Sunday, July 22, 2012


Anyone remember the scene in Austin Powers Goldmember when Austin is talking to the Wonder Years Dude and he keeps getting distracted by that huge, hairy mole on his face?  Powers starts flapping about moley moley, chop it up and make some guacaMOLE!?  Guacamole always makes me think of that clip.

This blog post is a tribute to my Sister's moley moley skills.  And she DIDN'T chop any moles up to make this delish guacaMOLE.  I'm pretty much in love with it.  It reminds me of the scrumptious guac that you get at Chipotle on your Burrito bowl.

You aren't even going to believe how easy this is...

  • 5 Avocados
  • 2 Jalapenos diced (wash your hands a million times after you chop these up...otherwise you'll have some burney mcburnerson all over your skin afterwards!)
  • 1/2 Red Onion diced
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of Cilantro chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of Lime Juice
  • 1 tablespoon of Salt (to taste)

Mix everything together!  Mash it up!  It's so easy.  Pour all your ingredients in one bowl, mash and stir till you have the desired consistency.  I like mine chunky, but you can go crazy and keep mashing if you like yours smooth.  


GUAC SECRET!!!  Save one or two of the pits from your avocados and put them back in your dip when it's all finished.  There is some sort of enzyme in the pit that helps keep your guac from turning brown.  You know how when you make guacamole you have to eat it ALL or it turns brown?  It's like magic, if you just put your pit back in the mash after your done with your dip it keeps for a little while longer AND doesn't brown. Crazy huh?  Oh Mother Nature. You're so clever :) 

Guacamole is kind of one of those things you can't really screw up.  You can adjust your ingredients to your liking with more or less of some of the ingredients.  The only thing I wouldn't leave out it the lime juice since that also kinda helps with preventing instant browning.  

So happy guaccing, Ya'll!  YUMMO!!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Pittsburgh Places that Rule: #1 The Potato Patch

So for those of you Pittsburghers who think Kennywood is awesome for their rides and those of you Non-Pittsburghers who think Kennywood stinks, YOU'RE BOTH WRONG!  Growing up in Ohio I definitely was spoiled by awesome roller coaster rides.

Cedar Point or Kings Island may have WAAAAY better rides, but Kennywood has one thing no other amusement park will ever outdo, The Park Food!

My all time favorite Kennywood food stop is the Potato Patch.  Patch Fries are THE BOMB!  And the other AWESOME thing about Kennywood Food -- it's terribly CHEAP!  If I were to get french fries at Cedar Point they'd be like $10 or something crazy like that.  I've never been able to eat an entire order of Patch Fries the serving size is so huge.

You get these crazy steak cut fries that they cut and fry up right in front of you, and then you can smother them with whatever toppings you choose: Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Gravy (Yes. Pittsburgh has this weird obsession with smothering just about anything with French Fries or Gravy), Garlic, Salt, Onions and Bacon...mouth watering yet?  Take a look at this:

The park serves more than half a million orders in just 4 months! Crazy, right? They have definitely won an award for "Best Park Potato" (did you even know there was such an award out there?).  While I'm partial to the fries at the park (that only cost $5.50 most of their food items are less than $5!) Kennywood knows what's up with other park food too...

Some other parky faves are the double header ice cream cone at the Golden Nugget.  It's this insane double ice cream cone thing rolled in chocolate and then covered in jimmies (Yeah. Pittsburgh calls sprinkles "jimmies", funny huh?)  Or the mouth waterer I haven't even gotten to try yet is the Blueberry Slushie mixed with Vanilla Frozen Yogurt!  And you can't forget before you walk out of the park to buy some chocolate covered potato chips, fudge and a bag of fresh made cotton candy FOR ONLY $2.80!!!!  You think I'm kidding.  You need to see for yourself.

The rides may be no Magnum but you also never need to budget two hours of time to wait in line.  I've never waited longer than 30 minutes to ride a coaster at Kennywood.  So not only can you ride your favorite rides MORE than once you can eat more park food because it's super duper cheap! And it tastes better too!

