Lemon Basil Squares!

I am my grandma. Lemon dessert obsessed. Of course bright lemon yellow is her favorite color…”the apple doesn’t fall too far” is too true. Spring brings it out in me. I crave lemon meringue pie, lemon salad dressings, lemon chicken!
Salads doused in lemon juice are the most refreshing spring/summer salads! I just made a beautiful Greek salad this week!


Lemon squares rank pretty high on the refreshing dessert list and are easy to make! My recipe makes a 9X13 pan, just sprinkle some powdered sugar, cut into squares, and enjoy a beautiful, delicious dessert! This time I added finely chopped basil for an element of surprise!

The addition of the basil’s green color added a crispness and a pop of color to the plain lemon squares. The flavor is incredible! Super sweet and lemony with a pop of savory! Delish!


Here is the recipe!

Lemon Basil Squares
(Makes one 9X13 pan)

2 sticks of butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour

4 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp. flour
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 1/2 tbsp. basil, finely chopped(1 tbsp. for sprinkling on top)
2 tbsp. Powdered sugar (also for sprinkling on top)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour 9X13 pan.

In a mixing bowl, combine softened butter, 1 cup sugar, 2 cups flour with a wooden spoon until well mixed.

Press mixture into bottom of a greased 9X13 pan.


Bake crust for 12-18 minutes until set and golden.

Meanwhile, whisk together filling ingredients.


Pour filling over baked base and return to the oven for 18-20 mins.

Let cool.

Sprinkle with remaining chopped basil and powdered sugar.


Enjoy the lemony deliciousness!

Pittsburgh’s Ramen Bar

Located in the heart of Squirrel Hill’s Forbes Ave. business district, Ramen Bar is just what its name suggests, a traditional Asian noodles and broth restaurant. Offering both dine in and take out service, Ramen Bar serves the city’s need for an intriguing Japanese -Asian influenced menu using the ramen technique.


Open now for about two years, Ramen Bar is the first of its kind to arrive in Pittsburgh. The atmosphere is modern Asian with a cool art cartoon of a character wrapped in noodles. With a BYOB policy, you can enjoy your favorite wines, maybe a nice cold Sapporo, corking fee free!


So what is Ramen?
The package you get at the store for 10/$1 that college kids live on for 4 years? Ummmm…no! Ramen Bar’s ramen is a much bigger version! The ramen base is a traditional broth. Thick chewy noodles and chunks of vegetables are added. At Ramen Bar you can add an egg or even a wonton to your enormous soup bowl.


I enjoyed the Takoyaki appetizer ($6.50), a seaweed salad ($5.50), and Kimchi Ramen noodles (9.75).  Takoyaki is round balls of octopus pan fried in a batter. The seaweed salad was amazing!
The ramen alone was a whole meal!! Next time I hope to master eating the Ramen with chopsticks. I made a hilarious attempt!




Definitely, a unique date night spot or a great place to catch up with friends! Stop by! You might love it!


Join A CSA! Make A Primavera!

Thinking produce? Us, too! We cannot wait for fresh, local vegetables! Have you ever thought of subscribing to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program?  Although the name suggests you need to roll up your sleeves and help farm along with others, the exact opposite is true… You pick up your box. Done.


Many farms near Pittsburgh offer CSA programs that include produce, eggs, cheese, and even meat.  A farmer who is part of the Pittsburgh Public Market family, Elliott Lengel of Lengel Brothers Farm, offers the community a fabulous CSA program out of Mercer, PA.

Lengel Brothers Farm- Mercer, PA
Lengel Brothers Farm- Mercer, PA


The Lengel Brothers Farm CSA program runs August through November, pick up locations include the Public Market in the Strip, and they offer a discount for members starting now! The program runs 14 weeks and the pricing is $120 for a quarter share, $200 for a half share, and $350 for a full share.  Members can pick your own items for you basket or get what you get! Elliott also bakes homemade breads and offers jams and many other condiments at a discount for members!

