Friday, May 29, 2009

Foto Friday

Natalie and I about to eat a lamb lollipop.
Time made some delicious hor d'oeuvres for a fundraiser last evening: scallops wrapped in bacon, lamb lollipops with tzatziki sauce, asparagus-cheese-proscruitto bundles, tomatoes with goat cheese and balsamic glaze, and chicken satay with peanut sauce.
Everything was delicious - as always!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Mercado's Pizza Grill

Today Natalie and I went to lunch at the new (opened May 20) Mercado's Pizza Grill at 225 N. 2nd Street. We each had a few slices of the delicious, fresh, crispy-crunchy pizza. The interior is all new, fresh and clean with Megatouch, a jukebox and a few tvs. The menu includes pizza, appetizers, hot and cold subs, and dinner features. They are opened 7 days a week from 11:00 am to 2:00 am. They have Happy Hour specials on well drinks and drafts from 4:00 - 7:00. Located directly across from 2nd Street Pizza, and a block from Palumbo's and 2 blocks from Sam Buca's, there are plenty of late night pizza joints on restaurant row. I know Mercado's would be my top choice (then of course, to be honest, I usually choose whichever pizza is closest to where I am!)!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

FlavorFest post on Savvy Grouse

My FlavorFest post is up on the Savvy Grouse.
This photo has nothing to do with the FlavorFest, but...
... this little guy is the official Pennsylvania bird who inspired the blog's name.
(Sadly, this is a portrayal of a stuffed grouse)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

FlavorFest Photos

Today I wrote a post about the FlavorFest for the Savvy Grouse. Until it's posted here are a few photos from Sunday at the Fest on the grounds of the PA Renaissance Faire.
Once we bought our tickets, we entered into this area with the beautiful fountain. Next we walked through the gate, got our glasses and began an afternoon of wine, beer and food sampling.

We were so busy tasting wines, eating pretzel sandwiches from TJ Rockwell's and petting a baby goat, we forgot to take photos of the vendors so you could see what the atmosphere was really like. Slightly buzzed, we finally remembered to get the camera out once we were sitting and listening to jazz music. Here, Greg just can't get enough from one glass so he stole mine.

Thank you, Bec, for talking me into buying this hat. To Greg's confusion and slight disapproval, I wore it all weekend.

Our retired glasses.

A shot of the Mount Hope estate on our way out.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Foto Friday

A chicken-bacon-ranch pizza from Zephyr Express in Harrisburg! Yum!

The Great PA Flavor Fest

Greg and I are planning a trip to the Great PA Flavor Fest on Sunday. It's being held at the Mt. Hope Estate in Lancaster County.

A day filled with Pennsylvania's finest food, wine and beer!

I'll write about our adventures here next week, but if the suspense is too much for you too handle, make your way over to the Fest on Saturday or Sunday and experience for yourself! I've never been to this event before so I don't know exactly what to expect. However, as long as my tummy is full, I will be happy!

Arepa City Latin Eatery - Harrisburg

A few Fridays ago, Mary, Natalie and I went to Arepa City in Harrisburg - a quaint little restaurant serving Venezuelaian fare. We all tried an arepa (we had to since it's the eatery's namesake!) - a fried corn bun stuffed with various meats, veggies and sauces. There are 14 different arepas on the menu. I tried the reina pepiada which is a chicken salad with chunks of avocado. Mary had the pabellon - shredded beef, black beans, fried plantains and white cheese. Natalie tried the chorizo con papas - chorizo sausage and diced potatoes.

Reina pepiada


Chorizo con papas

As I showed before, we had the tostones. For only $2, trying these is an absolute must!

The chef - who cooks everthing from scratch and then serves his creations to the patrons - makes three mayonnaises to eat with your arepas and tostones. There is a garlic & carrot spicy sauce, a mojito mayo (my fave) and a guansacaca (Venezuelaian style mayo) made with cilantro, avacado, onion, salt, pepper and lime.

