Saturday, December 14, 2013

Winter Wonderland

It was quite the winter wonderland today in Pittsburgh. Snow, snow - and then rain, which was not so wonderlandy. But regardless - it was a great Saturday to get a workout in, and then stay home and relax.

I also decided that I need to start writing my New Years Resolutions now. I know it's corny and often overlooked - but I think it's important to have goals, something to strive for. Today I'm going to start with two:

1. Learn how to iron - yes, it's true, I don't know how to iron.

2. Learn the in's and out's of my digital SLR. Above is a photo that I took with my Panasonic Lumix DMC- GF2 - a camera I bought to take good photographs. It essentially just sits and collects dust - or is used in iAuto (aka - iLazy and never learned how to manually use my camera). I want a new camera - but for now I'll use this one because I have other financial goals that lay ahead of a new DSLR - which will be addressed in other New Years Resolutions.

I'll continue to add to the list here and there so that by the end of 2013 - I'll be ready for the beginning of 2014.

xo, cheers, namaste.


Saturday, December 7, 2013

a.k.a. MK

It came, it came, it came! My new purse came this week. Super exciting...Oh Zara how I love thee...

Why are you not in Pittsburgh? My friends in New York, DC and Philly know my trip is not complete without a trip to Zara. Plus it is one of the most brilliant retail stores out there. 

I bought this purse in a luggage color while I was in NYC - and I'm 100% obsessed with it. I looked online and I saw the purse in a deep eggplant purple, and black - but I waited a bit too long to get the deep purple - so I settled for getting a second bag in black. Classic. Think I'll wear it today :-)

Oh, and just for fun...I started a Tumblr - well, restarted....a.k.a. MK. It's not a whole lot different than Pinterest...but, eh - something else to explore.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Restaurant Review: Butcher and the Rye

As mentioned in my obligatory thanksgiving post, we had gone to one of the newest restaurants in Pittsburgh, Butcher and the Rye (the sister restaurant to Meat and Potatoes) the Friday after Thanksgiving. Here is my review as seen on Yelp:


I gave this joint two shots...two...

Three things I love - going to restaurants, trying new things, and my birthday. So when planning my birthday dinner and discovering that this place was opening that weekend, I thought, perfect - three of my favorite things!  Now, mind you, this is probably two weeks out from my birthday dinner. So i find the number, give them a call, and I reach a recording where I was unable to leave a message. Fine. So I call Meat and Potatoes, their sister restaurant, and I speak with the hostess there who tells me that Butcher and the Rye isn't taking reservations for the first two weeks that they are open. Fine. So I contact my dinner guests, they are fine with winging it without a reservation. We figured we'd go on the early side as we anticipate a bit of a wait.

We arrive at 7:30 on the first Saturday they are open, get to the host stand, and they asked us if we had a reservation. Excuse me? "I was told you weren't taking reservations for the first two weeks." Response: "Well, on Tuesday of this week we got so many requests for reservations we had to start taking them." Really? "We can have a table for you at 1045." Again, really?

So we decided to have a drink there and call some other places to get a table for dinner. We sat at the bar upstairs, while three or four tables behind us were empty with reservation signs on them. There were only two small groups of people at the bar including us, and I had to flag one of the two bartenders down to get their attention to my empty drink that had been sitting on the bar for at least five minutes.

We were there for about 45 minutes, and when we left there was still one open table that could have seated us. Now, having worked at restaurants for most of my late teens and early twenties I understand that you have to make room for reservations, but restaurants should also know how to turn tables quickly to accommodate walk ins (there were only three of us!).

Long story short, I decided to chalk it up to management needing to fine tune some things after the first weekend. Needing a place for dinner for the Friday after Thanksgiving, I decided to give them another shot. I made a reservation for eight, tried to bump it up to nine, but they said the most people they could accommodate at one table was eight. Fine.

When we got there, they asked us if we had reservation before we even entered the door. Yes. Then we got to the host stand - they asked us again if we had a reservation.  Yes, but it's down to seven - someone bailed last minute. The hostess did a bit of scurrying, asking probably a manger if we could still have the table they had for us with only seven. That person said yes. Then they said that two guests had arrived and were at the bar. We go see them, and our two guests were the ones that said our table was ready, the hostess didn't let us know even though we had walked right by the room with our table.

