Homemade Pop Tart unique dinner dessert

Yesterday PghTasteBudA and I went to Dozen Bake Shop in Lawrenceville. I was surprised at the local buzz this bakery has generated in the area and needed to check it out for myself. For a bakery that specializes in cupcakes, they offer more than baked goods. If I’d have known, I would have prepared myself to try a meal there. With several full tables of patrons, we decided to get our baked goods to go.

My selection was one of the Homemade Pop Tarts, filled with peaches. I hesitated getting one after having a bad experience with a peach mélé from a different bake shop. I saved my pop tart for later in the day, which happened to make it my dessert after a homemade chili dinner. (Chili made with Pittsburgh Sports Sauce. Yum!)
So after eating the spicy chili, I settled down with a nice glass of white wine and my pastry. The pairing was unintentionally smart, as the sweetness of the wine highlighted the pastry. The pop tart revitalized my opinion of peach pastries. The filling was wonderful. Not overly sweet or chunky which was my main problem with the mélé.

Dozen Bake Shop on UrbanspoonThank you Dozen Bake Shop for the pop tart. I don’t believe peach ones are offered in the grocery stores. Your reinvention of this pastry is one of the many things that make you a destination within Lower Lawrenceville. I look forward to discovering the other flavors of pop tarts you’ll offer. Might I suggest a s’mores, lemon and blueberry, or white chocolate raspberry variety!

Check out their new commercial! Wonder where we’ll see it on TV first?

Pepsi or Coke?

I know that most of you have dealt with this decision many times.  Some of us as kids may have grown up with one of the two brands in our home and today its our brand of choice.   When we go to a restaurant we may even ask the question “Do you have Coke or Pepsi products?”

Personally, Coke (Coca-Cola) is the better tasting because of its refreshing taste and it is not as sweet as Pepsi.   Oddly, my favorite carbonated beverage is Dr. Pepper, which is from a separate product line.  Sprite is a Coca-Cola product but I choose Pepsi’s Sierra Mist.

So which is your brand of choice?  Pepsi or Coke?

Nicky’s Thai Kitchen hosts February Wine Exchange

In our search for a great Thai BYOB restaurant, we found Nicky’s Thai Kitchen was a great fit. The restaurant is small, seating just under 40 people, so the managers agreed to close the restaurant to our group. Despite a sellout RSVP list, mother nature prevented several from attendance.

The meal featured some traditional Thai options and some Nicky’s specialties. Being that we are fans of Thai, but not connoissuers, we had a close friend help choose the menu options. Some of which included appetizers of fresh spring rolls and thai toasts; and entrées of Fish Basil, Chicken Pad Thai and Pork Spicy Noodles. The meal was great and well received by the group.

This month we exchanged wines using love songs. Upon placing a bottle of wine on the exchange table, each person drew a random love song title and artist from a wine glass. The order of wine selection was determined by the order the song was released, oldest to newest. The list ranged from Elvis to Aerosmith and most found the exchange to be a creative tie-in to Valentine’s Day.

Nicky's Thai Kitchen (North Side) on UrbanspoonThank you to Nicky’s for hosting our group. We look forward to returning in the future.

April 2011 Wine Exchange Waiting List

The Pittsburgh TasteBuds are excited to announce that our April 2011 Wine Exchange, posted to our website less than 24 hours ago, is already SOLD OUT.  We are starting a waiting list for everyone else who expresses interest.  Add yourself to the waiting list by writing on our Facebook Event wall. 

We are working diligently with our host restaurant, Kaleidoscope Café, to finalize the menu and post it online. 

Thank you to everyone’s support and excitement toward our events.  It is a true pleasure to host them and watch the membership of the Pittsburgh TasteBuds grow.

Mia Madre Trattoria, Just like family

Mia Madre Trattoria will be the site for the Pittsburgh TasteBuds June 2011 Wine Exchange. Before coming to that decision, we went into the cold and sampled the homestyle Italian cooking that this small Bellevue gem has to offer.

We were served two appetizers, stuffed banana peppers; and greens and beans. Both were wonderful. The stuffed banana peppers were tender with a nice Italian sausage stuffed into them and covered with a homemade marinara sauce. There were three served, the picture is after I had the first one. The greens and beans were great. They were cooked differently than I’d had them before. I couldn’t figure out how the beans had so much texture. Apparently, the beans are cooked with the garlic (and I assume some secret spices) to get tender before adding and tossing the greens. Sounds simple, so I’m sure there is more to it, but the beans made this dish.

For out entrees, we both choose a chicken dish, Chicken Picatta and Chicken Marsala. Very different dishes, both very good and served with a side of pasta. The chicken was very moist with the Picatta. The capers were monster-sizes which looked awkward, but tasted great. A lemony dish after so much marinara was a pleasant change to the meal. The chicken for the marsala was cooked well and reheated well the next day too. TasteBudA couldn’t finish it.

When the wine exchange comes in June, we will be taking advantage of the patio seating if the weather cooperates. From the moment we walked in and were sat, Mia Madre had a very homey feel and the wait staff and owners welcomed us with open arms as if we were family.
Mia Madre Trattoria on Urbanspoon

Greensburg dining gets classier at J. Corks

J. Corks on UrbanspoonJ. Corks is one of the newest offerings in downtown Greensburg, Pennslyvania. As a former resident of this eastern suburb of Pittsburgh, fine dining has not historically been something that I thought of as important to this area. But at a recent lunch meeting with some alumni, I may have to start reviewing some of Greensburg’s finest establishments.

J. Corks offers high-end American fare and gives downtown business people a great new atmosphere to conduct working lunches. There is a full bar, formal dining room and patio area which patrons can choose their atmosphere.
Bacon and Bleu Salad

On the afternoon of my visit, I sat in the dining room with the large windows and a fireplace. The daylight made for a bright and inviting atmosphere. The menu offered many great options, which my fellow diners took advantage of. One ordered the Bacon and Bleu salad with grilled chicken, and another the Cobb Salad Sandwich. I, however, opted for one of the daily specials, a Bloody Mary Salad. My fellow diners raved about their dishes. The scallion vinaigrette and onion straws of the salad were pointed out in conversation. The cobb salad sandwich was a large enough portion to warrant a doggie bag.

Bloody Mary Salad
I am a fan of the alcoholic drink, bloody mary. This made into a salad intrigued me. The waitress warned that this was a salad with few greens, but I insisted on the salad being served as it was meant to be. It was served with a side of bloody mary dressing in a shot glass, which was a very nice presentation. As much as I wanted to like the salad, I did not like the combination. But the ingredients were quality and fresh, so I would again return to J. Corks on another visit to sample what my fellow diners were raving about.
Cobb Salad Sandwich and fries

Shamrock Shake Recipe

We all know and love McDonald’s Shamrock Shakes, but what if you are home and can’t make it to McDonald’s or you are afraid that they might have too many calories?  Well, I have the solution for you: Make it your self!

I found this recipe on Food.com but I had to make it my own a bit. 
I took 2 Cups of Fat free ice cream, 1 Cup of 2% milk, 1/4 teaspoon of mint extract and 12 drops of green food coloring and mixed them all in a blender.  Remember to be easy on the Mint because it can be very strong and not taste as good if you add too much.  We have all made a milkshake or two at home, just use common sense and go with what you like when mixing it all together.  Next time I am going to add some chocolate chips to mine!