Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Quick (& Sweet) Bite in Suburghia- The Cupcake Shoppe

20 West 2nd Street- Greensburg

If you are in need of a quick sweet treat while in the downtown area, stop in at The Cupcake Shoppe at 20 West 2nd Street.  We ducked in for some cupcake yumminess before heading to the farmers market at the Westmoreland Art Museum to pick up local goodies.  The shoppe is cute, quaint, and very clean.  This was my first visit to the Shoppe, and I was very impressed with how affordable the cupcakes are- just $2 each! :)  (Please remember, I am girl who moved here from a larger Midwestern city & had grown used to paying up to $5 a pop for a gourmet cupcake.)

So here is the lowdown...

From left to right:
  • The Cupcake Shoppe's selection of cupcake flavors changes daily, so come back often for new choices. ;)  It does seem though that the Chocolate, Very Vanilla, and Peanut Butter Cup are regular offerings.  On this particular day, the special cupcake offered was Snickerdoodle.
  • My son ordered the Peanut Butter Cup, a moist chocolate cupcake topped with a peanut butter frosting that is reminiscent of homemade peanut butter fudge.
  • I went with a classic, the Chocolate cupcake, mainly because it is topped with a rich buttercream frosting and sprinkles. (I am a sucker for a good buttercream!)  The buttercream was amazing.
I definitely see more trips to The Cupcake Shoppe in our very near future. ;)
For more information and for the Shoppe's hours, visit below:

Monday, July 25, 2011

Beyond Just a Burger & a Beer- Bocktown Beer & Grill

690 Chauvet Drive- Pittsburgh (In the Pool City Plaza, across from Target)

Many people in the Pittsburgh/Suburghia area visit the Robinson Town Center for the mall and of course, Ikea.  And shopping can work up quite an appetite.  ;)  So, the next time you are at Ikea perusing their many light fixtures and kitchen gadgets, forgo the hoards of chain restaurants (and the mall food court) and head straight for Bocktown Beer and Grill.  Tucked inside the Pool City/Target Plaza, it is a real local gem.  Bocktown prides itself on utilizing local vendors and products, and serving some of the best local beers available on tap.  You could say it is a locavore's paradise.
I was fortunate enough to have a Columbus friend (a transplant from the 'Burgh) turn me onto this place and I haven't looked back since.  Confession- there are times when the husband and I just go to Robinson for Bocktown's irresistible fresh cut fries.  The shopping is secondary to the grub. ;)
So, let's get to it.

From top left, clockwise:

  • The glorious Flat Belly Fries (also comes in Beer Belly).  The Flat Belly is perfect for 2-3 people.  Order the Beer Belly if you are out with a group or are just REALLY hungry. ;)  We start out every Bocktown meal with an order of these fresh cut fries topped with the Beer Cheese and Black Peppered Bacon.   We keep it simple, but there are 47 different toppings to choose from to slather on top of your order of Bocktown fries.
  • Just to show that Bocktown is not all beer, burgers, and fries, I ordered the Seared Salmon Salad with the suggested Basil Pesto Vinaigrette.  The perfectly seared salmon was served over a fresh mix of greens, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, & other goodies.  And yeah, it made me feel a little less guilty for polishing off those Beer Belly Fries. ;)
  • My husband, on the other hand, ordered the ultimate trifecta of a burger, the Three Rivers Burgher.  The Three Rivers is served open-faced and generously topped with beer cheese, beef gravy, & Bocktown fries.  (Yes, under all of that is a juicy 1/2 lb burger!) 
  • Check Bocktown's website often for their ongoing Beer Tastings, Beeried Treasure events, and live music schedule.  Every week there is something new and tasty going on!

What you need to know before you go:

  • Bocktown Beer & Grill is becoming one of the first restaurants in the area to utilize the Tabbedout app.  Find out more about Tabbedout here:
  • Vegetarian?  No problem!  Bocktown offers many vegetarian options as well as the option to substitute a fat portabella for any of their burgers on the menu.
  • In addition to their regular fabulous menu, Bocktown offers daily specials. Check back at their website often.  You just might find a new favorite! :)
  • Bocktown is currently in the process of opening a second location close to the Beaver Valley Mall.  For updates & job opportunities, click here:
For directions, hours, menus, and the craft beers tap list, click here:

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Suburghian Girl Recipe: Summertime Risotto

What better way to display the green goodness of summertime than in a risotto?  Farmers markets, friends' gardens, and local grocers are teeming now with beautiful green zucchinis and artichokes of all shapes and sizes. (Okay, maybe just the grocers have the artichokes since Pennsylvania's climate isn't exactly conducive to growing them. ;) )  Inspired by the season, a zucchini from a friend's garden, and some beautiful baby artichokes from Delallo Italian Marketplace, I set out to make one of my favorite adult comfort foods with a fresh, summery twist.   

To start your risotto, pour one 34 ounce container of chicken broth (I use organic just because the taste is so much better) into a medium sauce pan and start to heat slowly over medium heat.  Watch it and don't let it boil.  We just want to warm the broth to add to the rice and veggies later. ;)

In the meanwhile, finely chop one medium shallot and set aside.  Slice the tops and the ends off of 8-10 baby artichokes.  Pull off all of the tough outer leaves of the artichokes, usually 3-4 layers.  Slice each artichoke into quarters.  Dice one medium zucchini

Heat 1 tbsp of butter and 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large pot.  Once the butter has melted, add the shallot and saute for 2 minutes until golden and soft.  Now add the artichoke quarters. Saute for 3 more minutes.  At this point, I add a splash of white wine to help soften the artichokes and cook them.  Then throw in your diced zucchini.  Sprinkle sea salt over the veggie mixture and saute for another 2 minutes. 

Add 1 1/2 cups of arborio rice to the vegetables in the pot and saute 2 minutes to toast the rice.  Pour in about a 1/2 cup of white wine.  Simmer until the wine is absorbed by the rice.  Remove your pot of warmed chicken broth from the heat.  Add about a cup of the warm broth to the rice/veggie mixture.  Stir often- the rice can stick to the bottom of the pan if you don't stay on top of the stirring.  Once the broth has been absorbed, add another cup and stir.  Continue repeating this process until you have used all the chicken broth.  All and all, the adding of broth and the stirring should take 20-30 minutes.  Make sure to taste the rice as you add the broth to check for doneness.  The rice should be creamy, but firm when it is done. 

Once the rice is cooked to your doneness, remove from the heat.  Add a tbsp of butter and about a 1/2 cup (or a bit more ;) ) of parmesan cheese.  I suggest staying away from the domestic parms, and splurging on an Italian one.  The taste of an Italian parmesan is bounds and leaps beyond a domestic variety.  You are not using much, so it won't hit your wallet too hard.  I bought my parmesan in a chunk and then finely chopped it.  Shredded parmesan would also work well. Stir the butter and parmesan into the risotto until it is melted and well incorporated.  Add sea salt and ground pepper to taste.  Plate up and serve immediately.  :)