I need to tell Kennywood I've got the best new money maker for them...they need a park pass that is just for people who want to go eat park food and not ride.  Then they'd really rake in the dough and could maybe even build some new and improved coasters with the extra cash!  No worries for those of you who are still riders, these foodies won't be taking up a spot in your coaster line :)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake: Easiest Thing I've EVER Baked!

On 4th of July Tommy and I were talking about dessert (we've been talking about food a lot lately...).  He is CRAZY about Pineapples.  So I ass-u-me'd that he had probably had pineapple upside down cake before.  When I asked him about it, he said he didn't know about it. WHAT?! The Pina lover didn't KNOW about it??? HELLO!  I didn't know how to make it and actually assumed it was going to be quite the task, but decided it was time we try!

Did a little research and found the most awesome, easy as pie recipe (who the H made up that saying anyways because making PIE is NOT easy....).  We'll say this was as easy as 1, 2, 3 since that's pretty dang easy!  SO here goes:

Pineapple Upside Down Cake that Rules!

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • sprinkling of coconut (optional)
  • 10 maraschino cherries
  • 20 oz can of pineapple chunks 
  • 1 box of yellow cake mix
  • Preheat the oven to 350.  Melt your butter in a little glass dish then in a 9x13 baking dish mix together your brown sugar and butter.  
  • In a separate mixing bowl mix your cake mix as the boxed directions say (probably with two eggs and water).  **For extra pineapple goodness you can drain the juice from your pineapples and use that in place of the liquid your cake mix asks for.  I did this and had to add about 1/2 cup of water to get the full amount needed.** 
  • Back to your baking dish sprinkle your coconut over your sugar/butter mixture then pour your drained pineapple over the sugar mix.  Add your cherries. Stef, I know....all the sugar and're having a heart was a good splurge.  
  • Pour your cake batter mixture evening on top of all this delish-ness.  Pop the dish into the oven and bake for 25-35 minutes. 
  • When it comes out of the oven let it cool for about 10 minutes then flip the cake onto a dish or plate so it's pretty.  THIS was the hardest part, folks if you can believe that!  

We couldn't wait until it was all the way cooled to eat some AND went ala mode.  I think the only thing I might have tried different was to do crushed pineapple next time instead of the chunks.  The pineappley bites were SUPER pineappley.  But I couldn't believe how well this turned out.  ANOTHER baking success by accident.  I never expect my baking adventures to turn out well.  

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Grilled Portobello Burger

This one gets credit to Tommy.  Recently, as some of you may have read, we had a weekend getaway planned that didn't end up happening due to some weird stormage.  With the money we ended up not spending on staying overnight somewhere we splurged on a new grill (and by "splurged" I mean, it was on super sale...come on peeps! You know I don't pay full price for anything!).

So, we're grillers now! And by "we" I guess I mean Tommy...although I like to think that I'd be good at it if I was given a chance.  Dudes just seem to think they are automatically awesome at grilling.  I'm gonna say some genius woman brainwashed her man into believing that, because she didn't want to be standing outside cooking food over a FIRE when it was 100 degrees outside.  Her trend caught on.

Anyways, this was terribly easy (from what I could see).  Trust me, Tommy's cooking skills are about as "awesome" as mine. Neither of us can cook if it isn't easy.

Grilled Portobello Burger
(Sidenote spellcheck! Get with the program.  When I'm saying Portobello I'm NOT trying to say PORTABLE! Sheesh. Update your vocab already.)


  • Portobello Mushroom Caps
  • Balsamic Vinagerette Dressing
  • Sliced Green Pepper & Onion with a little Olive Oil & salt and peppa
  • Mayo
  • Red Pepper Chipotle Sauce
  • (and buns DUH!)