Pasta Primavera is one of my favorite, quick and easy healthy dishes! Originating from LeCirque in New York City, Pasta Primavera was discovered by accident when Mr. Maccioni and his family were asked to prepare dinner for a food tour in Canada.  Mr. Maccioni was forced to do a vegetable fridge raid and tossed it with pasta and fresh grated parmesan cheese.  When the guests asked what he called the dish he responded, “Pasta Primavera!”  The dish is not on the menu at Le Cirque these days, but the dish is made table side for those who ask.


Pasta Primavera

2 tbsp. basil olive oil …The Olive Tap 
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 small onion, chopped…Produce from Lengel Brothers Farm Market
1 zucchini, chopped 1/2 inch
1 cup snap peas, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 pint cherry tomatoes
2 cups fresh grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese…Pennsylvania Macaroni Co.
2 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
1 lb. dry or fresh pasta
salt/pepper to taste
extra fresh grated parmesan cheese
Heat olive oil in a large, deep frying pan.
Add garlic and cook until golden and softened.
Add vegetables according to cooking time. Longest first.
Add onion, zucchini, mushrooms, snap peas and cook until tender not mushy.
Meanwhile, throw in 1 lb. pasta and cook until al dente.
Drain well and toss with vegetables in the pan.
Add parmesan cheese and coat.
If too dry add a lithe bit more olive oil or a 1/2 cup chicken stock..
Throw in salt/pepper and basil.


For more information on Pittsburgh CSA programs Click Here!

NEW Market St. Grocery Store Opens Downtown Tomorrow!

Driving to McKnight Road, The Waterfront, or Eeek! Mt. Lebanon in rush hour traffic, all because the Strip closes at 4:30 and where else can you buy food?? It’s the downtown Pittsburgh grocery nightmare…


Downtowners know it well and Ralph Falbo is the superhero who took the old Ciao Baby restaurant location and turned it into a hot and trendy downtown grocery stop. With Vallozzi’s owners and Pittsburgh’s blessing, Market Square’s Market Street will house the first downtown grocery store in five years.

Maybe pick up some wine and cheese for the evening in Market St. Grocery’s wine bar!

Is it a grocery store? Like produce, pasta, cheese? Yes. With perks! Like a wine bar, and a French pastry shop…Yes! It needs to be as fabulous as downtown Pittsburghers!? Right? Hello!!


My favorite part of Market St. Grocery is the French pastry shop Gaby et Jules that sits against the front window. The colorful macarons and delicate pastries brighten the store! Perfect for dessert or a treat at the office, the Squirrel Hill based pastry shop is a beautiful and unexpected addition!

If you don’t feel like cooking Chef Michael Lamantia will have many prepared options.




What will the prices be like? I might pay $2 more not to sit in one hour of traffic. Would you?

Enjoy, Pittsburgh!

Market St. Grocery
435 Market Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

The stores hours are 7am-9pm. The wine bar will be open later.

Banana And Coconut Skinny Muffins Scream Summer!!

Sometimes we need an easy to make, low fat, healthy muffin… that reminds us of vacation! Because summer is so close we can taste it, literally. One of my favorite baking opportunities occurs when super ripe bananas are staring at me. I can’t help but think about the delicious possibilities!!


Usually a healthy muffin is hard as a rock, because of the wheat flour, and dry, because we take out all of the fat and sugars. These muffins are sweetened with honey and the natural sweetness of the super ripe bananas! A little brown sugar and cinnamon even out the sugar profile and add a pop of flavor! They taste totally tropical! Hmmm… maybe some rum next time 😉


Guilt Free and Fabulous! Here is the Recipe!

Banana Coconut Muffins
(Makes 12 muffins)

2 cups flour- 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 white or all white (If all whole wheat they will be hard)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 cup honey
1 tbsp. vanilla
2 super ripe bananas- smashed
1/4 cup almond milk or cow’s milk
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 cup shredded coconut + 2 tbsp. for sprinkling on top


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Grease and flour your favorite muffin tin. Mine is USA Pans! They are fabulous!

In a mixing bowl, sift flour, baking soda, light brown sugar, and cinnamon.


Add the honey, vanilla, mashed bananas, egg, and coconut.

Slowly and gently fold in the ingredients, breaking and chunks apart.

Add the milk. It will thin out the batter, but it will still be a nice, thick consistency.



Fill muffin tins 3/4 full.