They had us in the front room with the big picnic table and the floor to ceiling window. The table and room could have comfortably accommodated ten people, but my request for nine was denied. And it was freezing. I couldn't take my coat off the entire dinner. Pretty dismal.

The food was...meh. We ordered lots of apps to share and it was quite comical because one person did the ordering, and all the food was served to her, despite it being quite obvious that all these dishes had been ordered was for the table and not just for her. Drinks took awhile to come, but the servers and food runners were very they had that going for them...

Needless to say, disappointed. Great atmosphere, cool because it's new, but probably wouldn't hit it up as dinner spot again any time soon."

womp, womp...

 xo, cheers, namaste,


Monday, December 2, 2013

The Obligatory Thanksgiving Post

Thanksgiving is always a weeklong event - inspired by food, friends and usually lots and lots of wine:

This Thanksgiving week began with a trip to Thai Suan Thip, just another stop on my Tour de Thai Pittsburgh. Here is my review that I posted on Yelp:

"Small, quaint and cozy - this restaurant has a very homey, comfortable feel to it. It was a great spot to find peace on a snowy, slushy, rainy and cold winters evening.

The Tom Yum lemongrass soup was soothing and spicy, I ordered mine at a four, and while I'm a big fan of spice, the soup would have been better for me at a two or three. For my entree I ordered my staple dish at a Thai restaurant - Pumpkin Curry. The flavors of this dish were awesome and the spice level four worked well as I was able to cut the hot and spicy with the rice. The only dish I was slightly disappointed with was an appetizer of pineapple fried tofu. The description on the menu was deceiving, I thought the pineapple would play a roll in the actual fried tofu - instead we were served some bland fried tofu pieces with a pineapple dipping sauce. The sauce was tasty, but the appetizer as a

The service was...okay. Luckily I was out for a leisurely dinner and wasn't in any hurry as there there was only one person working the floor.  Though the restaurant is relatively small, there were quite a few people out dining for a Tuesday night. Plus with the place being a BYOB, having my own bottle of wine at the table eased any neediness from servers. Food came out slowly, but as I mentioned before, I wasn't in any hurry and it was a nice easy tempo for a relaxing dinner with a friend. The server was actually quite attentive despite being the only one there, he came around often to refill out waters and orchestrated the pace of serving well.

All in all, great place. I will most definitely be back. Happy to find a Thai place relatively close to home."

So that was fun. I always love good food and great company - got to catch up with my good friend Lisa. Here is her hiding behind her water glass as I tried to take her picture:

I'm sure she'll appreciate me posting that pic in this blog.

And here is the really delicious red wine that we had:

Moving right along to Wednesday, Meghan visited me at lunch for some Starbucks and a hello hug. And I got my birthday present from her :-) A purse that I spotted when shopping with her in NYC at this great little boutique in SOHO near her work - I wish I could remember the name of it because it was so adorable with such cute fun shopping.

After work, the feasting began at #buckoskitchen. It was Stephanie's birthday - which naturally means Tapas and champagne:

Some of the above ^^ Braised octopus, croquis st jacques, shrimp scampi, meat and cheese.

Shrimp and Conch Ceviche!

Stephs dad is just such a fantastic cook. 

Now, these aren't our best, but here's some pics of the group:

Love Annas face ^^

Happy 27th Stephanie!!

Now, sad but true - I have no pictures from the Thanksgiving feast! My family is pretty traditional in that we had a turkey, mashed and sweet potatoes, boiled carrots with butter, cranberry sauce - homemade AND from the can (that's sort of one of my guilty pleasures - cranberry sauce from the can), and a few other traditional dishes, pumpkin pie - the works.

Eating, followed by football and a sad loss for the Steelers to the Ravens- you win, Brian, you win...

Friday involved a little Black Friday shopping locally, and a disappointing dinner at Butcher and the Rye in downtown Pittsburgh. Had been wanting to try the place for a while...and, well, not sure how soon I'd be back. Possibly more on that later.

