Friday, September 28, 2012

Soup-tember round-up!

Another great summer is in the books, and we've officially fallen for fall.  (Yep, I went there.)  The leaves are starting to turn, and I already one fall crafting project under my belt (to be shared next week).

I love love love this time of year because the days of sweating profusely and steering clear of the kitchen are finally over.  Oppressed no more!  Nothing says autumn quite like a pot full of something tasty bubbling away on the stove top, making the entire house smell as cozy as your prized pair of sweatpants feels.

Here are my favorite chili, soup, and stew recipes, perfect for a comforting weeknight dinner and just as yummy on a weekend.  No matter what you're craving -- brothy, creamy, healthy, hearty, spicy or even crunchy -- there's something to love for everyone!

Beef & chicken


Mostly meatless (can be vegetarian)

Is there a soup you don't see listed and would like me to make?  Let your appetite be heard and leave a comment!  I'm sensing this soup craving of mine is going to last for a few months, so I welcome any and all inspiration and suggestions :)

Have a fantastic weekend and enjoy the rest of September!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Product review: Candy corn Oreos, part 2

Today's post is the second and final in the saga of the candy corn Oreo experience.  If you missed the first part yesterday, I suggest you check it out before reading any further.

(Disclaimer: What you see below is the unedited version of my tasting experience.  A real fructose play-by-play.  I'd planned to turn my notes into coherent sentences later but decided that I wanted you to feel as though you were there with me.  Please enjoy my slightly comical and hopefully-not-too incoherent musings!)

i selected one cookie
two vanilla cookies (think Golden Oreos)
double stuf quantity of filling
twisted apart halves
sampled cookie without filling
mild vanilla taste, exactly like Golden Oreos
i'd eat these cookies plain
(i'd venture to say that, ground up, they'd make a great cheesecake crust)
after one small bite of the cookie, i rejoined the two halves
and took a full cookie-filling-cookie bite
chew, chew

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Product review: Candy corn Oreos, part 1

Ever since I posted about the plethora of seasonal treats hitting store shelves, I've been dying to sink my teeth into one of these limited edition cookies.  On Sunday, September 23rd, 2012, I aimed to answer the million dollar question: Were candy corn Oreos really worth the hype?

(Disclaimer: What you see below is the unedited version of my tasting experience.  A real fructose play-by-play.  I'd planned to turn my notes into coherent sentences later but decided that I wanted you to feel as though you were there with me.  Please enjoy my slightly comical and hopefully-not-too incoherent musings!)

so curious
love candy corn
checked 3 target stores
finally found (for locals, the robinson town center location)
searched through aisles of halloween candy and seasonal foods
matt teased me that they didn't actually exist
two women overheard us and said they're looking, too
we made a pact to alert one another if one duo was successful
as i picked up a customer service phone to ask for help
women called to us having spoken with a target employee
cookie display at the checkout
armed with one package (at $2.99 apiece) and a bag of pumpkin pie kisses
left target a very satisfied halloween treat enthusiast
couldn't just try in parking lot; had to go home

once at home, no distractions
no tv, music, or even lingering tastes of recently eaten food
sat down and got to business

first impression
different than traditional and i suspected nabisco was cutting corners and giving me less cookies.
upon first opening the package, i was practically knocked backwards by the smell of the cookies
(thank goodness i was sitting)
but, that didn't save me from the wave of artificially sweet air that slapped me across the face
reminded me of the feeling i get when removing the lid and smelling a vanilla buttercream-scented candle
made me want to get my cookie quickly and close the package
oh, and regarding the cookie count and the potential trickery on nabisco's part?
i was right.
not typical oreo packaging of three long columns of cookies, jam-packed
instead, three short rows of cookies
googled how many cookies in a package of double stuf oreos -- 36
in the candy corn package, 20 cookies.

Please tune in tomorrow for part 2: The tasting and my final thoughts.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Sausage kale breakfast strata

Mission: Feed 12+ hungry people (9 of which are manly men) a hearty, stick-to-your-ribs breakfast. Sounds like a reasonable request, right?

