food · life · through my camera lens

Our new city

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Last night we went into the city of Pittsburgh to see Nitro Circus. We are really enjoying IMG_20180622_102302_113these trips into the city. Just like here we lived outside the city in Orlando, but we didn’t go into the city of Orlando that often. Actually most things that people associate with the Orlando area actually aren’t in Orlando itself. The city of Orlando is rather small as far as cities go. There is a lot to do in the Orlando area, but the city itself didn’t hold as much to see and do as bigger cities.

The unique thing about the city of Pittsburgh is that even though it has the attractions and appeal of a big city, there is a lot to it that has more of a small city appeal.

IMG_20180621_204424Last night we were on the banks of the Monongahela River. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the city is surrounded by three rivers. The Monongahela (refereed to as the Mon by locals) is the south of the city. We were in an area called the South Side Flats, this is still in city of Pittsburgh, but the outside of the downtown area. During Nitro Circus we were looking across the Mon into the downtown area.

I love the bridges that you see around Pittsburgh. As I mentioned the downtown area is surrounded by rivers, that means you have to cross bridges to get downtown. While I’m not a fan of the traffic you find on these bridges, I love taking pictures of them.

We already have plans to head back to this new area we discovered. We want to ride the incline, go on a duck boat tour and just hang out near the rivers. We look forward to checking out other sections of the city to see what else our new city has in store for us. I know we will continue to enjoy our new home, town and city for years to come.

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family · food · through my camera lens · Uncategorized

Meatballs and weekday sauce

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When I was growing up, it seemed like a majority of the friends my brother and I had were Italian. We on the other hand do not have a drop of Italian blood in us. But that never stopped us from enjoying Italian foods! I love anything in red sauce, who doesn’t? I would be very happy if you gave me a bowl of red sauce and a loaf of Italian bread… yum!

Well last night we decided to have meatballs. We had purchased a french baguette at the store on Monday and we didn’t want it to go stale before it was consumed. Blake told me over the weekend he wanted to help with the cooking this week, so I had shown him Alton Brown’s Chicken Parmesan Balls recipe. We decided this would be the meatballs we make this time around. I typically make the meatballs from this recipe anytime I make meatballs. P1080320

The boys decided they would both help make dinner. Blake helped make the meatballs. He measured and mixed and then formed the meatballs while I cooked them in the cast iron skillet. Colby made the sauce almost completely on his own.

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Chicken Turkey Parm Balls

  • 3 oz panko bread crumbs
  • 4 oz parm cheese (I used a combination of parm and asiago since I didn’t have enough parm)
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp EVOO
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning mix (dried herbs not salad dressing)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 4 oz of fresh mozzarella
  • weekday spaghetti sauce (see below)
  • Heat oven to 400
  1. mix 1/2 oz of panko and 1 oz parm cheese in a small bowl and set aside
  2. combine chicken, egg, 1 Tbsp oil, bread crumbs, parm cheese, basil, garlic powder, Italian seasoning and salt in a large bowl. (use your hands it’s your best kitchen tool!)
  3. use cookie scoop to create equal size balls
  4. heat 1 Tbps oil in pan.
  5. brown balls in the pan, work in batches and do not over crowd the pan. remove to paper towel lined pan/plate as you go.
  6. put balls into baking dish and cover with weekday sauce. sprinkle on reserved panko and cheese. top with fresh motzarella
  7. bake for 10 min or until the cheese is melted.
  8. serve however you want (in a roll, on pasta, just on a plate, eat it right out the pan…?)

Weeknight sauce

  • EVOO
  • 6 cloves of garlic – crushed
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried Italian seasoning (herbs not salad dressing mix)
  • 28 oz can San Marzano tomatoes
  1. heat oil in the pan (enough to coat the bottom of the pan
  2. add crushed garlic
  3. add remaining herbs
  4. heat until the garlic is starting to brown around the edges, making sure to continue to break up garlic if you didn’t chop it up
  5. add in the whole can of tomatoes
  6. let cook 5 min or so then begin breaking up the tomatoes (Colby used the wooden spoon then I used a potato masher) to the consistency you like your sauce

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This was really good. The boys did find the sauce a bit spicy. I think next time I’ll use 1/2 or 1/4 tsp of the red pepper flakes. I enjoyed the texture, taste and mouthfeel of these meatballs. I would make them bigger next time if I was making them for the subs. I tend to choose to make my meatballs smaller so I know they cook through and they also do not need as much binder then. I will certainly be making both the meatballs and sauce again since everyone enjoyed them.

