Cinnamon Blueberry Muffins

Nothing is tastier to me this time of year than fresh berries.  I remember as a kid, helping my grandmother and great-grandmother pick fresh blueberries from Great Grandma Jones’ blueberry bushes.  Of course, it was a “one for the berry bucket, one for me” kind of thing.  But, it’s better to do that with fresh fruit than, let’s say, a bag of mini Snickers, right?

Once the berries were picked and cleaned, Grandma Stone would prepare them for her from-scratch blueberry pie.  While blueberry pie is good, it’s not as convenient to make.  You have to make a crust – two crusts for that matter since it’s a closed pie.  And, then you have to bake it for the better part of an hour.  And, then you have to cut it into slices.  Besides, if you don’t have somewhere to take it and share, you’re stuck eating a whole pie (or letting it go to waste – but, who really does that with pie?).

While I love Grandma Stone’s blueberry pie, I’ve found that blueberry muffins are a quick and easy way to get my blueberry fix.  I can also freeze them, which comes in handy when I have a couple dozen on hand.  While I enjoy your basic, run-of-the-mill blueberry muffin, I have to admit that adding some cinnamon changes the flavor profile – drastically (but, in a really good way).

Blueberry Cinnamon Muffins

Cinnamon Blueberry Muffins – Recipe

6 Tbsp Butter (Melted)

1 c Brown Sugar (Packed)

1/2 c Milk

1 Egg

1 1/2 c Flour

1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder

1 tsp Cinnamon

1/2 tsp Salt

1 1/2 c Blueberries*

– Preheat oven to 400 and prepare muffin tin (either with baking papers or lightly greased).

– Whisk butter, brown sugar, milk, and egg.

– In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

– Add the wet ingredients to the bowl of dry ingredients and fold until the batter is combined.

– Fold in blueberries.

– Pour batter into prepared muffin tin and bake approximately 15-20 minutes.  (They’re done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.)

*NOTE: I like to use fresh, organic blueberries when they’re in season.  They’re naturally sweet and not sour.  However, when off-season, I will use frozen blueberries.  I just let them thaw and rinse them vigorously before adding to the batter.

Missy tag

Woah…This BINGO.

I have heard of it for a while now, seen the pictures, and heard the rumblings of hoots over “O69″…But this BINGO was OUTrageous. Once a month the Rodef Shalom Congregation in Oakland fills with people all to host a great night for charity filled with shouts of “BINGO” and cheers from the players when asked “Who wants some MONEY?” 11377145_10153459950263787_6022503966666340938_n Tickets sell out, sometimes a month in advance, and go for $18 for 6 boards for about 10 regular play games. There are three special games and one Twitter game where they secretly give out four numbers over Twitter. The special games are the big money. There is also 50/50 raffle and As seen on TV giveaways and door prizes. 11112216_10153459949948787_6104323761479481093_n But there is the charity and why this night is important and it was solidified when this BINGO virgin had to take an oath with her BINGO marker raised in the sky. It was only a game and the point was to raise money and have fun. There is a guest caller for a game also. This night it was Hugh McGough a judge in the Oakland area who marries a lot of same sex couples, one of which was there that night. 11046343_10153459950178787_702119950189251697_n There is also a Drag Queen and Drag King Show intermission with music, dancing, and fun. OUTrageous BINGO is taking a BINGO break over the summer and will resume again in September so keep your eye to the Facebook Page for the release of tickets. And a Super Spoiler Alert: There is a OUTrageous Bingo on Halloween this year and there is costumes and treats all night long from what I hear. This girl didn’t win but I had a blast and can’t wait for fall to join in again. So as they say at OUTrageous BINGO: Now Sit Down, Shut Up, and Play Bingo! Check out OUTrageous BINGO. Facebook and Twitter. amanda tag

Quick Bite: Proper Brick Oven and Taproom

On the last day of Pride and Three Rivers Arts Festival I found myself in that scary rain storm that cleared Downtown Pittsburgh in about 15 minutes. Steve and I had an umbrella and so the fear of a lightning strike is all we had to worry about so we continued on with our Downtown Date

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Steve enjoyed a beer, a Purgatory from Helltown, and we ordered the Carnivore Pizza. It came topped with Pepperoni, sausage and bacon. All the Meats. It was delicious. We decided the best part was the garlic taste in the crust. It wasn’t bettered on and wasn’t obvious when you looked at it, but you could taste it.

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Our bill wasn’t a sticker shock either (under 30). Overall it was a great spot to wait out the storm and wait for the next T ride home.