Oh, and keep in mind that it'd be best if you made whatever dish you planned on serving ahead of time.  And easy to transport.  While keeping it warm because there isn't a way to reheat it.

And, did I mention that this will be eaten by folks who are standing around in a parking lot?

It might seem like a bit of a challenge -- how do you do this every week, Bonnie?! -- but it turned out to be as easy as making pancakes for Matt and me on any given morning.

My first clue was to make something confined to a single dish, like a casserole, to minimize hassle and possibility for errors (I've been known to forget a thing or two under pressure, like a knife to cut a cake... d'oh!).  I immediately thought of the baked French toast I've made so many times.  Preped the night before, covered and  refrigerated, and baked in the morning.  Something like that was ideal in order to be out the door en route to Land of the Ketchup by 8:30.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Fast Friday: Chicken fajitas

Do you have a fear of making certain restaurant foods at home?

Um, believe it or not, I do.

Maybe fear isn't quite the right word, so let's just say I'm incredibly hesitant and usually unwilling to make certain dishes in my own kitchen.  At the time, I'll say it's because I don't have the right tools or that the ingredients are too "out there" or pricey.  But really because, deep down, I'm worried they won't taste as good as I think they should.

What's funny, though, is that the dishes that fit that description in my head are wide-ranging, from fancy to exotic to downright homey. 

Like eggs benedict.  Fancy pants city, people.  I've made it at home once, and the hollandaise (or, as Matt calls it, holiday) ended up with the consistency of melted butter, not thick and creamy like it should've been.

Or lobster ravioli.  It's safe to say that I'll never, ever make that from scratch.  Lobster, nope.  Homemade pasta, definitely nope.  And the patience to combine them?  Hellllllllllllllllllllll no.

Still yet, chicken tikka masala from India Garden.  This is, hands down, Matt's favorite meal in the world.  A few months ago I almost summoned the courage to make it but chickened out (no pun intended).

I'd like to think the average home hook, or even above average, isn't making any one of these on a semi-regular basis.  (If you, however, make eggs benedict for your entire household on a weekly basis, please refrain from commenting and sharing that fact with other readers.  And, you know, please come visit me at your earliest convenience. Thanks!)  All three dishes are relatively complex and even a bit exotic.  Not your standard everyday fare.

Unfortunately for me my ego, most folks wouldn't lump chicken fajitas into that category.  What's so daunting about seared chicken and vegetables in a humble tortilla?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sausage kale bean soup

My mom always told my sister and me not to play with our food.  She also told us to actually eat said food rather than pushing it around the plate trying to make it look like we ate more than we actually did.  I employed that technique every time we had spinach of any kind, but that wise way-too-observational-for-my-own-good woman saw right through it.  Drat.

Wouldn't you know that I now love spinachSo, so much!  Go figure.

What my mom didn't tell us was that we should be nice to our food.  After all, food is there to help you and make you happy!  Treat it with the same respect you would fine China.  Or that dry-clean only dress that you absolutely had to have and actually heed the care label's instructions. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

My all-time favorite three bean & beef chili with Fritos

Everyone's got one.

A guilty pleasure TV show?  Gossip Girl.  Hands down.

A way to distract one from eating the entire pre-Halloween stash of candy?  Knitting.  Yes, knitting.

A morning routine at work before getting down to business?  Log in, get water, check Gmail, and check CNN  Don't judge me, please.  I get my "real" news during breakfast from Good Morning America.

But, I digress.  If you are much less superficial than I am or just as much so but don't openly admit it, I bet you can agree with this next one:

Everyone's got a favorite chili recipe.

One that you know like the back of your hand.  One that will cure whatever ails you, be it the first cold of the season or simply an intense hungry for a delicious hearty meal.  And one that you are proud to serve to anyone who comes a'knockin'.

I live for chili that's that good.  Don't you?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sniffling and sneezing

The blog seems to have gotten a bit of a cold.  Apparently, it had way too much fun this weekend and ran itself into the ground.  And then, last night, when I tried to do some writing, the blog coughed and made me accidentally publish a post consisting of a smattering of pictures without any text or formatting that was clearly not ready for the world to see.