Saturday involved a lot of the couch and necessary homemade noodle soup:

Which went along nicely with a great Penn State win against Wisconsin.

Sunday was a morning/early afternoon at the Strip and a bloody mary brunch at Six Penn Kitchen - followed by lots of cooking - recipes with which I will share later. #cookingistherapeutic

For now, goodnight, and goodbye thanksgiving week 2013 - I am thankful for you and all the time you give me for friends, family and food.

happy cooking, happy birthday, happy hanukkah, happy thanksgiving.

xo, cheers, namaste.


Monday, November 18, 2013

brown sugar baby

It's been quite some time since my last post - and I really need some rest and relaxation tonight, so I thought it would be a good time to invite this blog back into my life.

Last night my family had birthday dinner for me, well really, I had birthday dinner for my family - because I'll take any excuse to cook. I made an awesome brown sugar salmon - a recipe that I got from my friend Meg's mom, Nancy.

Brown Sugar, Soy and Ginger Salmon

1.5 lbs fresh, boneless and skinless salmon
2 T soy sauce
1 T rice wine vinegar
2 tsp fresh minced ginger
2 T brown sugar
1 tsp sesame oil

Cut salmon into even slices
Combine all other ingredients into a bowl and whisk together
Marinate salmon in fridge for at least 30 minutes
Heat broiler
Place on a baking pan and broil fish for 3-7 minutes - depending on the thickness of the fish and how close to the heat each piece is - may have to move the pieces around a bit to get each piece evenly cooked - the salmon should caramelize on top and should flake easily with a fork when done.

I got my salmon from Wholey's in the Strip and this recipe was just delicious. Paired it with roasted brussels sprouts and rice. Yum.

xo. cheers. namaste,


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

weekend events (and grilled veggie marinade)

Last weekend was another busy weekend, and as per usual, too short. After having been away for two weekends in a row (Lancaster and then Deep Creek), I was excited to stick around town, clean my apartment (yes, I was excited to do this - and I'm still not done), get my haircut and see some old friends. Friday I stayed in, but Saturday involved a 'lil girls night with some big burgers. I brought a side of veggies to grille after a successful trip to the farmers market where I also got some herbs for the kitchen windowsill - a little bit of a makeshift potting situation - but it works:

Basil, Parsley and Lemon Thyme - yum.

I picked up red, yellow and green peppers, mushrooms, zucchini and eggplant and did a really simple and easy marinade that added great flavors to the veggies:

Grilled Veggie Marinade:

2/3 c olive oil
1/3 c balsamic vinegar
1 T chopped fresh basil
1 t minced garlic
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper

I chopped up my veggies in fairly large pieces and marinated them in fridge for about 4 hours in a plastic ziplock bag - then shish kebabed them up and threw them on the grill for abut 15 minutes. So fresh and tasty:

Bianca was our host and she cooked us up some delicious burgers and put together a creative and super fun spread of toppings to choose from:

She did an amazing job with all the selections - it was such a fun thing to do during our little reunion.

Looks pretty damn good! It was such a fun night and great to catch up with some old friends:

Sunday involved an afternoon Pirates game which was very fun. Turned out to be the longest game in PNC Park history - 16 innings! They lost - but we made the most of it:

The weekend was full of good times and good eats, so as I like to say: success!

xo. cheers. namaste,


Thursday, August 15, 2013

thursday night stir-fry

Just when I thought I had nothing to eat in my house, I realized I had just the right ingredients laying around for a delicious and easy stir-fry.

In my freezer I had some pre-cooked chicken that I just needed to saute (yea, I do the Tyson pre cooked (grilled) thing, I'm a busy girl!). In my fridge I had some carrots and celery. And in the 'pantry' I of course had some garlic and onion. Real simple:

Thursday Night Stir-Fry:

chicken (as much as you want) I used about 1/3 cup of chicken pieces
2 T neutral oil (such as grapeseed)
1 T minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped onion
4 smallish carrots, julienne
2 celery stalks, julienne
1/4 cup chicken stock or water
2 T soy sauce (I use a low sodium)
1 t dark oil (such as a toasted sesame oil)