  • FIRE IN THE HOLE! Er...the grill.  
  • While that bad boy is heating up (since grills are dudes), rub your balsamic vin on the underside of your shrooms.  Then place on the grill saucy side up.  Oo! Make sure you rinse those shrooms out really good before you put em on the grill!
  • Give em a couple minutes, poke em, move around a little (at least that's what Tommy was doing), flip it over.  Put your Peppers & Onions on the grill now.  Make sure they're placed on foil so you don't burn the crap out of them.  
  • For the topping we made Chipotle Mayo.  Just mix together regular Mayo with a pepper sauce or chipotle sauce.  We always find awesome finds like that in the weird foody section at TJ Maxx or Marshall's.  I know that sounds weird, but it's true!
  • Put your buns on your grill top rack last.  Just long enough so they get a little toasty.  Mmmm.  
  • Take everything off the flame, plate up and serve!
Oh yeah! We added a little spinach lettuce to these guys too.  Super Delish.  Tommy was proud, and I was mega stuffed :) 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Cinnamon Dolce Latte? Yes Please!

My favorite things about Saturday Mornings:
  1. Making a pot of coffee.
  2. Reading while drinking a coffee OR crafting some cards while drinking my coffee.
  3. Walking the dogs without all the crazy traffic drivers all over the place.
I had this chip on my shoulder for a while because lately, I've lost my knack for being able to sleep in.  Tommy and my sister Evie have NOOOO problem with this hurdle of mine, so instead of laying in bed STEWING about how I wish I could still be sleeping, I've started a regular Saturday routine. Getting up, coffeeing, walking the dogs and putzing.  I feel way more accomplished by the time everyone else in the house wakes up anyways!

I'm totally a sucker for a good coffee and wish that it could be in the budget to make a daily trip to a local coffee shop for a fresh brew, BUT it also makes me feel pretty thrifty when I'm able to satisfy my spiced up coffee urges without spending a dime extra.  

My most recent kick has been the Cinnamon Dolce Latte, which normally costs me $3.95 from the coffee shop for a SMALL by where I work. Crazy, right?  So I decided, time to learn to spice this up on my own and GUESS WHAT? YEP!  It's know if it wasn't I wouldn't have mastered it.  

Make Your Own Cinnamon Dolce Latte

  • Make a Pot of Coffee
  • In your awesome Earth Mug from Ohio Pottery, gifted to you by your Mother-in-Law, sprinkle a tablespoon or so of sugar into your cup (more or less to taste to your liking).  Add a couple shakes of ground cinnamon and stir the dry ingredients together.  
  • Add cream or milk (again, if you like!).
  • Pour your coffee into your mug AND stir!  
  • I've been adding a dollop of cool whip to the top of mine with an extra sprinkle of cinnamon on top.  One of my FAVE additions to a good cup of joe is pouring hot coffee over frozen vanilla yogurt...yeah THAT's what I said!  It's delish too!  
And you know what?  I like it way better than Starbucks!  Starbucks over milks and over sugars their flavored mixtures.  And this little coffee treat goes EXCELLENTLY with Banana Bread.  

Yep. Try THAT on for a Saturday Morning.  Now don't you wish YOU couldn't sleep in at my house??  

Friday, July 6, 2012

The All American Breakfast: Breakfast Pizza

Since it's that time of year when we're all EXTRA proud to be American, I thought I'd post a recipe for one of our new favorite breakfast treats, Breakfast Pizza!  What American wouldn't like the idea of combining pizza with scrambled eggs!?? That's what I thought!

