Quinoa is a superfood packed with nine amino acids making it a complete protein. Although this is common in meats, plants do not typically contain complete proteins. Quinoa comes most commonly in red, black and white. Quinoa has a nutty taste and the white cooks the fluffiest with a more rice-like texture.
I frequently substitute quinoa for meat, as well as rice. Give your family a healthier alternative and more energy!!
Superfood Quinoa Eggplant Involtini
(Inspired by Mary Ann Esposito of Ciao Italia)
2 Medium eggplant, slices 1/4 inch thick
1/2 cup quinoa
1-1/2 cup water
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
2 tbsp. Aroma seasoning by Ciao Pittsburgh (OR 1 tsp. oregano, 1 tsp. basil, 1 tbsp.parsley)
2 tbsp. Olive oil
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Bring water to a boil in a saucepan and add quinoa.
Cook on low heat until water is absorbed.
Add tomato paste, spices, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Mix well.
Coat a baking sheet with olive oil, place eggplant slices on sheet and brush tops with olive oil.
Bake 15 mins. or until eggplant is softened.
Let cool and stuff with quinoa mixture. (Place mixture in the middle and roll.) You will be surprised by the malleability of the eggplant after being baked.
Coat a casserole dish with olive oil. Place rolls in a single layer, drizzle olive oil on the tops, and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Take foil off for the last 5 minutes.
Serve as a side dish or with a salad or vegetable!
Liebster is a German word meaning “sweetest, kindest, sweatheart,” and a Liebster award is passed along to a new blogger! The nominator chooses a blog that is new, sweet, charming, and intriguing, in an attempt to get to know the blogger behind the blog better! The idea is that the award will move through the blogging community like a chain letter. I have been nominated by the beautiful and talented Bethany at http://www.saltyblonde.com
Thank you my salty blonde friend!
11 Randoms About Me:
1. I am a mom of 2! Brady is 5 and Bella is 3!
2. Most days, I would rather cook than go out.
3. That being said, I could eat Mexican food everyday of my life, for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert.
4. I met my husband while eating breakfast bagel sandwiches in the cafeteria of our office building. Food=Love!
5. I have never been able to replicate that exact breakfast sandwich. A warm bagel, not toasted, with super fluffy scrambled eggs, crisp almost burnt bacon,and a gooey cheese sauce that most definitely came from a generic large can. Fantastic!
6. I love to put outfits together, especially for others. I’m a good stylist if you ever happen to need one ; )
7. I am a bit OCD. I can’t relax or go to bed with a mess, a dirty dish in the sink, or the worst!! a clean dishwasher to unload.
8. I love Pittsburgh; shopping in the Strip District, the restaurants, the vibe.
9. I am the oldest of 5, which makes me the caretaker, the advice-giver, and the one who ensures everyone has enough to eat! (Plus leftovers)
10. I gained 75lbs. and 65lbs. with my pregnancies. Usually I weigh right around 100 lbs. I would eat the tops off of a dozen cupcakes driving 3 blocks.
(Not sharing a photo…ever!!)
11. I am humbled by this award and thrilled to be sharing my love of food with you!
Here are Bethany’s question to me and my answers:
1. Fave restaurant?
Right this minute it is Matteo’s in Lawrenceville! When I was there for Pittsburgh Restaurant Week, I had a dish I can’t stop thinking about…. The Porcini Cappelletti. It is amazing!
2. How did you meet your husband?
Funny how I chose this for one of my randoms. Over breakfast sandwiches!
3. Biggest Fear?
4. Celeb crush?
We all have our lists, don’t we?! David Beckham
5. Heels or Flats?
Heels. Being 5’2″, I dont feel like people take me seriously unless I am wearing high heels, but a perfect high wedge will do.
6. Any beauty trend you wish you could try?
Can you try botox/ fillers and never go back? I know I’m only 29 ; ) but I’m sure eventually I will need something.
7. Beach or CIty?
I love the sun! I actually begin to relax when I’m laying in a lounge chair with a good book, but the best restaurants seem to be in city!