 

family · food · through my camera lens

Breakfast…Quesadillas? Recipe By Blake

Hi everyone, Blake here. Toady, I decided to have a breakfast burrito, and with a regular recipe and a bunch of dumb luck, I ‘created’ a new food item. Here it is….

Ingredients:

Two regular eggs

dash of water

Any decent slices of ham as needed ( I used off the bone ham from Giant Eagle.)

Any amount of slices of Colby Jack cheese as needed

Two taco-size tortillas

A little bit of butter

Equipment:

A grilled cheese or panini press

About a 6′ pan/skillet

A bowl, any size

Procedure:

Step 1: Crack the eggs in the bowl, then poke the yolk, preferably with a fork. Mix it around until it is all the same color. Pour the water into the bowl.

Step 2: Turn on the stove, and put on its highest heat setting. Move the butter around in pan/skillet until it dissolves.

Step 3: Pour the eggs in and then cook it until it’s fully cooked. Then have the wraps, ham and cheese out and ready.

Note: Here’s where this dumb luck came into place. We (myself and my mom) had turned the oven on, but my  skills on proportions weren’t so good, and we decided to do this:

Step 4: Take out the press and begin to heat it.

Step 5: While the press is heating, put cheese on the bottom of one wrap, then put ham on top of the cheese. Then, put the eggs in. After that, do vice versa of the ham and cheese, but putting ham first. Last, put the other wrap on top.

Step 6: Heat the quesadilla until desired, take it out, cut it, and enjoy!

If it ends out well, it should sort of look like this:

I tried it, and it was pretty good! Unlike this picture!P1080312

Happy cooking, and see you in my next blog, whenever that is!

-Blake

food · reviews · through my camera lens

Alton Brown’s Chewy Peanut Butter Cookie

P1080303When I went to the grocery store on Monday, they had a sign saying that Tuesday, June 12th was national peanut butter cookie day. That was enough incentive for me to bake peanut butter cookies. I mean who doesn’t love a good PB cookie?

So I decided to look in a few cookbooks I have and settled on Alton Brown’s Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies from his cookbook EverdayCook. The recipe starts by telling you that this is  “A one-bowl, no mixer cookie that’s also gluten free.” I hesitated at first, but decided to give it a go anyway…

Chewy Peanut Butter Cookie

  • 1 c. smooth Peanut butter (I used Recess’s peanut butter)
  • 1/2 c. light brown sugar packed
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  1. Heat oven to 350
  2. line cookie sheets with parchment paper (I used my silpats)
  3. put peanut butter and both sugars into a large bowl, beat together with a wooden spoon until fully incorporated
  4. add the egg, baking soda, vanilla and salt. mix until will combined
  5. roll dough into 1 oz balls (I used a cookie scoop)
  6. place 8 per cookie sheet (or whatever fits with space between for spreading)
  7. flatten cookie using a fork to create cross hatches
  8. bake for 10 min or until the cookies look dry and are just lightly browned
  9. cool for 2 min the sheet pan.

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Ok I will be honest these cookies turned out a lot better than I expected them to. The whole concept of cookies without flour just sounds totally wrong to me. But, they taste like peanut butter and sugar, and what could be better than that? I did have a slightly difficult time mixing the peanut butter and sugars together with the wooden spoon. I did get it to fully incorporate, but I think I’d pull out my hand mixer and make it go that much faster next time.

Richard and Colby both enjoyed these too. I didn’t send them into work with Richard because they only made about 14 of the size I made.  They are rather crumbly, which is odd since they do not have a dry mouth feel. I will certainly make these again!

 

food · life · through my camera lens

Happy Birthday Colby!

Today Colby turns 10 years old. He was the person who completed our family. So many people over the years have asked if Blake and Colby are twins or they try to tell us that the boys are alike, this could not be further from the truth. Colby is nothing like Blake. Colby is nothing like anyone else I know.

10 things you may or may not know about Colby!

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1: Colby feels with his whole heart. He loves nature, his friends, his family and so much more. He shows empathy in ways that even some adults wouldn’t understand.

2: Colby works on Colby time. He moves at his own pace in everything he does. While he learned to tell time at a young age this doesn’t matter to him, he will complete things when he wants to finish them.

3: Colby wants to become a scientist when he grows up and has had this goal for years now. For as long as I can remember he has said he is going to find a cure for cancer when he grows up. When Colby sets his mind to doing something he accomplishes it, it maybe on his time table (see #2), but he will do it.

4: Colby loves pasta, peanut butter, bacon, steak and many other things. He enjoys working in the kitchen, as long as he doesn’t have to clean up after himself. He has recently learned to enjoy pizza, french fries and chicken nuggets… it only took him 10 years to like typical kid foods

5: Colby is very creative. He loves to draw, write stories, build with Lego and so much more. He enjoys looking at something that is a known item and making it his own by changing colors, sizes or other variables.

