Thursday, May 28, 2009

Home Made Household Cleaners

I have been meaning to make my own household cleaners for a while and today is the day. Yes, I am in it for the green reasons, reduces waste, chemical free etc... but I am also in it for the cost saving factor and the smell. My nose hairs have been burt from a good bathroom cleaning.

Making your own cleaners required the Holy Trinity of household items. Lemons, Baking Soda and Vinegar. With these 3 you can make almost any cleaner you require. I am so excited about trying these out I may actually clean my house.

Vinyl Floor Cleaner- 1 cup white vinegar, 1 gallon warm water
Wood Floor Cleaner- 1/2 cup vinegar, 1 gallon water
Window Cleaner- 2 drops dish detergent, 3 tsp vinegar, 2 cups water
Scrub Powder (Commet)- baking soda
All Purpose Cleaner- 1 cup vinegar, juice of one lemon, gallon of water

There are tons of sites out there with recipes and ideas on more ways to make your own products. Here are a few:

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Orges are like Onions

If cutting into onions makes you cry like a wuss....

Try cutting near an open flame on your stovetop. It eats the gasses and helps you avoid looking like an idiot.


Today's new recipe was Spanakopita or Spinach Pie. I love this Greek treat but have never gotten around to trying it myself. In Astoria we used to trip over spinach pie on our way to the subway. It was all over the place. You stop for coffee, here have some spinach pie. Oh, you want a pack of cigarettes? Would you like Spanakopita with that? Close to the time we left Astoria my brother got engaged to a Greek lady. Like really Greek. Like, uses the word YA YA and not be referring to your vagina Greek. Anyway, she soon became my source for Spanakopita. Her family recipe is so good I never wanted to try to do my own. But alas, this week is all about trying new things so I busted out the phyllo and went to work.
adapted from Tyler Florence
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped1/2 cup chopped green onions, white and green parts4 garlic cloves, minced2 pounds fresh baby spinach, trimmed, washed and roughly chopped
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 eggs, lightly beaten
6 ounces crumbled traditional feta
5 ounces crumbled reduced fat feta (yea, like this is going to make it healthy)
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, toasted and ground
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 pound unsalted butter, melted
1 pound phyllo pastry sheets1/4 cup dried oregano1/4 cup finely chopped chives (from my own garden!)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Heat olive oil in a large skillet and place over medium heat. Saute onions and garlic for 3 minutes until soft. Add the spinach, season with salt and pepper, and continue to saute until the spinach is limp, about 5 minutes. Add lemon juice, remove from heat and place in a colander, and squeeze out excess liquid using a cheese cloth. Set aside to cool. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with feta, coriander, and nutmeg. Season, then fold in the cooled spinach mixture until well blended.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, brush 2 baking sheets with some melted butter. Unroll the phyllo dough and lay a sheet flat on a work surface. Keep the phyllo covered with a damp, not wet, towel as you work to prevent drying out and becoming brittle. Brush the sheet with melted butter, then sprinkle evenly with some oregano and chives. Repeat with 2 more sheets of phyllo, stacking on top of each other. With a pizza cutter, cut the sheets lengthwise into thirds to form strips. 
Place a heaping teaspoon of filling near 1 corner of the layered phyllo strip. Fold the end at an angle over the filling to form a triangle. Continue to fold the triangle along the strip until you reach the end, like folding up a flag. Brush the top with butter and dust with Parmesan, place on prepared baking sheet, and cover while preparing the remaining pastries. Repeat until all the filling and phyllo strips are used up. Bake for 15 to 25 minutes until the triangles are crisp and golden. Serve hot, warm or cold.

Sean likes

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Pittsburgh Magazine Best Restaurants Issue

I just received my Pittsburgh Magazine's Best Restaurants Issue. This issue is both my favorite and most despised issue the magazine puts out. I love reading about the top 25 restaurants and planning which I will visit next. The readers choice, however, makes me angrier than Anthony Bourdain at a Bobby Flay restaurant. 

Check out the reader's choice selections below. This is a sad day for anyone in Pittsburgh who enjoys good food. If this keeps up our city will be full of frat boy sushi and hush puppies. I can see it now, Sean staring into my eyes over a breakfast smile and a jaeger bomb.