8. Best Vacation Spot
We honeymooned in Aruba and it had everything! Beach, resorts, restaurants, shopping (Aruba had just opened a new Louis Vuitton store while we were there! And I got to pick out my wedding gift from Kevin ; )
9. Fave Movie?
I am not a movie person!
10. Biggest accomplishment?
Raising our two beautiful kids!
11. Favorite month?
December! We entertain all month! Baking, Cooking, cocktails, family and friends! It’s the best!
I am nominating the gorgeous and very talented Amy Wilson of http://www.amywilsonphotography.com, a photography blogger!
Amy, here are your questions:
1. If you could visit any country in the world, where would you go?
2. Solid cream cheese or whipped?
3. If you could go back and change one thing in your past, what would it be?
4. Where is your favorite driving distance travel destination and why?
5. Favorite magazine?
6. What does your favorite go-to outfit look like and how long have you had it?
7. Walking or running?
8. Did you eat wings with your husband while dating him?
9. What is your favorite sport? Team?
10. What is your #1 dish to bring to a party? Recipe?
Back to school for a mom of a preschooler and a half-day kindergartener means pick ups and drop offs all day long. Other than 4pm-5pm, there is little time to prep and cook dinner! Oh yeah, and on Mondays with baseball at 4:30 and dance at 5, there is absolutely no time!
On these busy days, a crockpot meal is a perfect option! And Mexican is healthy and super easy in the crockpot! Throw in frozen chicken or beef, pork, with the ingredients that you have onions, peppers, corn, beans, taco seasoning, salsa, etc. Let it cook for the day and your crockpot mixture is ready to be stuffed into fresh tortillas!
1 lb. Frozen boneless chicken (use any meat or no meat!)
1 35oz. can whole tomatoes
1/4 cup taco seasoning (you can substitute chili powder)
1/2 cup salsa
1-2 bell peppers, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 can black beans
1 8oz. bag frozen corn
10 of your favorite tortilla shells
For extra spice, add 1 tbsp. Of cayenne pepper and 1-2 tbsp. Red pepper flakes and/or chopped habanero peppers.
Additions: Making burritos? Add quinoa or rice-1 cup uncooked.
Throw it all in and cook all day 8 hours + on low or 4-6 hours on high!
Chicken and pork will shred easily with a fork.
Chop fresh tomato, lettuce.
Top with sour cream, shredded chihuahua cheese and guacamole.
The ingredients can vary based on your family’s preferences!
London broil is actually the preparation of a cut of meat, not the name of a cut of meat. The definition? To sear a cut of meat and serve medium rare sliced on a diagonal against the grain. The one I bought this week was labeled London Broil Top Round. Thus, the misconception that the cut of meat is london broil.
London broiled meat looks beautiful on a plate, and is sure to wow your guests when entertaining. Serve anything from sautéed vegetables to corn on the cob! Anything goes!
London Broil Tips and tricks:
The meat you choose for london broil should be at least 1-1/2 – 2 inches thick.
The marinade should be a tenderizing marinade just in case the cut of meat is on the tough side.
Giving the meat a london broil requires a high heat broil for approximately 5 minutes on each side to produce the medium rare center. If the heat is too low, or it is cooked for too long, the meat will overcook.
Slice the meat against the grain on a diagonal and serve.
1.5 lb. 1-1/2 – 2 inch top round cut labeled London Broil
1/2 cup Worchesterschire sauce
1/2 cup red wine
3 cloves roasted garlic finely chopped
Place the fat trimmed meat in a Ziploc bag with all ingredients for 1-3 hours.
Place meat 3-4 inches under broiler and broil for 5 minutes.
Flip and broil for an additional 5 minutes.
(The same method can be used on a grill. However, the temp must be high 375-400 on the grill and it requires close attetion as to not overcook the meat.)
Remove and let the meat sit for 5 minutes.
Slice in a diagonal against the grain.
Serve with your favorite sides!
Reference: From Julia Child’s Kitchen 1975 Julia Child
Don’t mess with my sauce! For those of us who make homemade pasta sauce, more than likely, we are in agreement about one thing: Our sauce is the best sauce. Whether it’s grandma’s recipe, Giada’s recipe, or from the internet ; ), we take possession and will defend our sauce anyday, anytime. Back up.