As usual, since we all know I can't do anything complicated, it's SUPER easy.  Here's how:

Breakfast Pizza

  • 1 tube of Biscuits or Croissant Rolls
  • 1 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 lb. (I used less) of pork sausage browned
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 milk
  • any extra toppings you want on your breakfast pizza: onions, peppers, mushrooms, hashbrowns?
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  
  • Flatten your croissant roll or biscuit dough onto your pizza pan (I want one of those pizza stones really bad.  We'll add that to my Christmas wish list).  You want your dough to make somewhat of a resemblance of a pizza crust.  It doesn't have to be a perfect circle (although that is a great band!).
  • Cover your crust with all your toppings: Sausage, Onions, Tomatoes, Peppers, whatevs!  
  • Sprinkle the Cheese on top of all your goodies.  
  • In a separate bowl, scramble your eggs and milk (or whatever if you want to lighten the calories a sckosh).  Pour the egg mixture right on top of all your cheesy, topping goodness!
  • Pop it in the oven for 15 minutes (our oven sucks, so it took a little longer).  Then slice 'er up and serve!!!

This is one of those recipes that you really can't screw up, which is why I LOOOOVE it.  I added a little ground pepper and ground red pepper to the top for a little spice, but it really doesn't even need seasoning.  You could totally spice it however you like though.  Tommy smothered his in hot sauce cuz that's how he loves his eggs.  

If I had had hash browns or potatoes I totally would have shredded some of those bad boys up and covered this yumminess with breakfast potatoes too, but I was working with limited ingredients on my morning whim!  Let me know how you spice yours up & ENJOY!!!!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Book Review: For One More Day

Ok for once, I won't let my book review be a total spoiler.  This book was a quick, easy read that gives you these emotions that force you to reflect on your own relationships with your family.  I kept being reminded of a verse that my stubborn head finds easy to forget: "Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry." - Ephesians 4:26

In this book the main character is basically given a second chance to reconcile some of his life's shortcomings.  This book, for me, was a reminder to not bank on getting that second chance.  I wanted to call my parents as soon as I was done reading.  

While reading this book I thought of some of my own life's parallel's.  Mitch Albom creates a beautiful story of a parent's sacrifice for her son to be happy and well.  I realized my parents have done that for me my entire existence and still do today even though I'm a grown adult.  

I can only hope that someday I'm as much of a parent, to my someday kids, as my parents have been to me.  My favorite little blurb from the book was when the main character is walking with his mother in the woods.  They come to a tree that she had carved "PLEASE" into.  It was her prayer to please take care of her kids and provide for them throughout their lives on earth.  The mother describes that the trees spend all day looking up at God, so who better to send her prayers with than the trees?  What a pretty idea:

Not necessarily categorizing this book as a must read, but it's definitely quick.  So if you finish a book and are needing a good in-betweener book THIS IS IT!  (and YES! I paid $1.50 for this book at that AWESOME Penn State Book Fair Fundraiser!)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Dear Amazon, I Love You!

My husband is definitely the technology geek of our dynamic duo.  It was about two years ago that he started talking constantly about all these different e-readers.  He reads a TON more than I do and would totally benefit from having all his books in one cozy corner.

After hours of research he was determined to answer the ultimate debate: Nook vs. Kindle?

He had many pros and cons of both sides and decided the benefits of the Nook outweighed the Kindle. Tommy has now been a proud owner of a Nook for about a year and a half.  I did my fair share of dabbling in the Nook to read a few books.  I'll admit, it was indeed great.  So after talking about how cool I thought e-books were,  it was about a year later that I was given the incredible gift of a Kindle!  I had my very own e-reader.

Now, I'm not here to discredit the Nook by any means.  We've never had any problems with the Nook and still continue to love the Nook for saving us from adding MORE books to our limited bookshelf space.  But I AM going to tell you about my incredible Amazon experience that would keep me from ever swaying to another e-reader for the years and years to come.

Tommy & I usually end our days with quiet reading time in our room before we fall asleep.  We also usually end up making several trips to the bathroom to empty the tank before we call it a night.    I had gotten up to go to the bathroom and my sweet little kindle slipped under my pillow in our bed.  Of course our furry baby, Sheldon, had no idea my device was there and took a quick hop up onto our bed to greet me with his fluffiness when I returned.  When I pulled out my Kindle it had this crazy little spider web crack right in the middle of the screen.  I wanted to be mad, but how can you be mad at this face?