Category 1ST PLACE
Best Restaurant- Nakama Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar
American- Eat'n Park Restaurants
Bakery- Oakmont Bakery
Bargain- Eat'n Park Restaurants
Best View- LeMont
Breakfast- Eat'n Park Restaurants
BYOB Restaurant- La Tavola Italiana Restaurant & Pizzaria
Catering Services -big Catering
Child-Friendly- Eat'n Park Restaurants
Chinese- Sesame Inn
Continental- Eleven
Deli- Smallman Street Deli
Dessert- Gullifty's
Downtown Lunch Spot- Franktuary
For Visitors- Primanti Bros.
French- Le Pommier
German- Max's Allegheny Tavern
Hamburger -Tessaro's
Holiday Restaurant- Grand Concourse
Hotel Dining- Omni William Penn Hotel / The Terrace Room
Indian- Tamarind: Flavor of India
Irish- Claddagh Irish Pub
Italian Chain- Olive Garden
Italian Non-Chain- F. Tambellini Ristorante
Japanese- Nakama Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar
Korean- Sushi Kim
Late-Night Student Fare- The Original Hot Dog Shop
Mediterranean- Casbah
Mexican- Mad Mex
Microbrewery- The Church Brew Works
Middle Eastern- Aladdin's Eatery
Most Authentic Pittsburgh- Primanti Bros.
Most Romantic- LeMont
Outdoor Dining -The Pines Tavern
Pan Asian / Fusion- Soba
Pizza Chain -Pizza Hut
Pizza Non-Chain- Mineo's Pizza House
Polish -Bloomfield Bridge Tavern
Post-Theater Dining -Six Penn Kitchen
Pre-Theater Dining -Six Penn Kitchen
Seafood -Red Lobster
Soup -Panera Bread
Special Event -LeMont
Sports Bar -Jerome Bettis' Grille 36
Steak- Ruth's Chris Steak House
Sunday Brunch- Grand Concourse
Sushi- Nakama Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar
Tapas -Ibiza Tapas & Wine Bar
Thai- Bangkok Balcony
Trendy- Seviche
Vegetarian- The Quiet Storm Coffeehouse & Restaurant
Vietnamese- Tram's Kitchen
Wine List- Sonoma Grille

I feel like I need Amy Pohler and Seth Meyers here for a "Really!?!" segment. 

Who are the people that take the time to vote in this poll and chose Red Lobster as best seafood? I went to Red Lobster about a year ago on one of those "let's go get stupid drinks and eat at a chain restaurant" expeditions. What, you don't go on those expeditions? Anyway, I was sick for a week. It was one of the absolute worst things I have ever put in my body. 

I am withholding most of my Nakama commentary for an upcoming blog dedicated to the "restaurant." But if Red Lobster has the best seafood in this city than I guess, based on those standards, Nakama has sushi...

And what is this freak obsession with Eat N Park? It is a Denny's with cookies....I am all for the cheap eats but just because you can get a salad bar with your breakfast does not mean it should be voted the 2nd best restaurant in the city!

And McDonalds is voted as child friendly? Feeding your kids McDonalds is anything but child friendly. In some cases I would call it abuse. 
Oh, they have salads there? I guess I was wrong. Take your kids to Mcdonalds and order them a salad, I dare you. 

see complete listing here

New recipe week

This week at work is slower than ever. With one boss in Germany and one in Dallas I don't even have to pretend to work.

Therefore I declare this week, new recipe week. Each day I will make something I have never tried before.

Mushroom and Goat Cheese Bechamel Pizzas
*new things- dried mushrooms, bechamel sauce

You would think I would have made a bechamel sauce in the past but this was my first attempt. These little pizzas were so good I can guarantee I will be making many more bechamel based things in the future. Expect these pizzas to be showing up at a dinner party soon!

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 cups milk
2 ounces fresh goat cheese, thickly sliced
Freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound pizza dough
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 pound baby portabella mushrooms
1 pkg. dried assorted wild mushrooms
1 cup beef stock
1 teaspoon thyme leaves

1. Heat beef broth until almost boiling. Add dried mushrooms and soak for 30 minutes until reconstituted. Remove mushrooms and set aside. (save liquid when finished for a rick stock)

2.Preheat the oven to 500°. Preheat a pizza stone or generously oil a large baking sheet.

3. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over moderate heat. Stir in the 3 tablespoons of flour until a paste forms. Gradually pour in the milk, whisking until smooth. Bring the béchamel sauce to a simmer over moderately high heat, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook, whisking often, until no floury taste remains, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the goat cheese until melted. Season the sauce with nutmeg, salt and pepper.

4.Cut the pizza dough into 4 pieces. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out each piece to a 6-inch round. Dust the rounds with flour and let rest until slightly puffed, about 15 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the smashed garlic clove and cook over moderate heat until golden, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and browned, about 15 minutes. Discard the garlic. Season the mushrooms with salt and pepper and stir in the thyme leaves.

6. Roll out one of the dough rounds to form a 9-inch round. Transfer the round to the peel and brush the edge of the dough with olive oil. Spread 1/3 cup of the béchamel over the dough and scatter one-fourth of the mushrooms on top.
Transfer the round to the pizza stone and bake for about 5 minutes, until the edges are crisp and the béchamel is bubbling.

7. Transfer the pizza to a work surface, cut into wedges and serve. Repeat with the remaining dough and toppings.

recipe adapted from Food & Wine Magazine

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Breakfast in Bed.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Ho Ho's

My favorite coffee place, Big Dog Coffee, has amazing little snacks in the window. I tried one of their homemade Ho Ho's the other day and was inspired to make a version of my own. Everything started out okay, I baked the cake in a sheet, I whipped the center filling, I prepared everything to perfection. But as soon as the cake was frosted it all went downhill. Now I am left with something Sean has dubbed "poop loafs". Maybe these would be more appropriate for the "Steve Dump Bingo"* we are planning for later this summer.

