A Spice Rack Taco Seasoning, simple and homemade

So tonight, I found myself in need of some grocery shopping but little motivation to do it.  With just a pound of hamburger in the fridge and several tortillas left, I started to crave some tacos.  Looking around my kitchen, I had the cheese, lettuce and onions, but no taco seasoning.  Knowing that the seasoning blend is really just a mix of spices that I likely had in my spice cabinet, I figured I’d try a DIY, homemade seasoning.

Thanks to WholeNewMom.com, I made a wonderful taco seasoning using just the spices I already have on hand.

Homemade Taco Seasoning
2 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp paprika
1 Tbsp cumin
2 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground black pepper

This mixture will make enough seasoning for a few meals, so store it in an air-tight container to use later. If you are used to a pre-mixed seasoning, you can mimic its method and add about 2-Tbsp of seasoning and 3/4 cup water per pound of cooked ground meat and simmer. Though, personally, I used just a little less seasoning.

Sneak King 5th Anniversary

In just two months we’ll be celebrating the 5th Anniversary of a legendary game, Sneak King.  In Sneak King, you assume the roll of the Burger King and must (sneak) surprise hungry characters with Burger King food.  The game was on sale for a limited time with the Burger King value meals.  I believe I got my copy back in 2006 for only $3.99 with a BK value meal.

The game is still available for purchase on Amazon too!

Monday Lunch Special at Fernando’s Cafe, the Fold ‘Em

Fernando’s Cafe knows when to hold them and knows when to Fold ‘Em. On Monday I was walking around outside debating my lunch options when I crossed paths with Fernando’s Cafe on Liberty Ave. The Monday special of a “Fold Em” with chips and drink for only $5.99 peaked my interest. In looking at their menu, I felt like I was in a Quiznos not a cafe. I ordered the Beef Bacon and Pepper Jack.  The cheese comes melted on a round flatbread – I opted for wheat.  Toss on a few veggies and add a sauce and you can make your own sandwich much like the assembly line at subway.  Pictured you’ll see banana peppers, lettuce and pickles with hot sauce.

Fernando's Cafe on UrbanspoonFor $5.99 on a Monday, I was pleased with my lunch.  It didn’t wow me, but it is certainly a solid lunch option.  The lunch specials are different each day of the week, but do repeat weekly, so I may stop by on a later Monday and try a different Fold ‘Em.

PhotoBlog: Sausalido

grilled flank steak / arugula
and roasted sweet potato / fresh
herbed merlot reduction / fresh
TAGLIATALLI –  hand made pasta / mussels / bay scallops/
grilled eggplant / basil / San Marzano plum tomato 

Grecian feta / roasted plum tomato / basil / extra virgin olive oil

TasteBudA just celebrated a birthday and we did so in style. Check out the dinner we had at Sausalido.
Sausalido on Urbanspoon

Pho Van – our first vietnamese experience, a success

Pho Van on UrbanspoonDespite rising parking costs in Pittsburgh’s strip district, TasteBudA and I decided to overlook the parking costs and venture into a new cuisine for us – Vietnamese.  Awhile back I had purchased a Groupon for Pho Van to ensure that I’d take the time to try this new cuisine.  After a recent review of my already purchased Groupons, I decided Pho Kim had to be the one to use next.  So, on the day of its expiration, we took the time to go.

Spring rolls with peanut dipping sauce ($3)


I loved the fact that it was BYOB, because that makes any restaurant dinner more affordable – and after the preceeding work week, I was happy to have a glass of wine.  Upon arriving, I was impressed at how busy this restaurant was and the diversity of clientele – varying ethnicities and ages, even kids.  I immediately thought that if this cuisine was approachable to children, that it would be something I shouldn’t be afraid of.
For my meal, I ordered an order of spring rolls and the pork Bahn Mi (Note: the bahn mi is not on the printed menu, but available if you ask for it by name).
Pork Bahn Mi ($4)


The spring rolls were light and refreshing.  The fresh mint leaves left me craving a mojito as an after-meal drink.
What I was most taken back by was the hot spiciness of the bahn mi sandwich.  My first exposure to the sandwich was the FoodNetwork show Great Food Truck Race where the Nom Nom truck served bahn mi across the country our of their food truck.  At Pho Van, the sandwich was only about $4 and worth every penny.  Now I see how Nom Nom was able to win over Americans with their vientamese take on a grilled hoagie.

Being a BYOB restaurant, could Pho Van be a TasteBuds Wine Exchange destination? Perhaps.  But we have some great events lined up through December of this year, so maybe in 2012 we could host something and share our experience with the rest of our loyal wine exchange group.