6: Colby loves to do things with his dad. He loves learning to work with tools, help with yard work and just be around Richard.

P10503447: Colby enjoys math. He thinks about math in ways that would seem strange or certainly different to others. He loves to look at the problem and then create a variety of ways to solve it because one way is never enough.

8: Colby loves the ocean. His favorite animal has almost always been a dolphin. When he was younger we traveled to Tampa to see Winter and Hope, there we found a dolphin that they sponsored who’s name is Colby. This dolphin still holds a special place him his heart.

9: Colby doesn’t know there ever was a box. Colby sees the world through his own set of eyes and doesn’t like it when people expect him to see it any other way. He loves to see the world as fluid and ever changing and knows that he will change it as he goes forward in life.

10: Colby is Colby. From his crazy hair to his quirky personality he is his own person. It doesn’t matter if he riding his bike, drawing a picture, working on a science project, or hanging out with his friends he does it in his own way. When you get to know Colby you know he will make you smile just by being near him.

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Happy birthday dude! (I’ve been calling Colby “dude” since he was in first grade. It fits his personality and he will continue to be dude for as long as he tolerates this nickname) I’m proud to be your mom. Your dad and I are proud of everything you have accomplished in life, the person you’ve become and are excited to see the man you will be as you grow up. We love you!

family · food · life · through my camera lens

Baking and Tile Work… all in two days

Ok I guess I am continuing on the oops I didn’t post mode of late. Friday I went into full baking/cooking mode. I started the day by making homemade vanilla ice cream. I haven’t made ice cream since before started packing to move to PA.

When the ice cream was done, I baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies.P1080247

Then, I realized we didn’t have bread to use to have sandwiches, so I baked a batch of rolls.P1080250

While the cookies were cooling and the bread was rising, I started applesauce in the crock pot to go with the pork tenderloin we were having for dinner.

We then had lunch. After lunch I took the cooled cookies and the homemade ice cream and turned them into ice cream sandwiches. P1080253

Saturday was busy in a different way. We started the day with Richard and I heading to Lowes and the grocery store. We picked up lunch from the grocery store so that we could get to work on the back splash.

This was another long process. We had to go through and make sure that there wasn’t too much mastic between the tiles. This involved using a utility knife to cut out the extra mastic and there are a LOT of seams in this tile work. Then we sealed the tiles for a second time. When the seal was drying we went around and removed the tape and paper we had put up originally and re-protected the marble the best we could while still having the bottom of the tiles available for the grout to get into the seams.

Then we began grouting. This means mixing the grout. Wait 10 minutes. Apply the grout, which takes a while since you have to go over it over and over with the float to make sure you get it into all the groves, there are no air pockets and then make sure you take off enough so that it isn’t a pain to clean up in the next two steps.  Ok now wait 15-30 minutes for the grout to dry.

Next, you take a damp sponge and wipe off the excess grout. This was easy on the glass tiles, but the stone pieces… not so much! Both Richard and I were working on this and our arms were screaming when we finishes.

Then you wait! This time you give it an hour and you wipe everything down again with a clean damp rag.

Today we are going to have to go back and add the matching caulk to the bottom and edge of the tiles. Then we need to put the plates back onto the outlets and switches. We are planning on sealing the granite counters too since the ones under the tile are already empty.

Today, well we don’t yet know what else we are doing today. There is rain in the forecast so that will play a role in whatever plans we make.

Hope you are enjoying your weekend so far!

 

food · reviews · through my camera lens

Mixed Berry Corn Muffins

I had some blueberries that I needed to use up. Originally I was going to use blueberries and strawberries, but the strawberries went bad… I hate that.

So I found this recipe for Berry Cornmeal Muffins on All Recipes. After seeing that it had decent reviews, I decided to try it out.

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Mixed Berry Corn Muffins

  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2.5 tsp baking powder
  • 10 oz naturally flavored strawberry yogurt (I used Siggi’s strawberry)
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups of berries (I used 1 cup of fresh blueberries and 1 cup frozen mixed berries)

Preheat oven to 350

line muffin pan with liners

Sift together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and set aside 1/2 cup

Mix together yogurt, butter and egg

Add dry mixture to wet mixture and mix until just combined

coat berries in the 1/2 cup dry mixture to coat (I think you could get away with just using 1/4 cup)

Gently stir berries into mix

Scoop into muffin pan

Bake at 350 for 25 min

Enjoy!

