue Horse Coffee for a treat and to check out the new restaurant next door to Blue Horse.

The new restaurant is called Pazzo and it replaces Linguini's, which we ate at once and enjoyed and then a few weeks later discovered it closed. Linguini's has re-opened as Pazzo and it opens at 4 pm on Sunday, so we didn't get to poke our heads inside -- we just peered through the windows but we didn't see much!!

We moved on to Blue Horse Coffee, a coffee house in Mt. Lebanon on Route 19 next to the BP across from The Galleria. According to some polls, they are voted the 'best coffeehouse' in Pittsburgh. They serve Capogiro Gelato, which is rated one of the ten best ice cream shops in the USA by Bon Appetit. Of course we each had to get a small serving! SP chose coconut. I chose Mexican Coffee (coffee & kahlua) after sampling both that flavor and Cappuccino Stracciatella (coffee gelato with chocolate couverature).

I also got a small decaf latte and SP got iced tea. I had a pretty design on my latte - I almost didn't want to drink it!!!We both enjoyed our gelatos. So rich and flavorful and creamy. Yum!!

Dinner on Sunday was burgers. Beef burger for me, turkey burger for SP. He added some jalapeno to his ground turkey when he made the burgers. We tried to enjoy the fall-like weather out on the deck, but it was breezy in just the right direction that no matter what we did, the grill would not stay lit and would not heat up. SP managed to get some onions and flying saucer squash cooked enough on the grill: But we were forced to cook our burgers inside on my little, 9 years old George Foreman grill, which probably hadn't been used in 5 or 6 years!!It worked pretty well although our burgers came out a bit blacker on the top & bottom than we would have liked. That may be less the fault of the grill and more the fault of 2 people who kept wandering off to get other parts of the meal ready and didn't pay too much attention to how long the burgers had actually been cooking!!! Plus, we really had no idea how long to cook them on the Foreman grill.

We sliced some cheeses, avocado, and heirloom tomato; got out the leftover BBQ sauce and salsa verde; and cooked turkey bacon to add to our burgers.

SP's burger:

My burger:
The burgers were tasty but messy!!!

Inglourious Basterds & Panera

Friday evening, SP went out with some friends, so I was home alone. I had some lasagna we found lurking in the back of the freezer for dinner - nothing too exciting. Dessert was hot orange spice tea and madeleines while I watched Duplicity, which was a good movie. Lots of fun trying to figure out which character was conning which character!

Saturday we decided to go see a movie. We decided on Inglourious Basterds. We thought it was great!!! We laughed a lot, and were appropriately grossed out at times, and enjoyed the almost 2 and a half hours long movie.

After the movie we were hungry and wanted food as soon as possible so we decided to eat at The Galleria instead of driving somewhere else to find food. The options at The Galleria were Bravo, Mitchell's Fish Market, Houlihan's, Amigos, Mark Pi's, and Panera. As usual, Bravo had a long wait. I don't get very excited about Mitchell's plus we frequently eat there with SP's family for family birthday dinners and there was a wait. I don't like Houlihan's as much since they updated/changed themselves. Mexican is not a favorite of mine and the menu didn't look too exciting. I am always wary of trying new (to me) Chinese places since sometimes Chinese upsets my stomach. That left Panera.

So we went to Panera. SP ordered the black bean soup, turkey-spinach panini, and iced tea.

I had the tomato & mozzarella panini and a decaf latte.
A decent, inexpensive meal! Sometimes a meal at Panera is yummier, more filling, and more satisfying than a more expensive meal at a 'sit down and order from a server' place.

When we got home, we changed into our 'comfy clothes' and watched the last 2 episodes of True Blood on Disc 4. Hopefully, we'll get Disc 5 this week and can finish season 1.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

CSA Week #20 (and tilapia dinner)

Tuesday brought more CSA goodies: lettuce mix, basil, heirloom tomatoes, watermelon, flying saucer squash, carrots, another giant onion, sweet frying pepper medley, shallots, garlic, and zucchini.

Here's the flying saucer squash:For dinner, we made a salad, rice for me and quinoa for SP, and tilapia topped with pecorino romano, lemon, and thyme. Yum!

After dinner, we tried some CSA watermelon. I picked all the little white seeds out but SP ate his seeds. It was tasty!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Tacos & Homemade Salsa Verde

Once again, it was taco night. This time, SP made salsa verde using the garlic, jalapenos, onion, and tomatillos from last week's CSA box. Here's his veggies washed and ready for the grill:Here they are on the grill, filling the air with delicious aromas:SP also grilled a tomato but didn't put it in his salsa.