Subway Oven Crisp Chicken – Not So Crispy

Despite my excitement for the Oven Crisp Chicken, I am sorry to say it did not live up to my expectations. I did the best I could to photograph the most appetizing view of the sandwich too, but it was a lost cause.

The oven crisp conceptually is a great idea – get those people that like the breaded crispiness of fried chicken to replace it with a Subway Fresh Fit sub. Well, thee chicken was breaded but it wasn’t crispy. For me, it fell short enough for me to consider it a glorified soggy chicken patty with copious Subway veggies.

As a fan of the oven roasted chicken Fresh Fit sub, I also have to wonder how the breaded chicken stacks up nutritionally. Well, other than being about 6g of fat, sadly it doesn’t.

Oven Crisp 6″ sub: 420 cal / 6.7g fat / 67g carb / 13g sugar / 23g protein
Oven Roasted 6″ sub: 320 cal / 5g fat / 48g carb / 8g sugar / 23g protein

I predict this sub to have a short run on the Subway menu unless changes are made to actually give me a crispy, crunch in the sub. I may even sacrafice the Fresh Fit designation for taste! Then, maybe I will support this sub more.

Greendance Winery

Yesterday was not just my first ever visit to Greendance Winery, but it was my first ever visit to an actual winery!  We took a trip out to Greendance Winery for their 4th Annual Wine Festival.

Greendance Winery is a beautiful winery located in Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania off the turnpikes New Stanton exit.  It is nestled behind some hills and down an unbeaten path. When pulling into the Winery there is plenty of FREE parking in the grass.  You then walk down the hill to first visit the wine shop where you can have a wine tasting of the many year round and in season wines that Greendance has to offer.   I got to try many different wines and the staff was highly informative on taste, pairings, and helped us try wines that fit our tastebuds. 

After tasting some wine we made our way over to the Greendance store where they sell cookies, fruits, crafts and other goodies.  The coolest part was after you came out of the store and make your way back over to the wine shop, they had a stand with hot sausages with all the fixings and another stand selling raspberry quince iced tea, pie, ice cream and other treats to take over to a table where you can sit back, enjoy a bottle of wine, your snack for the afternoon and have live music. 

The seating area is full of trees, flowers, tall bushes where you can really enjoy the atmospher of being at a winery.  It almost took me back to my trips to Italy and staying in Tuscany, it was truely amazing. 

We highly advise taking a trip out to Greendance Winery before the cold, rain and snow come to the area.  Do a wine tasting, and bulk up with amazing local wine for the upcoming holidays and winter season. 

Going Greek

Mediterrano on UrbanspoonIt’s official, the location for the fall wine exchange has been selected!  The fall wine exchange will be this up coming October at Mediterrano on Babcock Blvd in Millvale.  

Our Experience:  Last week Tastebud B, our new friend Grace and I decided to meet up to scope out Mediterrano as a possible location for our wine exchange.  I knew from the moment we walked into the restaurant that Mediterrano was going to fit the bill.   We were warmly greeted with friendly faces, always a good start.   The ambiance of the restaurant is very inviting and gives you a feeling of being in Greece.   And then, most importantly, the food!

Grace started off with the Elliniki Salata that had tomatos, cucumbers, peppers, caper berry, red onions, kalamata olives and feta cheese with garlic croutons.  It was mouth watering!   Just look at the picture below. Don’t you want to dive right into it?

As an appetizer, I ordered Dolmades (Grape leaves) stuffed with rice with beef.  I always like to splash a little lemon on mine.  These were excellent and came to the table nice and hot for all of us to share. I was surprised they were served hot, as I always have had them cold, but I’ve since come to find that they are meant to be served warm.

Tastebud B ordered a bowl of the Soup of the day.

The entrees came out pipping hot, looked great and tasted amazing!   I ordered the Mousaka:

which is layers of sauteed eggplant, zucchini and a bottom later of potato with a meat sauce.
TasteBudB went vegetarian and got the Domates Gemistes: Tomatoes stuffed with asparagus, feta and orzo with a touch of cinnamon, roasted red pepper sauce and served with a side of spinach.
Grace ordered a daily fish special of the Sinagrida (Red Snapper) dinner that was truely amazing. 
As you can see we had an amazing time and wonderful food.  We (The Pittsburgh Tastebuds) are so excited that Mediterrano has accepted to be our next location.  We are very excited to introduce to you this amazing restaurant and cuisine. 
Hope to see you all there! 
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