Category Archives: lunch

Mom’s (boozy) Birthday Brunch

Hi! How are you?  I’m fine. Yes, it’s been a while and I’m really sorry.  Sometimes I get busy with life and that’s exactly what happened with the month of February.  I wasn’t able to blog as much as I wanted to.  I cooked! I have a back log of posts, but I just couldn’t find the time to sit down and tell you all the things I’ve been doing.  And for that, I am terribly sorry! But here’s hoping my unplanned ‘break’ ( I wouldn’t really call it a break, I still facebooked…) got me out of the blogging rut.  Enough apologizing, on to the post. And what a post this is!

Jes and I have started a birthday tradition for Mom.  Last year for her birthday we made delicious steaks and sides. This year we went with brunch.  And you know, after two years it’s tradition. So now it’s tradition.  Let’s not wait any longer for the festivities.

I am in love with the cookbook Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan.  I made it a new years resolution to do more with the group French Fridays with Dorie (FFwD).  I think I participated in two recipe postings before I fell off the wagon.  I have browsed this cookbook numerous times, flagging different recipes I wanted to make, what’s coming up in FFwD, and just staring at the mouth watering photos in the book.  The quiches really caught my eye.  When Jes and I started to plan out Mom’s birthday brunch, I thought OMG. I can make Dorie’s quiches.  And Boozy Birthday Brunch was decided upon. Before I get into the quiches, Jes made Baked French Toast (Jes: Modifications:  I only had walnuts on hand to put between the bread layers, and only had vanilla on hand so it wasn’t really boozy.  Maybe next time.), Potato Salad (Jes: No modifications.  Only that the cucumbers didn’t sit over night, they sat marinating for like a 1/2 hour lol.), and Caramel Banana Sauce (Jes: No modifications, borgborgborg!)  We have at thing with the Sweedish Chef.  ON TO THE QUICHES!

The quiche dough was SIMPLE.  Flour, some sugar, some salt, cold butter, an egg.  Whirled all in my food processor.  My food processor is on the smaller side so I can only make one dough recipe (ie. enough for one quiche) at a time. But it all came together and BOOM. So easy.

After the dough chilled for a few hours, I rolled it out and smushed it in my tart pan. Don’t get me started on the tart pan.  Lets just say I was able to find one after vising THREE STORES.  You’d think Macy’s would have a tart pan.  Nope.  And using a pie plate was not as pretty.

This is the Quiche Lorraine (quiche 1 of 2).  Bacon, gruyere, onion, eggs, heavy cream.

The other quiche, Gorgonzola-Apple Quiche (not pictured!) had apples, gorgonzola, onions, eggs, and heavy cream.  Delightful.

Our lovely table scape courtesy of Jes.

Birthday brunch at it’s finest.

And what’s a brunch without booze?  Not a brunch, duh.  Jes supplied mimoas and I brought the best bloody mary mix EVER.  In my opinion.  So, ever. Zing Zang is the BEST.  If only we had pickled green beans up here to top it off.  Celery will just have to do.  If you are a bloody mary fan, I suggest ditching your mix and get this.  You can thank me later.

All of us pigged out and enjoyed ourselves.  It was a relaxing afternoon for everyone who attended and quite pleasing to the palate.  We don’t indulge all the time, but when we do, we do it right.

There were leftovers (I know… blasphemy).  But, we packed them up and sent them home with Mom.  Gram and Pap lucked out since they got to eat the leftovers :).

Since I know Mom follows my blog … I HOPE YOU HAD THE BEST BIRTHDAY BRUNCH! 🙂  Can’t wait to plan for next year! Love you!

PS – No recipes for the quiches? I know.  I’m keeping with the FFwD rule of not posting Dorie’s recipes.  Her book is amazing and I really do urge you to buy it. Yes, it’s THAT amazing I’m not posting the recipes.  But, if you ask me nicely, I may give it to you.



Filed under adult beverage, breakfast, lunch, side dish, sweet treat

Lunch at Habitat (Pittsburgh Restaurant Week ’13)

It’s Restaurant Week in Pittsburgh! My sister brought up doing lunch at Habitat and I was sold. I work just a few blocks away but have never walked in since it opened. Sad, I know! I’m kicking myself for that after this lunch experience.

Our table had quite the view of the kitchen! I have no words except WOW. The photo does not do it justice.

Jes and I both decided on the Executive Express lunch – a four course meal of soup, salad, sandwich, and a dessert.

OK – let me start with the bread. Really, the butter. OK, the bread was kind of out of this world. The butter was topped with a smokey sea salt and I about DIED when I took a bite.

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And the bite.

Insert figurative death.

There was an “express” quality to the express lunch. It was on our table pretty fast! But our conversation was no where near express. Woops 🙂

Moving on to the Executive Express lunch featured for Restaurant Week:

Starting with the top left and going clockwise:
(I think I got all things correct – the lovely server had me at Cuban puled pork and I zoned out)

  • Romaine lettuce salad with a Dijon mustard vinaigrette
  • Almond torte with berries and a cannoli filling esque topping
  • Lentil and ham soup
  • Cuban pulled pork wrap

First off – presentation. HOW CUTE. It’s like a super duper fancy boxed lunch!