Each table gets a sqeeze bottle of each kind. Before each bite if my arepa, I made sure to add a big squirt of mayo! Oh I'm sure the calories added up at this lunch!

Arepa City also offers empanadas with various fillings and entrees such as steak, rice & beans and plantain rellenos. For dessert they have homemade flan (various flavors), pineapple upside down cake and cheesecake.

The atmosphere of the restaurant is very laid back with beige walls and few decorations. With soft salsa music playing in the background, the dining area had a light and airy feeling - a nice Latin vibe! There is also outdoor seating available.

We were there during the lunch hour and it was very crowded and there was only one waitress. We waited for a very long time for our food, but it was worth it! Later that evening I was at a bar across the street with some friends and we were hungry for an arepa (two in one day, you ask?! Oh yeah!) but they closed at 9:30, even though they advertise they stay opened until 2am on Friday and Saturday nights. I'm assuming they were short staffed or ran out of food.

I'm looking forward to visiting Arepa's soon... I'm sure it will be a nice alternative to a 2am slice of pizza!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Raspberry Frosted Brownies

My brother was hungry the other evening (shocker!) so he decided to make brownies from a box mix for a quick sweet tooth fix. I can't remember the brand (Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker) but on the back of the box, it had a suggestion for a raspberry topping:

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup raspberry preserves
1 block (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened

** add more sugar or preserves to get the consistency you like**

He whipped this together and smeared it on top of the brownies. It was an easy and super sweet treat.

This topping would also be good on chocolate cupcakes!

Why he's wearing an adult-sized Power Rangers shirt, I do not know!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Onion Dip

I made this dip well over a year ago but Adam - my dear, picky little eater - remembered how much he liked it and asked for the recipe last night to go with his bag of chips. Together we made this smooth, creamy & decadent dip - way, WAY better than the dip from the dried onion soup mix.

The recipe is from this book: Everyday Celebrations. It's a great compilation with complete menus for dinner parties.

So we're making the dip and go for the bag of chips and here Arielle polished off the bag without us knowing! Adam had to make a run to the grocery store at 9:30pm for chips but it was well worth the effort! It's 11am and I am counting down the minutes until noon when I can go eat some chips and dip (well I could eat it now, but I would feel too indulgent! haha).

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 yellow onions, coarsely chopped (I used a mini food processor)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Dash of hot sauce

In a medium saute pan, melt the butter with the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft and golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer onions to a bowl and let cool.
In a medium bowl, combine the sour cream, mayo and lemon juice. Add the onions and mix well. Season with salt and peper and hot sauce. Refrigerate until chilled but overnight is best to allow flavors to mix.

Cooking the onions. I actually let them cook for longer than 20 minutes - until they are slightly caramelized.

Ready to dig in!!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Foto Friday

These are crispy and salty tostones (fried green plantains) with sweet and spicy slaw from Arepa City. This delicious, highly-recommended Venezuelan/Latin Eatery is located at
316 N. 2nd St., Harrisburg.
Coming soon: a post about my lunch here.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Those of you who know me know I love to think of creative baby names, and while my brother and I were making this dessert on Mothers Day, I asked him if he likes Tiramisu for a little girl. He said, "yes, you can call her Su"! Haha... I love it when people play along with me to keep me happy and entertained.

So on to this delicious dessert... I have made this countless times for special occasions, church events (yes, I think I was criticized for taking a booze-laden dessert to church) and just for a special treat.

At my brother's request, we made it last Sunday. It comes from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook that a few friends bought for me while I was in college. It's a great book that I've found tons of yummy recipes in.

1/3 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons instant coffee crystals
2 Tablespoons rum
2 8-oz. cartons mascarpone cheese or two 8-oz. packages cream cheese, softened (I usually do one of each to save money. If it's for a special occasion, I make sure I spring for the 2 cartons of mascarpone)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ounces semisweet chocolate, grated
1 cup whipping cream
2 Tablespoons Kahlua
1/2 semisweet chocolate, grated

Prepare Hot Milk Sponge Cake as directed, except grease and flour the baking pan. Cool for 10 minutes in pan; remove cake from pan. Cool cake completely on wire rack.