Basically, the blog went out in public wearing a bathrobe and with foam rollers still in its hair -- the horror!

So, my apologies.  Regular programming will return tomorrow while yours truly my computer spends today fighting off this cold.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Citrus quinoa salad with grilled chicken

I played with your heart, got lost in the game.  Oh, baby baby.

Vintage Britney Spears was really the best, wasn't she?  She always straddled the line between crazy fun and just plain crazy, but you loved her anyway because her music was so darn catchy.

Kinda like me.  Always toeing the line between diligent photographer and delinquent blogger.  But the food is so good that you keep coming back.  Right? :)

Oops I did it again
I made some good food
Forgot cam-er-a
Oh, baby baby

You see, I set out to make dinner one night last week.  And knew it would be delicious.  But didn't plan to write about it.

However, when I plated it, I entered into full-on spaz mode, firmly smacking my forehead.  "THIS DISH IS SO FRIGGIN' GORGEOUS!  WHERE IS YOUR CAMERA, WOMAN?"

(Yes, I really truly smack my head when I'm alone and do something stupid.  It's one of those qualities Matt sweetly refers to as "endearing.")

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Fall fashion show at lunch!

Or, rather, fashion show for lunch.

While New York Fashion Week may be in full swing, it's not just the runway models that are being given head-to-to new looks.  There are some classic products with fancy and quirky makeovers hitting grocery store shelves this month:

  • Campbell's is releasing limited edition Andy Warhol-inspired designed cans of tomato soup for sale this month in honor of the 50th anniversary of Warhol's pop art masterpiece.  How cool are these?!  I might have to pick up a few to decorate my kitchen.
  • Cadbury released its Halloween answer to the Easter creme egg: the screme egg!  The taste is supposedly the same, but the traditional orange/yellow "yolk" filling is now green.  I actually spotted these at Target over the weekend and passed at first because it seemed too early for Halloween candy.  But, I think I'm going to have to break down and get one this weekend.  Report to follow.
  •  Not necessarily new this year, but making its seasonal return is the Jones Soda Co. flavor entitled Turkey & Gravy.  Has anyone tried this?  A good friend of mine is a Jones fanatic, but he may draw the line at this flavor.  As gross as it may sound, I'm still a little bit intrigued...
  •  If the Starbucks' ads didn't clue you in, the pumpkin onslaught has begun -- hooray!  I, for one, can't get enough pumpkin in my life, so I'm definitely looking forward to the always delicious Limited Edition Pumpkin Ice Cream by Edy's.  New on the scene, at least to me, are the Pumpkin Spice Hershey's Kisses.  Curiously, there is no chocolate involved; instead the outer shell is pumpkin flavored candy while the filling is cinnamon creme.  If you've tried these, would you recommend them?
  • Apple pie-scented candles are an effortless way to have your house smelling cozy and ready for company.  Why not have a treat that matches that very smell?  Pepperidge Farm Farm Limited Edition Caramel Apple Pie Soft Dessert Cookies should do the trick. Also, there is a Pumpkin Cheesecake version of these available.  Word on the street Internet is that you can find these at Wal-mart.
  • And, last but not least.  In fact, probably the most talked about seasonal food item out there right now are Candy Corn Oreos.  The Internet is abuzz with awe, curiosity, and even some disgust from the candy corn haters of the world.  Both the Today Show surveyed its staff and posted about the mixed reviewsAre you going to give the seasonal sandwich cookie a try?  It's just so bizarre that I think I must try it.  Again, a review to follow shortly, hopefully. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Apple raisin scones

Le sigh.  It's Monday, isn't it?  What if I ignore every calendar and day planner in my life?  I'd like to stay in my peaceful weekend bubble juuuuuuuust a bit longer.


After a whirlwind two weeks or so, full of college football, family picnics, fancy VIP book parties and generally running this way and that, it all came to a screeching halt on Friday.

I'd planned to start my weekend with an ultra sweaty, heart-pounding workout but that turned out to be a bust when a harmless prank on my coworker resulted in a surprisingly painful injury to my right leg.  Instead of hitting the gym, I headed straight home with my evening wide open.