I started with the salad that had a lovely kick to it. I love me some spicy anything.

Next, soup. It was a cold day yesterday. Nothing like warming up with a ham and lentil soup. One of the best ham/bean soups I’ve had in a very long time.

On to the sandwich part. Oh man. This pork was amazing. There were sweet pickles inside that were INSANEly delicious. The tart and sweetness said HELLO to my taste buds  So delicious. The server did mention something about pickles but, again, she had me at pork, so I was zoned.

Dessert. Oh, hello, tiny desserts. It wasn’t heavy which is what I like for an afternoon sweet. The last thing I need is to be snoozin’ under my desk at work.  The berries were warm and cooked and oh so delicious. The topping. THE TOPPING. Looks like ice cream, tastes like amazingness. It was so like cannoli filling and I wanted buckets of it. What a great pairing with sweet/tart fruit.

I think I liked my lunch.

Even though I decided on the express lunch, I browsed the menu and will be going back soon. There were so many delicious options to pick from and will make any lunch break extraordinary. (Sorry, Chipotle.)

Happy Restaurant Week, Pittsburgh!  I hope to be invited to the BLOGGER DINNER NEXT TIME. #HINTHINT #JUSTSAYIN


Filed under lunch

Pull Apart Pizza Bread

So Pinterest. I love you and hate you at the same time.  There are SO MANY THINGS that I want to re-create and I don’t have enough time in my life to do so.  Also, I sometimes question how good some of these pins will turn out…. Will my craft be as cute? Will my kitchen creations come out as beautiful as they do in the photos?  Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

This one was a 98% yes, with 2% of it being my fault and putting too much in the pan.  I’ll explain later.

So I saw this recipe pinned a trillion times on Pinterest all leading back to Just a Taste. Doesn’t it look AMAZE? Yeah, it does. So I pinned it along with about 30 others. I usually forget about my pins after pinning, but not this one. This one was stuck in my head. I think I even dreamed about it. I had to do something about it, so I did.

I bought everything I needed because, let’s be honest here, I don’t do a lot of bread baking. I buy my doughs pre-made for pizza or I support a local bakery.  Perhaps this will change my tune.  I may or may not have scoured the grocery store for yeast because … I’ve never bought yeast. BUT! I found it! All was well in my world and it was fine.

Onto the recipe and more photos:

Pepperoni Pizza Pull-Apart Bread from Just a Taste

Prep Time: 2 hours (includes proofing)
Cook Time: 30 min


For the dough:

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast (1 envelope)
1/3 cup whole milk
6 Tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup water
2 large eggs, at room temperature

For the toppings:
1/2 cup pizza or marinara sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup sliced pepperoni
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 cloves garlic, minced

In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together 2 cups of the flour with the sugar, salt and yeast. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine the milk and 6 tablespoons butter over low heat until melted. Remove the saucepan from the stove and stir in the water. Let set until it reaches 120-130ºF.

Pour the milk mixture over the dry ingredients, using a spatula to fold them together just until combined.

Attach the dough hook to your stand mixer and knead the dough on low speed until fully incorporated, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, kneading in between each addition so that the eggs are fully incorporated.

Stop the mixer and add 1/2 cup of the remaining flour, kneading it on low speed until the dough is smooth, about 2 minutes. Add 3 more tablespoons flour and knead just until the dough is soft, but still slightly sticky.

Lightly flour your work surface, and then turn the dough out onto the surface, kneading it 5 or 6 times just until it comes together into a ball.
Lightly grease a large bowl. Place the dough in the bowl and secure it tightly with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to proof in a warm, dry place for one hour, or until it doubles in size.

Gently deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll it into a rectangle measuring roughly 20″x11″. Brush the dough with the sauce, sprinkle it with the cheese and top it with the pepperoni.

Trim the edges, discarding any scraps, to make straight sides along the rectangle.

Cut the rectangle (width-wise) into 5 equal strips. Stack the strips atop one another and then cut the strips into 4 equal parts to make a total of 20 squares.

Lightly butter a 9″x5″ loaf pan. Stack the squares against each other, cut-sides down. (There will be extra space on both sides.) Lightly cover the pan with plastic wrap and let it proof for 30 minutes or until it doubles in size.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Stir together the melted butter and minced garlic.

Place the loaf pan on a baking sheet and bake it for 15 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven, brush the top of the loaf with the garlic butter, and then return it to the oven to continue baking for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

Remove the pan from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before turning the loaf out onto a serving plate.

Here’s where I went wrong. I put TOO MANY squares of dough in my baking dish. I probably should have put about half in. I ended up leaving the bread in the oven for probably another hour. I KNOW.  Totally my fault. But it was still delish!

See?! Doesn’t it still look amazing? It did. And it tasted delish. I’m making this again. Next time I’ll do a sweet version… can we say nutella? I die.