Chill a medium mixing bowl and the beaters of an electric mixer (I put them in the freezer for 15 minutes).

Meanwhile, for syrup, in a small saucepan combine granulated sugar, coffee granuales, and 1/3 cup water. Cook over medium heat until boiling. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in rum. Cool completely.
For filling, in a medium bowl stir together the mascarpone, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Stir in the 2 ounces grated chocolate.

To assemble, evenly cut cake in half. Place a cake layer on a cake plate. Brush layer wit half of the syrup and spread with half of the filling. Add the second cake layer; top with remaining syrup and filling.
In the chilled mixing bowl combine whipping cream and liquor. Beat with the chilled beaters on medium speed until soft peaks form. Spread whipped cream over top and side of cake; sprinkle with the 1/2 ounce grated chocolate. Cover and chill at least 4 hours before serving.

I forgot to add chocolate to this cake... oopsie! Still good though!

Hot Milk Sponge Cake

This is the cake I use to make tiramisu (recipe is next post).
It's also good served with berries and whipped cream.
I have made this cake several times and it's always a hit!

Recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter or margarine

Grease a 9x9x2-inch baking pan; set pan aside.

Stir together flour and baking powder; set aside.

In a mixing bowl beat eggs with an electric mixer on high speed about 4 minutes or until thick. Gradually add sugar, beating on medium speed for 4 to 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add the dry mixture; beat on low to medium speed just until combined.

In a small saucepan heat and stir milk and butter until butter melts; add to batter, beating until combined. Pour batter into the prepared pan.

Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack. Makes 9 servings.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Pomegranate Lemonade Spritzer

In the latest edition of the Paula Dean magazine, there is a recipe for a Pomegranate Lemonade Spritzer. I thought this would be nice to make for my mom for our Mothers Day dinner. Paula recommended using Minute Maid Pomegranate Lemonade but the first time I read the recipe before going to the store, for some reason, I thought this was a frozen concentrate mix. I get to the store and can't find this type of frozen concentrate so I buy pink lemonade concentrate instead. I get home and realize Paula is referring to a bottled drink so I go to a different store and can't find it. So I ended up buying pomegranate cranberry juice instead.
This is the drink concoction inspired by Paula Dean:

64 oz. pink lemonade (I used frozen concentrate and followed the package instructions)
2 to 3 cups ginger ale
2 to 3 cups Sprite
2 cups pomegranate cranberry juice

Mix all together, garnish with lemon and lime slices and serve immediately.
This was yummy but make sure you have enough people to drink it within a few hours otherwise it will go flat!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

2201 in the boro

Check out my Savvy Grouse post for 2201 in the boro!

This restaurant was a special treat!

The peanut butter pie we had for dessert.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Fontina Meatball Kabobs

I found this recipe in the May 2009 Better Homes and Gardens Magazine and thought my mom would enjoy them for Mothers Day Dinner. And my brother and sister were excellent helpers in the kitchen! I made these kabobs, berry fruit cups, pineapple cheddar cornbread and tiramisu. I should have made something else, like a potato dish. Oh well!

I don't recall ever cooking with fontina cheese, but I really do like it's sharp flavor and soft texture.

I think this meatball recipe would make good burgers too!