Ok, maybe too strong.
So many different recipes and ingredients all yield a great sauce! From crushed tomatoes, whole tomatoes, and San Marzano tomatoes, to veggies, meat, and spices, there are many different types of sauce and cooking variations.
I get many questions and comments regarding sauce do’s and dont’s. The latest question is “Should I brown my meat before putting it in the sauce?” Great question!
I don’t brown…but there are great reasons for both methods! Ground meatballs, Italian sausage, pork, or ox tail, can all be put directly into the sauce raw as long as you are cooking the sauce until the meat is cooked. I cook my sauce for approximately 4-6 hours.
Here are 5 observations I have made after trying both methods:
1. I love putting my round meatballs into the sauce and having them come out round! I have tried browning meatballs and it caused some kind of cone head problem. My meatballs ended up like triangles.
2. Cooking raw meat in the sauce for 4-6 hours creates the yummy tender tiny bites throughout that surprise our palates.
3. The carmelaization during browning will help hold together the meat as it cooks in the sauce.
4. Browning adds flavor and texture to the meat.
5. The fat can be drained after browning. Shhhh! (The fat adds and irreplicable flavor!!)
Of course, both methods are great! I encourage you to try them, get creative, and don’t forget to add fresh grated Parm!
Pittsburgh Restaurant Week (PRW) brings the ‘Burbs to the ‘Burgh! Seriously, what an amazing excuse to trek to the city for course meals at Pittsburgh’s best Restaurants priced from $20.14- $35.14? You still have Friday and Saturday, and you can still snag reservations at Altius, Bigham Tavern, and Pino’s, to name a few!
I had the opportunity to attend the Pittsburgh Food Bloggers dinner at Tamari Lawrenceville Tuesday night! Great meeting Pittsburgh’s foodies! I met the fabulous Brian McCollum, PRW’s founder and organizer. Great idea, Brian! Also a great idea? Tamari’s Jalapeno Margarita! I highly recommend trying this unique, refreshing summertime drink!
Here is the Pittsburgh Restaurant Week link:
Matteo’s Lawrenceville Wednesday night was perfect! Yes, Everything was perfect!
I do not eat Italian food out, so I figured we would have a pretty good meal, fun to be out on a Wednesday, when in Rome, right? Nope! Perfectly al dente, beautiful textures and tastes, homemade tiramisu…
Here are a few photos! (The Matteo’s experience is getting its own blog post after I visit again! Stay tuned!)
Enjoy, Pittsburgh Restaurant Week!
3615 Butler Street
3519 Butler Street
It is hard to miss the small crowd gathering on the sidewalk as the oysters are being shucked at 2106 Penn Ave in the Strip District. Open garage doors, a long fully stocked bar, undersea cartoons painted on the walls, and warm inviting smiles make Luke Wholey’s restaurant almost impossible to walk by without a little taste.
An avid adventurer and fisherman, Luke Wholey’s dreams exceeded sales and prep work at the family’s Strip District grocery store, Wholey’s. After working on a commercial salmon fishing boat in Alaska, Luke found himself behind a large grill in front of the family grocery store grilling fresh fish for Pittsburgh. As his skills as a chef outgrew the outdoor grill, Luke leased a great spot and Luke Wholey’s Alaskan Grille was born.
After a short meeting with Luke, I knew his restaurant would be the perfect fish week finale! He catches and prepares the freshest seafood in very unique ways. Wild Bill from The Deadliest Catch has frequented the restaurant this summer! The best part is that Luke loves explaining what you are eating, where is comes from, and why he prepares it the way he does. Let’s face it, when it comes to fish, I need solid explanations from an expert
Luke chose one of his favorites, a yellowtail collar appetizer as the first bite. I never would have ordered this on a menu myself!
My party ordered the Seared Ahi Tuna, the Thai Chili Catfish Bites, and the Lobster Bisque French Fries to start!
The entrees we shared were the Shrimp Volcano, the Crab Stuffed Sockeye Salmon, and the always comfortable Fish ‘N Chips with added fried shrimp and scallops!
