Friday, August 31, 2012

Labor-less Labor Day eats!

Why does it seem like Labor Day weekends involve so much planning, shopping, and cooking?  (I sense many of you mm-hmm'ing and nodding.)

I'm here to remind you that Labor Day was invented to pay tribute to and celebrate workers of all kinds and provide them with a day of rest and relaxation.  And, you know, give 'em one last chance to have a good ol' fashioned summer shindig!

Make it easy on yourself.  Fire up the grill and cook burgers and dogs.  Ask friends to each bring a side -- never underestimate the value of veggie tray -- and tell 'em you've got dessert covered.

Here are four labor-less sweet treats that require minimal prep time and yield maximum flavor:


Have a blast, rain or shine, and enjoy the long weekend!  :)  I'm pumped about the start of college football season (and the new recipes I'll have to share with you).  P-I-T-T, let's go Pitt!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thin and crispy chocolate chip cookies

Who out there knows a salty person?

No, I'm not using salty in place of other words like grumpy or mean.  This is a happy place, people :)   I'm talking about someone who craves salty foods over sweet almost always.

We've all heard someone say unfathomable (at least to me) things like, "Nah, I'll pass on the brownies in the break room."  I have a coworker with such willpower, and she's earned the punishment privilege of being home to the candy dish.  She can resist Reese's Pieces and almond M&Ms like a champ.  At times, I'm downright envious.  But, put a bag of ranch sunflower seeds or salt and vinegar popcorn in front of her and it's a wrap.  It's her kryptonite, and it makes her human, and I love it.

For me, it's no surprise that sweets have the snacking lobe of my brain and stomach monopolized, though the kind of sugary desserts that catch my eye definitely change day to day.  Sometimes I want smooth and creamy birthday cake ice cream.  Other days, it's a big hunk of dark chocolate or a zippy York Peppermint Patty.  And, like clockwork, every summer my cravings for sour cherries reach a peak and I must do something about it.

But, sometimes, something wacky happens.  The universe hiccups, and I suddenly want salty and sweet at the same time.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Restaurant review: Sarris Ice Cream Shop

If you asked me what the happiest place on earth were, I'd surely respond with two words that would surprise no one: Disney World!

But, if you were to ask me what the happiest place in western Pennsylvania were, could you guess what my answer would be?

Sarris Candies Shop and Ice Cream Parlor in Canonsburg, PA.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Home is where the heart is

I'm starting to compile craft projects to do when it gets cooler outside and I'm spending much more time inside.  This is the first on my to-do list:

My heart is in PA, so I'd be making a keystone state version of this project.  Step by step instructions are available here.

I think this would make a sweet gift for newly-relocated friends to remind them of their roots or, perhaps, their new home!  Don't you agree?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Fast Friday: Sante Fe BBQ chicken pizza

Have you ever done something and been so excited about coming up with such a unique, never-before-seen-by-this-world idea that you were practically jumping out of your socks flip-flops to share it with your friends?

But, as you're about to share your brilliant revelation, you discovered that it'd been done before, much less, by you.


Repetition be damned, you decided to not look back and march along, proud as you were before you made said discovery, and raved about your idea anyway.  You might even wish you'd not brought up the previous incident at all, hoping your friends either won't notice or, if they do, will be too polite to mention it.  Again, oops.

I believe I've just given you an extended example of the concept of being stubborn.  You're welcome.

And I'm going to be totally stubborn and insist that you make this right now.  Not tomorrow or next week.  But tonight!  Nothing says "hello, weekend!" quite like pizza that doesn't require sharing, especially a fast and fresh one made at home.  Sante Fe BBQ chicken pizza!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Creamy taco pasta

I can't believe that today marks the midpoint of August.  I've now officially entered the "oh crap, I haven't done that awesome thing I wanted to do this summer yet!" panic.  Fairs, water parks, outdoor movies, hiking, you name it.  Time is running out!  At least we have a trip to Kennywood planned for next week.  Panic reduced... slightly.  Who are we kidding?  I'm still a bit spazzy.

Everywhere you look it's "back to school" this and that.  As a working adult, one who has been out of school since the summer of 2006, I've got this to say -- I'm totally green with envy.  I looooove back to school shopping!  Raise your hand if you agree.

New notebooks (do kids even need those anymore?) and pencils in a rainbow of colors, the hippest backpack, and a first day of school outfit that's sure to impress the fellas.  Out of 13 first day of school outfits, it's likely that half involved some sort of jumper or skort.  Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure one appeared late in junior high if not early high school.  "Cool" is such a subjective term, don't you think?

While you kindly figure out how to justify a back to school shopping trip for me (any and all reasons are welcome!), I'm going to try to turn a blind eye to all of the crazy sales at the grocery store.

Yes, the grocery store.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Braised green beans & summer vegetables

Have you ever played the "what if" game?  You know, when you imagine that some unlikely event occurs, leaving you to enjoy a new found talent or gift.

What if you could teleport?  I'd go somewhere different in Europe for dinner (and dessert, obvs) every night.

What if all calories were equal?  I'd eat nothing but ice cream and peanut butter for an entire week.

Oh, and Matt's favorite question: What if you won the lottery?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The secret to perfectly cut brownies

And, no, the answer isn't to forego cutting them at all and eating them out of the pan with a fork.

(Although, that sounds like a pretty awesome plan, if you ask me.)

Think back to the last time you attempted to cut a tray of brownies.  The goal was to slice the pan of chocolate heaven into neat little squares and display them on that lovely platter you've been saving for a special occasion, be in a family picnic or a housewarming party.  So, you make the first slice and... BLERG!  This is what happens:

That's at least four brownies that I would call "ruined" and refuse to serve on the platter because they look a bit worse for wear.  Then you wipe off the knife and try to trim those jagged edges (eating the discarded pieces, ahem) with no more success.  Now you've got brownies of all shapes and sizes and most still with uneven edges.  So annoying!

Thankfully, I've got a ridiculously fool-proof and inexpensive way to save all future trays of brownies or dense chocolate cakes from such a cruel, masochistic fate and it's all thanks to my dear mom.

Ready for this?