The Theory was to make a thin chocolate cake, rolled into a little ho ho type log, filled with cream cheese frosting and covered in chocolate. But the cake is dry and tastes like crap. It also cracked when I tried to roll it. I rolled it in the wrong direction and the chocolate would not stick to the cake. This is how poop loafs are made. Well, this is one way poop loafs are made.

If you want to give it a try go for it. Hopefully yours will turn out better than mine.

*Think Cow Patty Bingo with a dog in your backyard* *
For those who don't know, Cow Patty Bingo is where you pick a spot in a field in which you believe a cow will take a shit. Whomever picks the correct square wins. It's very fancy and very cool.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Great Asparagus Urine Experiment!

As you probably already know, asparagus can have strange after-effects in the bathroom. I believe I am one of the most susceptible people to this urine odor phenomenon. You can smell my asparagus pee all through the house after I munch on some of these little green odor missiles. I could fumigate our second floor just from having a few spears in a salad. If you don't believe me you can ask Sean, he refuses to come near me after I eat it.

I have decided that my acute sensitivity to asparagus is a calling. I will, nay, I must, use my body in an experiment to find a cure. I will conduct a desperate search to find something that will neutralize the smell of asparagus pee. My body and the house will smell sort of like liquid vitamins and chicken noodle soup until I make my discovery.

The test will work like this, I eat asparagus then I eat/drink something that I think will reduce the odor in my pee. I will then rate the effect of each on this blog.

Control Group Findings.
Control meal- Asparagus in a salad with goat cheese, red onion, beets, cucumber balsamic vinaigrette
7:15- Consumed salad
8:45- Bathroom break #1, odor present not deadly
10:15- Bathroom break #2, odor pungent and lingering
1:10 am- bathroom break #3- odor slightly less pungent but still lingering
9:00 am- next morning bathroom trip- Odor still evident, less pungent but noticeably there

Week #1- Will Hard Alcohol reduce the effects?
Theory: Drinking liquor will dehydrate me and get all the odor out right away.
Meal- Salad with asparagus, goat cheese, red onion, tomato, cucumber, zucchini and balsamic vinaigrette
Neutralizer- 2 Whiskey Drinks.
8:20- Consumed Salad
9:13- Bathroom break #1- slight smell, I would compare this to the normal reaction a person may have to Asparagus
10:57- Bathroom Break #2- Very Pungent and Lingering. (Sean used the bathroom after me and yelled "This is gross; what the hell is wrong with you?")
1:00 am- Bathroom Break #3- Fading smell with staying power
9:00 am- morning bathroom trip- no scent
Conclusion: Drinking Whiskey forces most of the smell out in one pass but not enough to declare it a success.

If you have any ideas you want me to try go ahead and suggest them. If it won't kill me I will try it. My goal is to solve this age old pissing problem and share it with the world!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Indianish Food

Last night I found myself with a couple of chicken breasts and no idea how to prepare them. I was in the mood for some spice but not the Frank's Red Hot kind... I decided to throw together things i had to try to come as close as possible to making an Indian Masala Dish... turns out, not too bad. I would definitely make some substitutions in the future to make the dish more successful but I was quite proud of what I could pull together with no prior indian cooking experience and no recipe to work from. To Sum it all up- I am fucking awesome !

2 chicken breasts
1 tbsp butter
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 cup white wine
1/2 large can tomato puree (in the future I would use fire roasted tomatoes, about 12 oz or so...maybe more)
2 tbsp. cumin
2 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tbsp. black peppercorns
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 cinnamon stick
a couple of whole cloves
tsp. nutmeg
a dash of ground ginger
1 tbsp. curry powder
heavy cream
1/4 bunch cilantro
oil, salt & pepper

1. Heat veg. oil in a large skillet over med-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper.
2. Brown chicken on all sides (my breasts were large so i cut them into pieces first..yea I will say it breasts were large)
3. Move chicken to a plate, cover and set aside.
4. Toast all spicesexcept nutme, ginger and curry in another clean pan over high heat for about a minute, don't burn them!
5. Grind down all the spices into a nice powder
4. add butter to chicken pan along with finely chopped onion and garlic. Saute until soft.
5. Add about a cup and a half of white wine. Deglaze pan. Cook for a few minutes.
6. Add in tomato puree or crushed tomatoes whatever...
7. Add about 3/4 of the spice mix
8. Add chicken back in along with any juice on plate.
9. Simmer until chicken is cooked through.
10. Stir in a couple of splashed of heavy cream.
11. Add chopped cilantro and serve over rice.

*some of the measuements may be a bit off*
It should look something like this...

*sorry for the horrible pic, my camera battery died just as I was taking this*

Monday, May 4, 2009


My submission to this is why your fat....

Bay of Pigs Headwich (Fatheads Pittsburgh, PA)

roast pork, ham, swiss pickles, caribbean killer sauce, honey mustard..with chips