While the salsa verde ingredients were grilling, he made each of us a cocktail. For himself, a margarita in a martini glass, no salt! For me, a mix of lemon simple syrup, lemon juice, triple sec, and vanilla vodka - it was an interesting combination and tasted good but it wasn't one of my favorites; I prefer the 'orange thing' he usually makes but we didn't have oranges!
I sat in the sun room, reading a magazine and sipping my martini while I listened to SP chop veggies and blend his salsa verde in the food processor. In addition to the grilled ingredients, he added dried cilantro and lime.He also cooked and seasoned the taco meats. As usual, ground turkey for him and ground beef for me. As usual, he raided the spice rack for his meat seasonings:I opted for a boring, pre-made, and not very spicy seasoning:For taco stuffing ingredients, we had bowls of grilled tomato, chopped heirloom tomato, diced avocado, shredded cheddar, shredded jack-colby, black olives, sour cream, cucumber, lettuce, and a bottle of mild taco sauce.And as usual, I couldn't make a proper taco - I ended up with everything cut up and mixed together on my plate, a kind of crazy taco salad, while SP managed to make cute, neat, proper tacos.A delicious dinner but lots of clean up with the food processor, 2 skillets, all those little bowls, spoons, knives, colanders, cutting board... Sometimes what seems like a simple, quick, easy meal - like tacos - turns into a meal with lots of prep and clean up for us!!

A special thanks to SP who not only did all the cooking and prep work but also took all the photos.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Bistro 19

Last night, SP & I ate at one of our favorite places in Pittsburgh: Bistro 19. It's in Mt. Lebanon on Washington Rd. (also called Route 19). This was our third visit and it did not disappoint.

We started off by each ordering a glass of wine. For me, the featured wine of the day: Clay Station Viognier. It was wonderful. Viognier is quickly becoming a favorite of mine, maybe even better than sauvignon blanc. SP ordered a glass of Rudolf Muller Riesling - he likes rieslings a lot. I thought it was a good riesling, but I much preferred the viognier.

Appetizers. We have never had a bad appetizer at Bistro 19. Last night we opted to share the Lemon Pepper Calimari with Citrus Caper Remoulade.

These were so darn tasty! The breading was light, not heavy, and they weren't greasy. The remoulade was very good - and a nice change from the usual marinara or mustard type dipping sauce. I could have eaten the entire plate myself while SP was enjoying his Shiitake Noodle Soup, but I called upon my willpower to save half the calamari for him. Actually, I turned to the bread plate to distract me from eating more than my fair share of the calamari!!

SP's soup. It was the Soup of the Day, a shiitake-rice noodle soup. He said it was very good - lots of shiitake and noodles.The bread plate:A piece of brown bread with sesame seeds on the crust plus 2 pieces of a crunchy crusty white bread. The butter was very smooth and easily spreadable and looked like an herb had been mixed in - chives, perhaps? I rarely put butter on my bread, I prefer plain bread, but I put the tiniest bit of butter on last night. Unfortunately, it was too tiny to identify the herb!! SP agrees that it was probably chives.

Our entrees. I always get the same entree!!! It is so delicious: Black Tiger Shrimp stuffed with artichoke & spinach, roasted tomato parmesan cream, risotto, and wilted spinach. Oh my gosh. This dish is so good. There are 4 large shrimp stuffed with a delicious, creamy artichoke & spinach mixture. The risotto is wonderfully creamy and cheesy. The roasted tomato sauce is a delicious sauce into which I dipped each forkful of food. So good.

A side story: SP and I were very much entertained throughout the evening by the two couples at the table next to us. They were older couples, probably in their late 60's, and the women were very made up and sporting lots of large (gaudy, to me) jewelry while the men sported Hawaiian shirts and penny loafers with no socks. One of them ordered the Black Tiger Shrimp and all 4 of them were a bit baffled by the risotto. They wondered aloud for a few minutes if it was rice, or maybe potato, or maybe both, or was it something else...??? It really surprised us that people dining at this upscale bistro and in this day of Food Network TV and celebrity chefs seemingly everywhere that they would not know what risotto is... but maybe SP & I are just too interested in food and take a dish like risotto as a 'normal' food, not something unusual. They also seemed surprised by the strawberry sundae they ordered when it appeared on the table - as if it was an odd, unusual, strange sundae from a foreign land. Granted, it didn't look like a Dairy Queen sundae, but...

SP usually orders the duck, but last night he chose the special of the day: halibut. It came with rice and green beans. It was glazed with a soy sauce reduction mixture and there was a pineapple--mandarin orange-onion salsa on top, plus a long, thin chive across the plate. He said it was delicious.We ate every morsel on our plates.

Dessert time. I really couldn't decide last night. Not all the desserts listed on the online dessert menu were on last night's dessert menu. I don't enjoy banana desserts, so the Bananas Foster Napoleon was out. I wasn't in the mood for the cheesecake or strawberry sundae. The raspberry cabernet sorbet sounded good, but I wasn't sure I wanted that cold of a dessert. Plus, there was a dessert called Chocolate Tower. I was pretty sure it was going to be too rich for my taste, but the 'cookie dough mousse' sounded intriguing. Finally, after much debate, we decided to share the Chocolate Tower because we were just too curious about the cookie dough mousse! We also ordered iced tea for SP and decaf coffee for me.Oh my goodness. The Chocolate Tower -- a round bottom layer of very dense and rich chocolate brownie. The brownie was topped with the cookie dough mousse. The whole concoction was enveloped in a dark chocolatey ganache. On top of that, topping the tower, were caramel sauce and pecans. There was a dollop of whipped cream with a spring of mint plus 2 raspberries off to the side plus chocolate sauce and caramel drizzles on the plate.It was tasty, but no way could I have eaten this myself. We each had trouble eating our half! It was rich enough for us that even just a quarter of it would have satisfied our dessert craving. The cookie dough mousse was tasty, but there were so many little chocolate chips in the mousse that there wasn't really a dough-like taste or mousse-like texture to the cookie dough mousse.