amanda tag

Nelly and TLC and New Kids, Oh My

We’ve all had a favorite band.  Actually, we’ve all had a few favorite bands over the years.  Musical groups form and break up.  Our musical preferences evolve and change.  As a young girl, I joined the multitude of other girls – ages ten to sixteen in my love of all things New Kids on the Block.   With the variety afforded by Jordan, Jonathan, Joey, Donnie, and Danny it didn’t matter whether you were into bad boys or the boy next door.  NKOTB had it all.
When the group made their comeback in 2011 with a tour with the Backstreet Boys, the group’s fans found themselves a little bit older, but still just as in love with the group as ever.  This year’s “Main Event” tour finds fans still just as in love with America’s favorite boys from Boston.  Touring with Nelly and TLC, it was another trip down memory lane as the masses poured into Consol Arena for the show.
Nelly
Nelly opened the night.  He looks a little older than we all remember, but it was still a great set.  It was definitely a good warm-up for, well, the Main Event.
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Truthfully, I was curious to see how the TLC performance was going to go.  After the loss of Left Eye a few years ago, I wasn’t sure if/how it would be addressed.  The first thing I noticed – as did the group of friends I was with, was how amazing Chilli looks!  She doesn’t look much different than she did when the group originally toured.  And, talk about how in-shape she is!  My friend, Katie, even tweeted about how amazing Chilli looked at the show.  Overall, Chilli and T-Boz held the fort down.  Although Left Eye was not there, she was on all our minds, especially during the performance of “Waterfalls” which was a tribute the crowd became part of – both singing along and waving those magical, lighter replacement cellphones throughout the arena.
Then it was time for the Main Event.  With an audio/video introduction a la a professional sporting event, NKOTB was announced as if they were making their way to the ring for a boxing match – ring robes included.  The intro included a three-minute voice over formally announcing the “undisputed, heavyweight champions of the boy band world.”  The shrieks, screams, and general crowd clamor was a testament as to how excited everyone was for the show.  And, it certainly did not disappoint.
Thankfully, the jumbotron screen in the center of the arena reminded us all of exactly how old we are when it took us back in time to particular highlight points of the band’s musical career, including a video screen announcing the year *cough*1990*cough*.  (For those keeping record, 1990 was 25 years ago.  I was in elementary school.)  They played a variety of classic NKOTB songs, as well as some new material.  With a set full of choreography, lights, and confetti (ZOMG SO MUCH CONFETTI) we were signing and dancing along with our favorite songs.
Quick Change Cam
It was certainly a grown-up show, too.  The language coming out of those mouths at the show would have required a “Mature Language” sticker if it would have been included on on a copy of “Hangin’ Tough” back in 1988.  Add to that the sexual overtones of an open/no-shirted cover of “Sweet Dreams” and it was clear to see that the group was certainly playing to their more matured crowd.  They also included a “Quick Change Cam” that covered their mid-performance costume change.  The live view action camera – set up in what was presumably to be like a security camera placed in the corner of the dressing area under the stage, inspired all sorts of wolf whistles and cat calls.  However, my group was not as keen on that apparent intent.  We observed the spot with some head scratching and laughter at how over-the-top it was – a peek at the boys in varying states of undress, a cameo shot of a Penguins jersey to play to the Pittsburgh crowd, and even a smooch to the camera by Donnie.
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All in all, it was a great girls’ night out event among friends and a trip down memory lane as we revisited our youth.  But, I realized our youth was not as revisited as the ladies who sat in the Consol Loge seating at the end of our section – the ladies who wore what appeared to be original NKOTB t-shirts that they likely wore in Jr. High School back in the 90s.  Their dedication to the comeback tour was most certainly to be applauded.
Missy tag

Jenny Lewis-Opening Night of Three Rivers Arts Festival

On the opening night of the Three Rivers Arts Festival we were blessed with the lyrical stylings of Jenny Lewis.

Child star gone rocker her voice is as strong as an ax and her ability to play the guitar stands above all. Her set list included old songs and songs off of her newest album “Lullaby”.

If you missed her set check out the pics below and short video. Check out Three Rivers Arts Festival for the rest of the live free concerts now until Sunday.

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Quick Bite-Perry Perk

Outside

You wold never know it is there unless you walk by and notice the fountain outside. Tucked into a strip of stores sits Perry Perk a small coffee shop with breakfast and sandwiches.

I stopped in for lunch when I was working nearby. I decided on the Cranberry Twisted Turkey Sandwich. On a croissant is turkey slices and swiss cheese; topped with a mayo that is mixed with walnuts and cranberries. I thought the combo was interesting and to my delight it was delicious.

Sandwich

To drink I got a Iced Tea with a Passion Fruit sweetened syrup. It was sweet and tasty.

Looking around the shop waiting for my sandwich it was small, probably seats about fifteen people. It has free wifi and also sells homemade goods along the shelves.

They had breakfast items too and according to their YELP reviews their coffee can’t be beat. So next time you need a quick bite and your in North Hills check out Perry Perk.

Perry Perk • 1012 Perry Highway • 412-348-0079

amanda tag

Smokin Sweet Betties!

Back in Issue 10 we had the pleasure to meet the sweet ladies of the Smokin Bettie’s Burlesque. Since then they have been in high gear to produce their next show which took place on May 30th at 10PM at Club Cafe on the South Side of Pittsburgh.

To say there was a lot of high energy in the venue was un understatement, this girl is horse from cheering. The evening was hosted by the divarific Lillith DeVille. Her outstanding comedy and flair for the fun left me in stitches.

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The Betties: Lucy La Bam, Violet Corbeau, Demdare Eyes, Sueno Del Mar, Luna La Creme, Gigi Coudray and Midnight Mame all lit up the stage with new routines and new sexy costumes. From a Beetlejuice theme to Black Eye Peas to a little bit of naughty teacher was included. I could tell the ladies had practiced for months and each girl was flawless and beautiful.

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There was three special guest performers included. They were: Lita D Vargas, Penny De La Poison and Viva Valezz.

Overall the entire night was a blast and we look forward to seeing them live again.

Like them at Smokin Betties Burlesque of Facebook and follow them @smokinbetties for updates on their next show.

amanda tag