The salmon dish was a beautiful bright color. Luke explained that the bright red flesh color is indicative of the sockeye salmon variety. The adult spawner sockeyes turn a bright red color when migrating.
The Shrimp Volcano as well as the lobster bisque french fries featured the reataurant’s lobster bisque. Delicious, dark, and dippable, the soup did not disappoint!
For dessert, Luke Wholey’s Alaskan Grille serves A.Ward’s cheesecakes! A favorite of one of Pittsburgh’s favorites, Christina Aguilera! I was lucky enough to have one of A.Wards limoncello cheesecakes for my birthday this year! Also my favorite!
Visit Luke Wholey’s Wild Alaskan Grille! Prepare to learn something about fish and be wowed by the food! Enjoy!
Luke Wholey’s Wild Alaskan Grille
2106 Penn Ave. in the Strip
This is the last dish I will be cooking for fish week! It’s Luke Wholey’s tonight for the fish week grand finale. Cool, right?
I call this dish linguini clams because there is no actual pasta sauce to scoop on top. The linguini soak up the liquid, and the clams, chunks of tomato, pieces of onion, herbs, and grated Parmesan cheese stick to the linguini. In my opinion, this is a perfect linguini clams. Much different than a bowl of pasta with a traditional marinara and added clams.
I say no shirt required because we have rookie pasta twirlers that splatter sauce everywhere and eat in their underwear ; )
Linguini Clams Ingredients:
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, pressed
1 small onion
1 35oz. can San Marzano tomatoes
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 lb. bag Pana Pesca baby clams
1 tbsp. chopped basil
1 tbsp. chopped rosemary
1 tbsp. chopped thyme
1 lb. linguini noodles (I actually use fettuccine noodles. They are a little thicker than linguini noodles and cook to a perfect al dente bite… Shhh!)
Freshly grated parmesan cheese
Heat oil in your biggest,deepest pan.
Add onions and sauté until they begin to look translucent.
Add garlic and heat.
Add tomatoes, herbs, chicken stock and mix well.
Meanwhile, bring salted water to a boil in a stockpot for the linguini.
Add linguini and cook according to package or until al dente approximately 7-9 minutes.
Add clams to sauce pan and cook while linguini is boiling. Clams will cook within 10 minutes.
Drain the linguini and add slowly into the sauce pan while mixing well.
Coat the linguini until your linguini/clam ratio is satisfactory.
I absolutely love fish tacos, any kind of tacos, and I’m always searching for the best! Between Penn Ave Fish Company’s fish tacos and Edgar’s Taco stand’s Carne Asada tacos, I am a happy girl.
I eat some form of taco every time I’m in the Strip District! (And Penn Mac olives and cheese and La Prima coffee and Colangelos pizza and Pittsburgh Popcorn Company) Yikes!
Anyway, every fish taco is different; made with different fish, cooked plain or spicy, stuffed with lettuce or cabbage, and the list goes on. Penn Ave Fish Company uses a variety of fish, boiled in onion water, totally spicy, stuffed with cabbage, topped with tomatoes…and they are delicious!
I visited my fish mongers at Penn Avenue Fish Company and told them, for Fish Week on the blog, I wanted to make amazing fish tacos like the ones they make everyday! They chopped fresh grouper, salmon, and tuna, ready to cook. This saved me the fish choosing process, of which I am totally clueless, and the chopping time for sure! This is why you need a good fish monger!
Penn Avenue Fish-ish Fish Tacos
(makes 6ish tacos)
1-1/2 lbs. chopped tuna, grouper, and salmon
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tbsp. taco seasoning
4 oz. sour cream
1/2 cup chunky medium salsa (I used Ortega)
2 tbsp. Sriracha sauce
2 cups shredded cabbage
1 chopped tomato
6 tortilla shells
Fill a pot with water and chopped onions.
Bring to a boil.
Cook until the chopped fish floats (5-8 mins, not long!)
Remove fish with a slotted spoon to drain water.
Place fish in a mixing bowl and coat with taco seasoning while warm.
Mix together the sour cream, salsa, and sriracha in a small bowl.
Fill the tortilla shells with shredded cabbage, tomatoes, fish and sauce! Sprinkle some cilantro!