I really liked these muffins. They are really moist for a corn muffin base. I would guess it is the yogurt that is in it. I personally liked when I hit a red raspberry in the one I tried, so I think the next time I make this I’ll just vanilla yogurt and red raspberries. It is an easy recipe to tweak to your flavor liking. P1080246

family · food · life

Is pasta a protein?

Mom, is my pasta protein? No, it’s a carb. But, I thought you said that gluten is the protein in wheat, so doesn’t that make pasta a protein. Ummm, Ummm, it’s carb that has some protein OK!?!

That was my conversation with Colby last night.

When I went back to work, one of the things that became the boys responsibility was making their own lunches. At the time, they had Sistema To Go Collection Lunch Cube Food Storage Container, 47.3 Ounce/ 5.9 Cup (2 Pack) Clear with Assorted Color Accents to pack their lunches. This is divided into three sections. They learned to pack a protein item into the large section, a fruit/veggie into one of the smaller and a junk into the third section. To this day, even though they don’t have these cubes anymore they still pack a protein (meal), fruit and junk in their lunch. So what constitutes a protein has often been and still continues a topic of conversation.

Over the years, the boys have taken to reading the labels of many food products. They look at the proteins, sugars and calories in the items they eat. They have learned that they need to increase their protein if they want to build muscle. They know that sugars tend to be empty calories.

While we don’t want them to feel they can’t have certain foods, we are trying to help them see how to pick certain foods in moderation. This doesn’t stop them from debating over whose food choices are better and typically who eats the better protein foods.

We still are working on what foods go into what food categories evidently, but hey at least they are thinking about food choices already, even if it is to challenge my responses.

**contains Amazon links, please read my disclosure statement**

food · life

Tuesday calls for cooking?

It’s Tuesday! Today is a cloudy, rainy, overcast day. We got a notice last week saying that they were doing work on the electric in the area and we would lose power from 8-1 today. Well, it’s 10:22am and the power is still on. I didn’t go to the grocery store or plan any other activities so that I was home today to deal with the dog. When the power goes out there are all kinds of things that make beeps and alarms going off, and Dixie doesn’t like noises like that.

So, originally we only menu planned through yesterday. Last night Blake suggested having pasta for dinner tonight. I decided to make the sauce to go with it too. We had burgers last week and I had purchased extra ground beef since it was on sale. I love being able to make my own sauce. Ground beef, onion, pepper, seasoning mixed with diced and crushed tomatoes…. meat sauce!

I also decided to bake cookies. I decided to make lemon lime cookies since I had a lemon and a lime in the fridge. I found a recipe I liked and ended up tweaking it a bit. I added in orange zest and change the extract with lemon and lime juices.

I think I’ll toss some ingredients into the bread machine and make rolls to go with dinner tonight. I decided on this recipe.

So I guess the fact that I’m waiting for the power to go off hasn’t stopped me from cooking/baking.

What is your go to item when you don’t have a meal planned? Do you make your own spaghetti sauces? Hope you have a great Tuesday!

food · life · reviews

Sir Pizza and Sorgels

Tonight we had decided to go out to eat. We decided to try a different pizza place. I had read about it in an article stating pizza places to try in the Pittsburgh area. So off to Sir Pizza we went. We ordered a large pizza, half pepperoni and half bacon. We also ordered an Italian Hoagie.

Blake was the only one who liked the pizza. Colby didn’t like the bacon, and if you know Colby you know that is an odd statement. Richard and I didn’t like the sauce they use. The crust was ok. It was really thin, but not really crisp. The sub was cut into 4 pieces. The first slices that Richard and I had were decent, but then when we went back to try the other slices they were soggy from the dressing they put on it. I ended up pulling the ham off my slice to give to Colby and then just ate the rest of the meat off the roll. It was certainly not worth the calories.

After we were done, we drove across the street to Sorgels. Sorgels is a family owned farm that has a garden center, grocery area, ice cream stand, deli, Natrually Sorgels (allergen free, gluten free and other products such as that) and a gift store. This is where we go to strawberry and blueberry pick in the summer and apple pick in the fall. We haven’t been there in quite a while. We decided to walk through the garden center. Then we went into the grocery area to their bakery where they bake all kinds of yummy things daily. We purchased peanut butter cookies for Colby, doughnuts for Richard and Blake, a brownie for Richard and I to split and two quick breads (blueberry and apple cinnamon).

After that, we went to the ice cream part and go ice creams. The four of us sat down and enjoyed our ice creams. It was nice to just sit and relax outside and enjoy having a sweet treat together. I got cinnamon bun ice cream, this was very tasty.

So while dinner was a flop, we did end up enjoying our time together and who doesn’t enjoy ended the day by eating ice cream?