All week I'd tracked the weekend forecast of cooler temperatures and multiple chances for rain showers and storms.  I legitimately prayed -- I kid you not -- for downpours.  I wanted every excuse in the world not to "take advantage of this beautiful weather while you can!" and instead stay inside, cozied up in my new sweats, and just be a bum.

Be careful what you wish for, friends.  You bet I got my downpours, but I also got a bit of immobility in my right leg, nixing my intended workout on Friday and long run on Saturday.  Ask and you shall receive, right? :)

Regardless, I didn't really know what to do with myself on Friday.  It wasn't time to make dinner yet, but I wasn't ready to plant myself on the couch for the evening.  No matter how hard I try, I will always have the "earn it" mentality.  What could I do that would be productive?

Bake.  Obviously.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Fast Friday: Trail mix Krispie treats

Though it's not yet technically fall, I tend to think that Labor Day signals the unofficial end of summer.  (Starbucks' beliefs are slightly different, apparently.)  Autumn is still a few weeks down the road, but one very important season kicked off last weekend: college football season!

So far, a very warm, humid, and slightly rainy college football season at that.   And a downright embarrassing one.  Ahem.  But I'm not bitter.  I'm not bitter because, regardless of how poorly Pitt's football team may fare, there are so many other totally awesome things about football season.

Like season tickets.  In the club level.  With a roof!

And having a legitimate excuse to purchase fun non-work clothing clad with Pitt logos of both the unoriginal and totally classic kind.

But, my absolute favorite thing is spending time with great friends from college and beyond, both pretending we're still in college and complaining about current college students while uttering things like, "We were never that bad."  News flash: Yes, you absolutely were that bad.  And it was awesome.  :)

All of those things being said, there is one essential part of college football season that I must discuss.  And, you're here so I bet you can guess what I'm going to hail next -- tailgating food!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Open letter to Starbucks

Dear Starbucks,

I'm writing to extend a hearty congratulations to your company, namely your marketing team.  You have succeeded in becoming more powerful than the internationally-used centuries old Gregorian calendar system and the national holiday of Labor Day.  Not too long ago, both of them were once used to signal the end of summer and the beginning of the next season of autumn.  However, with the clever timing of changes to your menu, you have managed to convince Americans everywhere into thinking that fall indeed begins with the return of gloriously delicious the pumpkin latte.

This seasonal hot beverage manages to brainwash folks, who are sporting flip flops and sunglasses and even wiping sweat from their foreheads, that they absolutely must have a warm spiced beverage while it's 85 degrees outside.  (Seriously.  This is a true story.  I witnessed it today on my lunch break.) 

So, congratulations!  Mazel Tov!  Well done, Starbucks, well done.  You've got me and everyone else longing for colorful foliage, riding boots, apple-picking, and scarves.  And the always-addicting but only seasonably-available pumpkin spice latte.  I'll be doing my chilly rain dance this weekend, hoping for an opportunity to jump on the pumpkin spice bandwagon, too.  Even though summer doesn't end for another three weeks.

Love, Katy

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Your guide to Pittsburgh food

Attention Pittsburgh locals and past, present, and future visitors to this glorious city!

You may or may not have noticed that, in recent years, the 'burgh has become quite a magnet for cooks and cuisines of all backgrounds.  I don't think I'm the only person here who is happy ecstatic to see the city shake its culinary reputation of being the place where Primanti's is located.  The sandwiches with fries and coleslaw have their place in Pittsburgh culinary history, but there are so many more options these days that beg to be explored.

Not sure of where to begin?  Pick up a copy of the Food Lovers' Guide to Pittsburgh, which hits shelves (and Internet stores) today!

The four ladies of eatPGH have eaten, toiled, and eaten some more to give readers the most comprehensive review of the restaurants, specialty stores, farms, festivals, and food havens in the area.  The book is organized by neighborhood, too, for convenience, with an alphabetical index in the back.  Order a copy (or seven) today.

Cheers, food friends! :)