We highly recommend Bistro 19. The hostess is always very friendly and helpful. Our servers have always been knowledgeable and always willing to check with the chef on the garlic for me and the gluten for SP (when he thought he had celiac disease). We never feel rushed. Usually, we sit by the window, which is nice, and they have these terrific blinds that block the strong sunlight but also still allow you to see the action out on Washington Rd. There's a couple outdoor tables. A terrific meal.

Friday, August 21, 2009

CSA Eggplant

As usual, we've been eating leftovers for dinner during the week and only 'cooking' vegetables in the evenings. We've been alternating between the BBQ ribs and turkey breast with either leftover potatoes or croissant. For our veggie, we've been eating the CSA goodies. One night, we steamed the green beans and broccoli. Last night, SP had some corn and we ate the eggplant. This was eggplant #2 this week. The first one was purchased at Giant Eagle and grilled. It was just OK, kind of tough tasting to me. Last night we planned to grill the CSA eggplant and corn, but there's was lots of lightning and thunder, so we cooked them inside.

We put the eggplant rounds on a foil lined cookie sheet, brushed them with a bit of olive oil, and then brushed on some of the 'Sun Dried Tomato Marinade' we bought in GA. We put them in the oven at 350 (which is the temperature I had it set at for re-heating the ribs). It didn't take long to cook the eggplant. This eggplant was much tastier than the other eggplant this week. I like the tomato marinade, but it's not as tasty as the one I bought in 2008 on vacation in VA at Wintergreen Resort near Charlottesville.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

CSA Week #19 - Giant Onion!!

This week's goodies: eggs, peaches. corn, jalapenos, tomatillos, eggplant, onion, broccoli, heirloom tomatoes, and green beans.

An injured peach - it was still juicy and yummy:The biggest onion I think I've ever seen:

PittGirl News

PittGirl & The Burgh Blog are back - sort of. The big news is that she outed herself and started a new blog called That's Church under her real name (Virginia Montanez). I am sad she felt the need to reveal her true identity - I liked not knowing who she really is - but I understand why she made the decision to do so. For more, check out today's post 'Doors'. I'm glad she's back and am looking forward to her special brand of snark and take on all things Pittsburgh.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Turkey with Mushroom-Tarragon Gravy

A couple of weeks ago, one of the grocery stores had turkey breasts on sale for $0.99/lb, I think. SP decided to check them out. He found one that was labeled $1.98 but did not have a weight on the label. It was bigger then 2 lbs. He bought it - I guess we got lucky and found a mis-marked turkey. We estimate it was a 5-6 lb turkey breast.

In an ongoing effort to try to eat food in the freezer (yes, the refrigerator is still moaning like a monster and no, we haven't found a solution to the small space issue yet and yes, we fear it conking out before we resolve the small space issue) we decided to thaw and cook the turkey last night.

Our oven seems to cook meats like this faster than we expect. We estimated the weight of the turkey and then estimated the cooking time. Our best guess was to cook it at 325 for 1.5-2 hours. Of course we have a meat thermometer, but we were trying to figure out when to put the turkey in the oven so it would be nice and hot and juicy when SP got home from work. Since SP's return home from work time can vary by about a half an hour depending on how busy work is and how horrible traffic is, I debated and debated and finally decided to put it in around 5:30. SP got home around 7 but unfortunately, the turkey was only registering 140 on the thermometer. We wanted it to hit 170, which it finally did around 7:30. Here's some photos of the cooked turkey:While the turkey continued to cook, we ate our tomato-mozzarella salad and croissant. This was more of the 'eat existing food' approach. We had fresh mozzarella leftover from last week's pasta/stuffed banana pepper so I sliced 2 tomatoes, sliced the mozzarella, added some fresh basil from our basil plant, and drizzled it all with balsamic syrup.The croissant - well, we still had 2 in the freezer. We thawed the croissants and split one for dinner. We have one left for later in the week. We each used our half croissant to mop up the balsamic and tomato juices left on our plates. Yum!While the turkey rested, SP made the gravy. This is from a recipe we found in the paperback Costco cookbook. Basically, you take the turkey pan drippings and add cider vinegar, tarragon, and mushrooms to make a gravy. You can add cornstarch to thicken it, but we don't. It's very tasty - the tarragon adds a very nice flavor and we love mushrooms in gravy.For dessert we finished the Kennywood fudge while watching more True Blood. Not too exciting of a dessert, but we decided to try to have small desserts or no dessert this week since we've been eating a lot. Of course, I know there's a container of Starbucks coffee ice cream in the freezer. It was on sale (again) and we had a coupon (again) but I plan to have just one scoop at a time. A small scoop.