Bake 15-17 minutes. Rotate pan and sprinkle with coconut after 10 minutes.


Bake until the toothpick test shows a clean toothpick. Insert into center to test.



Ham Vegetable Bean Soup!

Easy to make and a great way to use up left over ham, this ham and bean soup is filled with vegetables and chunks of sweet ham. Use your favorite beans! Not a bean fan? You can leave them out and have a hearty ham and veggie soup. The addition of chili powder, cumin, and a squeeze of Sriracha gives the soup a little kick!


When I make a ham we always have TONS of leftovers. I save the bone to make this soup, but it would be just as tasty with just leftover diced ham. Don’t worry if you don’t have the bone! The addition of more chicken or vegetable stock would make up for the missing bone broth.

Homemade soups are easy to freeze and easy to thaw! Perfect for dinner in a pinch!


Ham Vegetable Bean Soup
(Makes a lot!)

1 meaty Ham bone
1-1/2 cups ham diced into bite size pieces
1 cup celery, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
6 potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch chunks
2 tbsp. Olive oil
1 vegetable broth bullion cube and 4 cups of water
1 14.5oz. Chicken stock
1 32 oz. can crushed tomatoes with juice
1 16oz. bag 10 bean dry beans, pre-soaked or 3 cans of your favorite beans – kidney beans, canellini beans, pinto beans, etc.
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. Chili powder
1/2 tbsp. Cumin
Squeeze Sriracha to taste
Salt/pepper to taste

Heat olive oil on low in the bottom of a large stock pot.

Add garlic and cook until golden and softened – a few minutes.

Add vegetable bullion cube, chicken stock, and water.

Mix well until cube is completely dissolved.


Add the ham bone, Worcestershire sauce, and spices.

Cook for one hour on medium high heat.

Add diced ham, onions, celery, potatoes, tomatoes, and beans.

Cook an additional 2 hours.

Remove the ham bone. Scrape off any additional chunks of ham.



Serve as a meal or as a yummy starter!


Vegetable Lemon Garlic Quinoa!

Spring has Sprung!


Here in Western PA we are looking at warmer temperatures and hopefully no more snow!!! I look forward to cooking with Spring vegetables and making beautiful, colorful, healthy dishes. I think this was the longest winer vegetable season ever!

Ready for the pool?
Bathing Suits in less than 2 months! What A great reason to fill our bellies with healthy foods!

Quinoa is a favorite superfood, protein-packed seed grown in the Andes Mountains in South America. Packed with essential amino acids, quinoa is essential to many vegetarian and vegan diets. I often substitute quinoa for rice or pasta for an extra healthy dish!


Butternut Squash And Tomato Lemon Garlic Quinoa
1 cup quinoa
1-1/2 cup water
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups butternut squash, chopped
1 cup tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup parsley
1 lemon squeezed

Boil quinoa in water according to directions.

Meanwhile, Heat olive oil in a large pan.

Add garlic and cook until golden and softened (3-5mins)

Add butternut squash, tomatoes, garlic and cook until heated through.


Add drained quinoa.

Top with salt and pepper and stir.
Throw in parsley and squeezed lemon.

Mix well and serve!




Deliciously Deviled Eggs!

Deviled eggs are perfect as an app, finger food, and this time of year, eggs are all the rage!!


Is the most unhealthy ingredient the mayo? or the yolk?

One egg yolk has 5 grams of fat and 54 calories. Save on 50% of the calories by using nonfat Greek yogurt or nonfat cottage cheese to make up some of the yolk volume.

Obviously use a non-fat mayo or eliminate it all together and use greek yogurt or avocado.

Lets talk taste…Mustard snobs everywhere insist on using a dark mustard such as Grey Poupon in deviled egg recipes when yellow mustard is the perfect option. It has the tang needed to amp up the flavor.


Deliciously Deviled Eggs
(Makes 12 halves)

6 hard boiled eggs, peeled, halved, and yolks taken out
3 tbsp. light mayo, or greek yogurt
1-2 tbsp. yellow mustard
1 tbsp. sweet relish
1 tsp. paprika – 1/2 in recipe (1/2 tsp. for sprinkling on top)
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

Mash egg yolks in a small mixing bowl with a fork.