So, for once, instead of getting irritated and worked up, I waited until morning and called Amazon Customer Support.  I had a knot in my stomach while the phone was ringing and I waited for someone to answer my call.  I had already read that these cracks probably can't be repaired...From the moment my favorite customer service rep, Dominique, answered the phone I knew everything was going to be all right!  I explained to Dom what happened and he said there was NO WAY that impact should have cracked my screen and that they would have my Kindle replaced within 3 business days...WHAT?!  A BRAND NEW Kindle???  I was almost crying I was so happy.  Three days later a package arrived on my doorstep no questions asked.  The only disclaimer here was that my Kindle was still within one year of it's original registration date.  But still!!!  I couldn't believe it.

So Amazon, I must say...I'm your poster child for life.  I love you and will recommend your Kindle and any spawn of Kindle until you create something more masterful.  If you too, are on the fence about which e-reader way to sway, let THIS post be your determining factor in helping make your decision. KINDLE ALL THE WAY!

Monday, July 2, 2012

No Power? No Problem!

This past weekend was supposed to be a romantic getaway for Tommy & I since he typically works every weekend while I sit at home stewing my next blog posts.  We only had a weekend to getaway, so we weren't planning an excursion too far from Pittsburgh.  We did some searching for somewhere in the mountains or near some body of water within a 2-3 hour drive.  We ended up booking a getaway at the Riverside Retreat in Elkins, WV.

Riverside Retreat is this cute little cottage in the middle of no where.  Both of us were also extra pumped to find out that Riverside Retreat was pet friendly for a SUUUUPER minimal fee.  AWESOME!  The pups are coming along for the trip.

So we hop on the road after a long week of work and school, and were ready for our much needed weekend getaway!  As soon as we hit Washington, PA (which is seriously JUST outside of Pittsburgh) the storm clouds start rolling in.  We didn't think too much of it other than looks like we'll be relaxing INSIDE the cabin this weekend rather than outside.

As the skies got greener and greener and the wind was blowing harder we started to get a little nervous during the drive.  OF COURSE there was construction EVerywhere...which also meant these huge road signs had blown all over the road.  Note to self -- you can't see the reflectors on the road signs when they are laying on their side in the middle of the interstate.  We were in the middle of the worst storm DRIVING!  I kept being reminded of the movie Twister, which Tommy was very vocal about disliking.  I, on the other hand, was a huge lover the of the movie.  I couldn't help but think of this scene from Twister.  Every town we drove through had no power AT ALL!  It was so scary.

We were trying to reach the Beardslee's House.  They owned the cottage and we had agreed to meet them at their house, which was just down the road from Riverside Retreat.  We had never met them before, but they seemed nice on the phone.  We tried to call them on the way to let them know the roads were scary, there were no traffic lights, street lights, we were running behind schedule.  But we got a busy power at their house either.

FOUR HOURS later, we arrived at what we believed was the Beardslee's home.  We were greeted in this crazy rain storm/debris disaster by a small man holding a candlelit lantern and an umbrella, Paul Beardslee.  We were welcomed into their home and his wife Anne also couldn't have been kinder.  They informed us the cottage was not accessible due to debris and also had no power...the water runs from electricity.  SO not even a flushing toilet or running water. Um...NOW what?!

They invited us to spend the night in their home.  We didn't really have much choice having the dogs with us and being hours away from Pittsburgh.  So we took them up on the offer.  We quickly learned their house was a former Bed & Breakfast which made it a little more comfortable of a stay than just spending the night in a stranger's bedroom.  Tommy and I kept looking at each other like IS THIS REAL LIFE??  We woke up the next morning thinking we'd be able to head down to the cottage.  When we learned there was still no power and they weren't expecting any for another 4-5 days we decided we'd just make a day trip/long drive BACK to Pittsburgh.  The Beardslee's ended up being some of the kindest people ever.  They made the best blueberry pancakes in the world AND fresh brewed coffee...try doing THAT without power. Now that's what I call hospitality!!

