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

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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

Nova Center: Gateway to a new North Side.

Anyone who has grown up in Pittsburgh has a memory of Allegheny Center Mall. Grandma worked at the Sears, Your first photo of the Easter Bunny, or that this is where you ate lunch during your elementary school trip to Buhl Planterium. As a college student at Art Institute in the late 90’s this was the way you walked to class from the student apartments. Then it only housed a wendy’s and most of it was empty. It was the mall that was forgotten. The roof leaked and it was just a building that the general public forgot or felt sorry for the way it ended up.

But the new vision for Allegheny Center mall is Nova Place. A green tech space that construction has already began on. Renovations started on the 1.2 million square foot mall and parking area to make it a tech hub that will have co-working space, incubator, fitness center and the return of some retail space and restaurants.

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Currently the “mall” houses a few big name businesses like AT&T and PNC. At this time they all have no plans on moving. They are getting new neighbors with Innovation Works moving into temporary offices this summer and more permeant ones in the fall with a lease of 12,000 square feet. They are aiming for 95% occupancy.

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At the helm of this reconstruction is Faros Properties whom already transformed the apartment building that surround the mall. When they bought them they were 50% occupied and they did some renovations, cleaned them up and they are now at 100% with a wait list occupancy.

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Mayor Bill Peduto is looking forward to the transformation to open a walkway from the North Side to the North Shore. I personally hope that is begins a transformation up to the Mexican War Streets.

As I was snapping pics of the plans the owner of Cool Beans came up and I asked him how he felt about the changes and he expressed that they had all positive talks with Faros.

“So it is going to be big for your business?”

“Yes it seems like it is going to be REALLY good for my business.” He smiled.

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“In science, a nova is an explosion in a star that creates a bright light. We’re hoping that Nova Place becomes a beacon of innovation and a catalyst for entrepreneurship in this region,” Jeremy Leventhal said for the reasoning behind the new name.

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Clearly this is the beginning of something spectacular.

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.
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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.

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Orange Cupcakes

If you have any leftover rum icing (and I’m sure there may be a little left over) you may be looking for something other than strawberry cupcakes to go with it.  Keeping with the fruity cake flavor, I whipped up a batch of orange flavored cupcakes for a confectionery twist on a Rum Screwdriver.

Orange Cupcakes

Orange Cupcakes

2 1/4 c All-Purpose Flour

1 1/2 c Sugar

3 tsp Baking Powder

1 tsp Salt

1 c Orange Juice

1/3 c Vegetable Oil

3 Eggs

Zest of 1 Small Orange

Preheat oven to 350.

Prepare cupcake pan and liners.

Combine dry ingredients using an electric mixer.

Add oil, eggs, orange juice, and orange zest.  Mix until well blended.

Spoon batter into prepared cupcake liners.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cool completely before icing.

*Note: I normally don’t add food coloring as the orange juice and orange zest offer a slight orange tint to the cupcakes.  If you want a brighter orange, you can add a few drops of orange food coloring when you add the wet ingredients to the mix.

Missy tag