1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup grated Parmesan (I used Asiago because it's what we had)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried Italian Seasoning
1 1/2 lb ground beef
2 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped
16 1/2-inch cubes fontina cheese
8 canned artichoke hearts, drained & halved
1 6- to 8-oz. package mushrooms (I used baby bellas)
1 pint grape tomatoes
1 recipe Balsamic Glaze (below)
Basil leaves (optional - didn't use)

Soak wooden skewers in water, if using.
Combine egg, Parmesan, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper in large bowl. Add beef and proscuitto; mix well. Shape a small portion around a cheese cube. (Recipe says to make 16 meatballs - I got more)
My brother was such a great meatball former!
On skewers, thread meatballs, artichokes, mushrooms, and tomatoes. Leave room in between each item on skewer so they can cook more evenly (which I forgot to do but the recipe recommends it).
Prepare Balsamic Glaze: In small saucepan combine 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar, 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1 minced garlic clove, salt, pepper and 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, 4 minutes or until reduced to about 1/4 cup. Divide in half.

Heat and Pam the grill.

Drizzle half of the Balsamic Glaze over kabobs. Place on grill (medium heat). Grill 10-12 minutes until meat is done. To serve, drizzle with remaining glaze. Sprinkle with fresh basil.

Final Product!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Mother-Daughter Banquet

Last night was the second annual Mother-Daughter Banquet at our church. This is when the ladies of the church - their their mothers, daughters, sisters, in-laws, neighbors, friends, etc. - get together for a lovely dinner served by the men of the church.

The Social Ministry committee did an excellent job (as always!) of setting the table with lace table clothes, bud vases with yellow blooms, and at each place setting, a mini dish of pastel M&Ms and a homemade beaded bookmarker with a cross charm on the end. We had a fruit cup and salad as starters. Pastor Martz told us about the history of Mothers Day and then we had a little multiple choice quiz on certain quotes about mothers by famous authors. I got a 0 out of 10! If you can see close enough in the photo below, the circled answers are my guess - obviously incorrect so if you want to play, I narrowed down the choices for you!

My Grandma, Mom and Aunt B were there from my family. Sadly, with all of us mingling in different directions, we didn't get a photo of the 4 of us. In the photo below, you'll see my Momma in the blue shirt, and behind her in the black shirt, my Grandma. That is my Grandpa serving up the chicken!

We had a dinner of baked chicken breast, steamed cauliflower & brocolli and potatoes. A very simple meal, yes, but it was delicious and satisfying. A good, home-cooked meal that everyone enjoyed.

And for dessert, Angel Food Cake with Pineapple Lush (yes, that's pineapple lush and not egg salad! ha!). And some Lipton's Ginger Twist tea, which was very good (I need to get some new teas in my repertoire).
Pineapple Lush Recipe
1 can (20 oz.) crushed pineapple in juice, undrained
1 pkg. (3.4 oz.) vanilla-flavor instant pudding
1 cup thawed whipped topping - or whip up some heavy cream and add sugar to taste
angel food cake

Mix pineapple and dry pudding mix. Gently stir in whipped topping. Serve with angel food cake.

These flowers are for all mothers reading this post!
Happy Mothers Day!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Giant Sugar Cookies

The other day I was in the mood to make cookies. It was late in the evening so I wanted something easy. There are stacks of Food Magazines all around our house so I grabbed a few and began thumbing through. The magazine features a cookie recipe each month in the very back of the book (the Cookie Jar section). I found the April 2007 edition in which there is a Giant Sugar Cookie recipe. So off to the kitchen I go...

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with one rack in upper third and another in lower third. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda; set aside.

Using an electric mixer on med-hi, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 2 to 4 minutes. Add egg and vanilla; beat well to combine.

With mixer on low, add half the flour mixture followed by sour cream, then remaining flour mixture; mix just until smooth (Dough will be stiff; I had to finish mixing it with a wooden spoon).

Drop mounds of dough, each equal to about 3 tablespoons (I used a 1/4 cup of dough), 3 to 4 inches apart, onto two ungreased baking sheets (I still used an Exopat); sprinkle with sugar. Bake until edges of cookies are just firm and tops are barely beginning to brown - I did 20 minutes but I think it was too long. I would recommend starting at 17 or 18 and keep a close eye on them. Also, rotate the sheets half way through baking. Transfer cookies to a rack to cool. I got 11 cookies from this recipe.

