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

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

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

Slow Cooker Chicken Ta-Da!

A sure sign of the Acopolypse: Snarky is cooking. I’m going to do something that I swore I’d NEVER do: I’m going to share a recipe. For a meal that I have created, by myself. I feel so dirty, and yet so empowered. Hang on to this one; a recipe that I’ve actually written is sure to become a collector’s item one day.

Chicken Ta-Da!
Some uncooked chicken breasts
Two jars of salsa, as hot as you like it.
A few jalapeños and/or green peppers
Some hot sauce
Salt and pepper
Wash the chicken and throw it into the slow cooker. Cover chicken completely with a jar of salsa. Pour half of the other jar in, just for fun, and to make it saucy (just like you, you saucy little culinary minx!!). Set aside the other half for later. Add lots of hot sauce. Slice the peppers however you want and toss ’em in. Add some salt and pepper, right from the shaker (don’t measure that crap–just add the amount that feels right).  Cook on high for four hours.  Eat the rest of the salsa with some chips while the chicken is cooking…you won’t be eating for FOUR HOURS.  Shred the chicken with a fork after it finishes cooking. Eat it on the bread that looks like a circle or over rice. Or in a salad. I don’t know, you can figure out the serving part yourself. This recipe stuff is exhausting.
JenP tag

More Than Cupcakes – Homemade Mac n’ Cheese

One of the things I’ve come to find is that folks are either good at cooking or baking, or vice-versa.  (Or maybe they just prefer one culinary art over the other?)  It’s part of the reason you have variety of chefs involved on a restaurant level – you have your head chef, sous chef, and a pastry chef to name a few.  Each one handles a specific task and brings a particular piece to the culinary puzzle.

While I realize a lot of the recipes I talk about and share (either the recipes themselves or photos) pertain to cupcakes, I’m more than just cupcakes.  I’m more than just desserts – in general.

When I was growing up, my family celebrated birthdays with not only a homemade birthday cake, but with a celebratory dinner.  My mother and grandmother would make lasagna for my sister’s birthday, southern fried chicken for my brother’s birthday, and creamy mac n’ cheese for my birthday.  (Sometimes those items would change depending on what we wanted for dinner, but I love some good homemade mac n’ cheese and would usually request it for my birthday.)

CONFESSION:  I don’t like baked mac n’ cheese because I was raised on stovetop mac n’ cheese.

Mac n' Cheese

Macaroni & Cheese

1 box Elbow Macaroni (1 lb)

5 c Water

1/4 c Butter

1/2 lb Cheese (Cubed or Shredded)

1/2 c Milk

On a stovetop, boil water in a large saucepan.

Add elbow macaroni and cook until noodles are tender.

Drain noodles and place back in saucepan.

Add butter, cheese, and milk to noodles.

Stir over low heat until cheese is melted and noodles are covered.

NOTE:  My mother and grandmother would use a brick of Velveeta to make their mac n’ cheese.  Experimenting with other cheeses since I left home, I’ve used white cheddar, gruyere, asiago, pepperjack, emmentaler, muenster, colby, camembert or dubliner.  I’ve found that harder cheeses are a little more difficult to make the mac n’ cheese creamy.  I will generally grate the cheese as finely as I can and occasionally add a little Velveeta (or just a couple slices of American cheese singles) to help bind it together and keep it creamy.

Missy tag

Brunch and Coffee Pause: Grit & Grace

About a month ago Grit & Grace started brunch on Sundays. This was a great place to stop for Brunch on our way to our first Pittsburgh Pirates game of the season.

We did make reservations over Open Table, but seating was open the entire time we were there.

We first ordered our drinks. I opted for Coffee like I do everywhere. The coffee was delish and served with cream, brown sugar and splenda. Steve was thirsty for a Mimosa. The kick: It was fresh squeezed OJ. Perfection.

We had wrestled with what to order since the night before. Scoping the menu I noticed that they had a Monte Cristo and a Farmers Breakfast. The key behind Grit & Grace is local source and so I was curious at what the Farmers Breakfast would bring. So I ordered that.

Steve ordered the Monte Cristo. They said that it was a deep fried sandwich but when we tried it all we could think was that it was a Monte Cristo sandwich with french toast  It was delicious; I only had one bite, But Steve raved about it for days.

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My Farmers Breakfast was Eggs, Pork Ham, Bacon, Home Fries, and Toast. Everything was fresh and delicious.

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As always the presentation was good and the service was amazing.

I forgot that I had one more thing to eat. We ordered the Yogurt with fresh fruit and granola. It was a great side dish.

Brunch is served on Sundays from 10:30-2PM. Perfect before a Pirates game.

amanda tag