Filed under dinner, lunch, snack

Ina’s Zucchini Cakes

I do love me some Ina Garten.  Her and Martha are my inspirations, right behind my mom and gram.  I went for an easy, straight forward recipe.  And that’s what it was. No adaptions, just straight from her cookbook, Barefoot Contessa at Home. I didn’t bother with the oven because they were devoured as soon as they came off the pan.  But keep them in the oven if you are not serving immediately.

You’ll need:

  • 2 medium zucchini (about 3/4 pound)
  • 2 tablespoons grated red onion
  • 2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Unsalted butter and vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Grate the zucchini into a bowl using the large grating side of a box grater. Immediately stir in the onion and eggs. Stir in 6 tablespoons of the flour, the baking powder, salt, and pepper. (If the batter gets too thin from the liquid in the zucchini, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour.)

Heat a large (10 to 12-inch) saute pan over medium heat and melt 1/2 tablespoon butter and 1/2 tablespoon oil together in the pan. When the butter is hot but not smoking, lower the heat to medium-low and drop heaping soup spoons of batter into the pan. Cook the pancakes about 2 minutes on each side, until browned. Place the pancakes on a sheet pan and keep warm in the oven. Wipe out the pan with a dry paper towel, add more butter and oil to the pan, and continue to fry the pancakes until all the batter is used. The pancakes can stay warm in the oven for up to 30 minutes. Serve hot.

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Filed under dinner, ina garten, lunch

Grilled Peach Pizza


Oh yeah.  My friend Kristin posted a photo of her grilled pizza she made not too long ago and man was I inspired.  And then I flipped through Cooking Light and saw fruit on a pizza and it was all down hill from there.  I was hooked.  Here’s how I made mine.

You’ll need:

  • pizza crust
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • mozzarella cheese
  • spinach
  • onion, chopped
  • green pepper, chopped
  • chicken, cooked and shredded
  • apple wood smoked blue cheese
  • 1-2 peaches, thinly sliced
  • balsamic vinegar

I started off by taking a pre-made pizza (I haven’t messed around with making my own pizza dough and I was not in the mood to try), brushed some oil on it and slapped it on the grill (medium high heat), about a couple minutes on each side to warm it up and get some grill marks on it.  I then added some mozz cheese, spinach, onion, peppers, shredded chicken, apple wood smoked blue cheese, peach slices, and topped off with a little more mozz.  Shut the grill and let her go until the cheese has melted and the pizza is warmed through out.  Um this apple wood smoked blue cheese is OUT OF THIS WORLD.  I think I could have ate the whole thing because it was JUST THAT GOOD.  I refrained.  It will go on the next pizza I make.

Now the balsamic vinegar.  If you are handy and can multitask, pour about 1/3 cup in a small sauce pan and boil for about 2-3 minutes until it has reduced.  Once the pizza is done (or do this as soon as the pizza comes off the grill or oven), drizzle this all over it.  Oh yeah.  Do not forget this part.  It makes the pizza.  I may start drizzling it over everything. And I mean everything.

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Filed under dinner, lunch

I’m a little busy these days…

So sometimes my job requires me to work a butt ton of hours.  Between that and trying to train for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon, I’ve been a little busy!  I haven’t been even cooking a lot.  Wheel Deliver has been getting a lot of business from me lately.  I did make a quick little chicken salad at some point last week (somehow!)  so to not be neglectful, here is a little small, quick and filling recipe:

There is no method to my madness with this recipe, so you can use your best judgment:

  • shredded chicken
  • fat free mayo
  • grapes
  • celery, chopped
  • curry powder (less is more)

Mix it all up and enjoy!  I made this into little lettuce wraps and used up some of the bibb lettuce I’ve received in my CSA.  Refreshing!

I also thought I took a picture of this but apparently I was too busy to even do that.  It’s yummy, I promise!

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Filed under lunch, snack

Loretta’s Taco Pie

my mother makes this amazing casserole called “taco pie”.  now the name of it seems a little deceiving because there’s really nothing taco-y about it.  nor is it a pie.  regardless, it’s yummy.  i even requested it for my birthday dinner, so you know it has to be good!

  • 1 lb. ground meat  (turkey or beef)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 envelope taco seasoning
  • 1 can green chilies
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup Bisquick
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tomatoes , sliced
  • 1 cup shredded Monterrey jack cheese
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 1 can black olive,drained, cut into thirds

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease pie plate.  Cook and stir ground meat until brown.  drain.  Stir in seasoning mix.  Spread into plate, top with chilies.  Beat milk, baking mix and eggs until smooth; add corn and olives. Pour into plate.  Bake 40-45 minutes or until a knife inserted comes clean.  Take out of oven; top with sliced tomatoes and cheese.  Bake for 8 – 10 minutes longer.  Cool before serving.  Serve with sour cream,  hot sauce, chopped tomatoes, shredded lettuce and shredded cheese if desired.

taco pie is best when doubled.  more fiesta to eat!

thanks mom!


Filed under dinner, lunch