- Cook the rice as you normally would (I do my rice the French way by boiling a large pot of water then adding salt and the rice and bring back to a boil for about 12 minutes, then drain)
- Heat the pan with some neutral oil (I always keep grapeseed oil in the house) over med-high heat
- Saute the chicken - which gets the pan nice and hot (you want a really hot pan to saute your veggies later) - and put the cooked chicken off to the side
- Add some more oil - let it heat up and throw the garlic and onion in for about 15 seconds
- Add the carrots and celery and chicken stock or water, turn the heat to high, and cook, stirring frequently, for about 8 minutes or until the veggies are tender - you may need to add additional stock or water if it becomes dry (p.s. carrots cooked in chicken stock are just so damn good - I love to braise carrots in chicken stock)
- Add the soy sauce and dark oil and throw the chicken back in, saute everything together for 30-45 seconds
- Serve over the rice

This recipe can be adapted in SO many ways - and is so super easy and delicious - a great way to use up the vegetables you have left from the week.

Yum. Perfect Thursday night dinner - and leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

xo. cheers. namaste,


Tuesday, August 13, 2013


It’s not always perfect, or planned. Sometimes though, it just turns out to be really, really beautiful:

xo. cheers. namaste,


Burgatory and some #softballswag

Last softball game of the year for the NR team after a long season wins. It's okay though, like they always say - the more important thing is that you had fun:

To celebrate the season we headed to Burgatory, preeeeetty sure I've mentioned this place in a post before and I'll tell you what, preeeeetty sure these are the best damn burgers in Pittsburgh:

The one 'bad' thing about Burgatory, and the only hesitation I heard from the group about going there, was that there usually tends to be a wait. Not necessarily a bad thing for the restaurant, unless it does deter people from going. Since it was a Monday night, we decided we would wing it and even if there was a wait, it would be worth it for our end of softball celebration. It was packed, even on a Monday and we did have to wait, but we also did have a party of 8. They did, however, make it a SUPER easy wait by taking our phone number so that they would text you when your table is ready. They even text you when you first put your name in with an approximate wait time - AND they give you ten minutes to get back to the restaurant or close out at the bar once your table is ready:

Pretty sweet. I had the Elk Gone Wild burger which involved delicious and lean Elk burger, smoked Gouda, caramelized onions, bacon jam, roasted tomato vinaigrette and arugula. SOOOO good. If I ever come across another Elk burger and I am in a burger mood, I would definitely get again - or maybe I'll try to make my own ;-). You can also custom create your own burgers with a choice of endless toppings. 

So needless to say, it was quite the American night with softball, beers (Great Lakes Oktoberfest - fall beers are a comin') and burgers. Yum! #softballswag

cheers. xo.


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Deep Creek and Breakfast Casserole

Well, I'm back from another weekend away! Had a blast with some friends in McHenry, Maryland at Deep Creek Lake. It was my first time there, and it was absolutely beautiful - here is the view from my friend Corey's house where we stayed:


Over the weekend everyone had a turn to make a meal - Meg and I were responsible for Saturday morning breakfast. Success! We made a super easy and delicious egg and sausage casserole. The recipe came from Megs fantastic cook of a mother, Nancy, and is called "Dad's Xmas Morning Egg Casserole." Super easy to make, and very convenient because you can put most of it together the night before:

Dad's Xmas Morning Egg Casserole:

1 lb sausage 
1/2 lb shredded sharp cheese
1/2 t dry mustard
1/2 t paprika
1 t salt
1 C sour cream
1 dozen eggs

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees
Coat a 2-3 qt dish with Pam or substitute and put 1/2 of the cheese on bottom of dish
Cook and drain sausage
Mix spices with sour cream
Add cooked sausage to sour cream mixture
Spread sour cream sausage mixture over cheese 
(above part can be done the night before)
Beat eggs and pour over sausage mixture
Place in oven for 30-40 minutes (best way to check if it is done is to give the pan a shake to make sure the eggs are fully cooked)

We weren't the only ones who did good, the weekend involved lots of other fantastic eats and drinks:

In addition to eating, we also did lots of boating:

Lots of hanging out and games:

And of course, lots of dancing:

Good times!

cheers. xo.