We were able to drive down the Riverside Retreat to take a peak so we can see what awesomeness we're getting ourselves into the next time we go back to Elkins.

It was beautiful!  We can't wait to go back.  The Beardslee's were so incredibly nice.  That situation, these days, could have ended so many different ways.  We are so glad that it ended up the way it did.  We decided since the next morning it was such a nice day outside (just powerless) that we'd take the long way back to Pittsburgh and make a day trip out of it.  So we went through more of the Monongahela National Forest.  It was beautiful.  We stopped at Blackwater Falls:

Isn't it awesome looking?  It surprisingly reminded us of El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico (I'm rolling my "r's" when I'm saying that to you.   So we kept driving.  We had no cell service, which was ALSO awesome.  We seriously kinda loved it.  I mean can you remember the last time you had to use a road map to find your way home instead of a GPS!? 

Our hoo-rah getaway ended up turning into a powerless delight.  We had a great little road trip.  Wished we could have had more time out of town, but it was a great trip overall.  We can't wait for our take-two weekend in the Mon Forest at Riverside Retreat.  

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Only ONE Dirty Dish: Banana Bread

Historically I've been known to be a bit of a baking failure.  All my friends and family can vouch for many of my baking disasters.  My annual Thanksgiving Pumpkin Roll has made its yearly debut since 2004 and its been edible AND presentable once (technically twice, but I discount the time that I was spoonfed my steps by my Mom. Her Pumpkin Rolls rule...)  I've discovered where I go wrong, though:

  1. My Mom & My Aunt are incredible cooks/bakers and I've watched both of them, my entire life, just dump things into bowls, mix, bake and everyone DEVOURED their delights.  It looked so easy.  
  2. I HAAATE doing dishes.  So when I'm baking I tend to say to myself "Yeah, that looks like 1 Tsp. of BAKING SODA!" and just pour baking soda into the mix. Then I have one less dish to wash. Seriously guys, I know what you're saying "you're annoyed by dirtying a TEASPOON!?"  I don't think that's the thought process that goes through my head in the moment, but I guess the answer is YES! Haha!
Since learning this about myself I've found that my few baking successes tend to lie in recipes with a short list of ingredients, which translates in my mind to less dishes.  This way my brain can be fooled into believing I'm not setting myself up for a grueling clean up afterwards.

This week's baking attempt ended in great success, so I thought I would share.  I was inspired to find a short recipe for Banana Bread after watching my three bananas get VERY overripe.  Thank goodness I did, because they aided in one of my best baking adventures.

Banana Sour Cream Bread
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp. of ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs (I actually used 1 egg and 1/4 cup of applesauce as a substitute for the second egg -- I think it makes it more moist)
  • 8 oz. sour cream
  • 1 tsp. of vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. of salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. of baking soda
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

  • Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.  Grease 2 pans 5x10. In your one and only large mixing bowl mix together 1/4 cup white sugar and 1 tsp. of ground cinnamon.  Sprinkle this into the bottom of your greased baking dishes and shake it around so they are covered (this will stick to the bottom of your bread for an extra sweet, bottom almost like a crust.  I also sprinkled walnuts on the bottom of the dish (I didn't have 1/2 to mix into the batter so I just crushed 'em up really good and sprinkled it in with the sugar and cinnamon).
  • In THAT SAME large mixing bowl combine sugar, eggs, sour cream, vanilla extract and cinnamon.  The mix in your salt, baking soda and flour.  Stir in walnuts if you choose.  Divide into your two greased, sugared pans.  
  • Bake for 1 hour, until a toothpick comes clean out of the center.  
Told ya! One dish!  Technically you have two pans to wash after you finish off the bread.  But you don't have to wash those before you enjoy a taste.  

I also thought it would be an extra delish treat to have my warm banana bread for breakfast with a Cinnamon Latte.  I'll post that next!