Add mayo or greek yogurt, relish, mustard, paprika, and cayenne pepper and mix well.


Spoon into the egg white centers, sprinkle with paprika.




Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Overnight Oats! Guest Post by The Almond Eater!

Today’s post comes from Erin of The Almond Eater blog, and is part of a special day of shenanigans from other Pittsburgh Bloggers.  You can see my post over on Yum Yum Pgh, where I share my homemade, easy, and delicious Pad Thai recipe!

Here is Erin’s Post!

Hi Parmesan Princess readers! Today I want to share my new favorite overnight oats recipe: Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Overnight Oats! After all, who doesn’t love a good oatmeal raisin cookie? Also, anyone who says cookies aren’t for breakfast is wrong.

I love overnight oats for 45 reasons, but the main reason is because they’re ready to go when I wake up in the morning, meaning no prep work is involved! This is great, especially mornings when I literally don’t have time to make breakfast—they’re the perfect grab-n-go option.

Oatmeal Raisin Overnight Oats 1


I tried overnight oats for the first time two years ago and it was love at first bite. I made them every morning for a very long time, until my body/taste buds were like STOP IT. Now, I try to eat a variety of breakfasts, but still include oats in the line up at least once a week. It’s all about balance :) If you’ve never had overnight oats before, they’re just like oatmeal only cold and the texture differs depending on how much milk you include. I personally don’t enjoy soggy/mushy oats (ew), so I don’t use a ton of milk in mine. HOWEVER, if that’s your thing, go for it—the flavor will be just as good.

Oatmeal Raisin Overnight Oats 2


These particular oats are only SEVEN ingredients, and if I’m being honest, you could probably get away with only using five if you don’t have all of the ingredients and don’t feel like running to the store (this happens to me every other day). I totally get it. If you doooo want to/have to leave out any ingredients, I’d suggest the nutmeg and/or vanilla. I don’t recommend it, but if you’re completely out, those things add to the flavor but they aren’t the core of the flavor…. if that makes any sense.

Whatever you do, you’re going to want to whip up these oats TONIGHT so you’ll have something to look forward to in the morning. And when I say “something” I mean and oatmeal raisin cookie in the form of oats. NOM.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Overnight Oats!
2 cups oats
2 cups almond milk
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cinnamon stick OR 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Combine ingredients in a bowl/mason jar and let sit for at least 6 hours. Typically, it’s easiest to prepare these the night before and let them sit in the refrigerator overnight (hence the name ‘overnight oats’.) Enjoy!

Oatmeal Raisin Overnight Oats 5


Thanks for reading—for more recipes and things that I find amusing, like The Almond Eater on Facebook or follow me in Instagram  Xoxo


Thank you, Erin! We can’t wait to try these oatmeal raisin overnight oats!

Rice Krispies Treats Easter Eggs! Adorable And Fun Treats!

Is it the crispy bite or the gooey yummy marshmallow we love so much about Rice Krispies treats? Loved by children and super easy to make, Rice Krispies treats can be made fun and festive with a drop of food coloring or an addition of colored sprinkles!


To make the colorful treats, divide the butter/marshmallow mixture into thirds and added yellow, green, and purple (red and blue) coloring. Then add the cereal, mix well, and mold into a nonstick coated plastic egg! These can be a sticky mess so be sure to also grease your hands!
Enjoy making these treats everyone will love!

Rice Krispies Treat Easter Eggs
(Makes approx. 30 1-1/2 inch Eggs)

6 cups Rice Krispies cereal
3 tbsp. butter
1 10 oz. bag mini marshmallows
food coloring

Melt butter in a saucepan over low to medium heat so it doesn’t burn.

Add marshmallows and stir until melted and the ingredients are incorporated.

Remove from heat and separate into thirds- three mixing bowls.


Add food coloring to reach desired colors.

**It is important to work quickly at this point. Mix in the cereal before the marshmallow starts to harden.

Add 2 cups of cereal to each bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon until cereal is coated.


Grease hands and a plastic Easter egg. Press the cereal into the egg. After a few seconds, remove the cereal egg and place it on a piece of waxed paper.


Serve in an egg carton or in the plastic eggs!