These were huge and so good! I think I will put colored sugar on them next time, just to make them more colorful. These are also great gift-giving cookies - stack a few, wrap them in cellophane and tie a ribbon and tag around them. Very cute!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Billy D's Ice Cream Shoppe and Bakery

Greg and I have been watching for the opening of a new ice cream shoppe/bakery on Linglestown Road. After much anticipation and curiosity, Billy D's opened their doors about a month ago and we've visited a few times. They carry several flavors of Hershey's ice cream and feature lots of sundae combinations and a long list of toppings. We have yet to try ice cream there because Greg and I made a deal that we have to finish our Easter candy before we can go out for ice cream... I'm working on that candy as I type!

Their bakery goods are fresh and delicious. I recently tried the Maine Blueberry Pie and it was scrumptuous! They sell their pies whole or by the slice. There are freshly brewed coffee in at least 6 flavors as well as hot teas. You fix your own coffee or tea; kind of gas station style, but it's ok and the coffee is good. They have a frequent drinkers club so when you buy 9 hot beverages you get the 10th free. They have a nice system because you don't need a card - you just give the cashier your name and they keep track in on their register system. Greg and I are having a race to see who got their 10th cup free but he tends to cheat... like when we went on Saturday and each got a coffee... he put both the coffees under his name even though I paid! It's ok though. I'll get him back...

When Greg and I went for breakfast on Saturday we each tried their Breakfast Ciabatta Sandwich - bacon or sausage, egg and cheese with a roasted red pepper pesto (well they call it a pesto but it's more like a red pepper mayo). The ciabatta was very good but the eggs were, I'm guessing, nuked in the microwave, and I'd prefer them cooked on a griddle. However, the sandwich wasn't bad because of the bacon, cheese and ciabatta!! We got the 'pesto' on the side to test it first.

We also shared an iced cinnamon roll, which was fresh a not overly large, like lots of cinnamon rolls tend to be. Greg asked for it to be warmed, which was a great call.

Billy D's also serves salads and sandwiches.

I think I'll stick to the coffee, ice cream and baked goods here (there are cute cupcakes I want to try!).

Here is a link to Billy D's Facebook page where you can find some pictures of the restaurant and their bakery items.

I'm going to start going more often in the morning so I can beat Greg to that 10th cup of joe!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Chicken Tenders with Honey Mustard Dip

After Arielle's track meet, I was planning on taking Arielle and Adam out for pizza but Adam says he eats pizza all the time at college, so I had to get more creative and motivated to make something he'd like. I found chicken tenderloins in the freezer and knew he'd like chicken tenders. I found a recipe in a Food Magazine (sorry - can't remember which edition) and a honey mustard dip.
1/3 cup flour
1 large egg, lightly beaten
coarse salt & ground pepper
4 cups crisp rice cereal (I used Progresso Garlic an Herb bread crumbs instead.. plus this mix gave more of a flavor than I imagine the cereal would)
2 tablespoons olive oil (I didn't use with the bread crumbs, but I guess I could have)
1 1/2 lbs chicken tenders
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey (I used a lot more - play with it because all honeys have different degrees of sweetness - I was even thinking of using agave nectar; next time)
Preheat oven to 475 degress. Place flour in a shallow bowl, and egg in a second one; season both with salt and pepper. Pulse cereal and oil in a food processor until fine crumbs form. Season with salt and pepper; transfer to a third shallow bowl.
Coat chicken: first in flour, shaking off excess; then with egg, letting excess drip off; and finally in cereal mixture (or bread crumbs), pressing to help it adhere. Place on a baking sheet (I should have sprayed it, and bake until light golden brown and cooked through, 10-15 minutes, turning over halfway though.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together sour cream, mustard and honey; season with salt and pepper. Serve with tenders. We also had carrot sticks to dip in it.

Breading the tenders.

The dip