Reviews: Muddy Cup and Good L’Oven Cookie Shop

26 Jan

So, it’s basically Snowmaggedon 2.0 this week if you are anywhere in the Northeastern part of the United States.  I’m into it.  I wish we had this weather in December, but you know what, I’M NOT IN CHARGE OF THIS STUFF.  But you know what I am in charge of?  Finding AWESOME coffee spots in my new neighborhood. Because delightfully tasty, warm drinks and baked goods go well with a blizzard, ya dig?

If you’re from the Avalon or Bellevue area, I am happy to report that there is a new Muddy Cup on Lincoln Ave. and it’s got a delicious little neighbor.

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I absolutely love the charm of Muddy Cup.  I liked the old Muddy Cup and I love the new Muddy Cup just as much.  My eyes didn’t know where to settle, I wanted to take in everything!!  I found that they had lots of drink options and the pricing was right in line with most of the other coffee places I frequent.  I decided to try something completely different than I normally order (an iced Americano) because sometimes you just need some hot comfort on a cold day, amiright?  I ordered a specialty latte, the Banana Foster.  Ummmm YUM.  Banana and cinnamon?  Hell yes.  All of it, give it to me.

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Unlike some other coffee places which shall not be named, there is tons of light in this place so you could actually read a book or a newspaper without going blind.  If you know me in real life, you know that I’m a huge coffee snob and I give this place 2 very enthusiastic thumbs up!

Take a look:

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Adorable, all around.  Bonus:  the owner is super friendly!  Check out the Muddy Cup Facebook page and give them a like – I love supporting small business owners, don’t you??

While she was making our drinks, we noticed that the Good L’Oven Cookie Shop was in an adjoining room.

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Both spaces had such a wonderful mix of antique pieces, one-of-a-kind vintage charm, and just oozed character.  I could’ve hung out all day and checked everything out!  Actually I kept joking with the owner that I wanted her to decorate my apartment.  Not only did Good L’Oven have JARS FULL OF GIANT COOKIES, granola bars, and biscotti, they had an assortment of other items for sale by local artisans.  Jewelry, jams, honey, I mean I couldn’t even tell you everything she had!

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Can you even?  I can’t.  You should check them out on the Good L’Oven Facebook page, which they seem to keep up-to-date with what baked goods are in stock.  She does special orders for events if you’re in need of something specific.  I can’t wait to try all the different flavor and I will absolutely be picking some up for Valentine’s Day.  You know, for myself.  Because I’m single.  It’s okay to eat your feelings on Valentine’s Day – that’s a universal rule.

If you’re in the area, I absolutely insist that you stop by and try a cookie.

419 Lincoln Ave.  Bellevue, PA 15202

 

Review: The Taj Mahal

7 Jan

Moving to a new area can be extremely stressful, but luckily it also offers plenty of new restaurants, coffee shops, and local haunts to try out.  A friend of mine invited me to check out one of her guilty pleasures the other day:  The Taj Mahal Restaurant on McKnight Road.

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Now ya’ll know how much I love Middle Eastern food, so I was very hopeful that I would like authentic Indian cuisine.  I mean, we all know my addition to Patak’s sauces, right??  Well imagine my surprise when we were seated and I noticed tons of Indian people dining around us.  That’s usually a good predictor that the food is going to be on point.  The day that we happened to go, the only option was the lunch buffet.  Which…I mean….now my expectations are totally out of whack because buffets are usually gross, right?

WRONG.  You guys, buffets aren’t always gross!  This one was really really delicious!!!  The buffet was extensive and included cold/salad type options, entrees side dishes, appetizers, and desserts.  They included vegan and gluten-free options too, plus did I mention that it’s between $8.99-$9.99 depending on which day you go for lunch?  There is way more to the buffet than what these photos show, you should just go there and see for yourself.

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First, I thought it would be a good idea to try a little bit of anything that didn’t look familiar.  How do you know if you don’t like it if you don’t try after all?

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I didn’t remember to take pictures of all the names of these things, but I tried different chicken, lamb, tofu, and even goat dishes!  I can’t even tell you what most of these things are but I definitely ate $9.99 worth of all of it!  And to be completely honest, the tikki marsala was on point.

Dessert was equally delish!  I got the rice pudding dish and these balls of goodness, but my real favorite was the MANGO PUDDING.  I mean come on.

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Whew!  I spent the rest of the day in my fat pants, that’s for sure, but I regret nothing.  Bottom line:  delicious, affordable, authentic, and YOU SHOULD GO.

Is 2 going to be my theme of the year?

5 Jan

Well, that weekend went pretty fast didn’t it??  I honestly made the very most of it, though.  One of my favorite parts of the weekend was FINALLY taking the time to buy new running shoes.  There are a lot of great running stores in Pittsburgh and I’ve been to a few over the years.  On Sunday, I decided to visit one of my favorites: True Runner in Shadyside.  If you’re not familiar with it you can find it on the corner of Aiken and Walnut.

2I don’t know a whole lot about running shoes since I’ve only ever owned a single pair.  Since I am a huge procrastinator, I waited far too long to invest in a new pair of running shoes.  As in, I bought the old ones in August of 2013.  At that time I had had my gait analyzed, so I knew that I was looking for a neutral shoe.  I even brought one of my old Saucony Progrid Mirage 2‘s to show the staff person just to confirm.  I didn’t realize how worn down they were until I saw the nice thick traction on the new shoes.  Ooops!

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So many options!  It’s hella overwhelming actually.  Luckily Danielle, the extremely friendly and knowledgeable staff member who helped me, made it very easy and brought me out a four pairs of neutral shoes for me to try out.  I explained my habits: I run on the treadmill when the weather is crappy and I try to almost always get my long runs in outside despite the temperatures; and also my goals for the year: train for and run two half marathons injury free.

She brought me out a pair of New Balances that I passed on (they just didn’t feel right in the arches), the updated Mirage (which was super tempting because I never had a single problem with my Saucony’s!), and then two winners:

The Brooks Ravenna 6

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These felt like a glove.  The support was in all the right spots, they felt great, and the soles are really durable.  I also fell in love with these Asics Gel DS Trainer 19 because they also felt amazing.  The Asics felt lighter than the Brooks, something I can appreciate on a longer run.

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Yeah, I bought both of them.  I don’t know why, but I couldn’t decide between them and I just wanted them both.  I NEVER splurge on things, so I don’t really feel bad for buying them both.  I’m actually such a combination of frugal and indecisive that make even the most experienced salesperson cringe. But you know what, 2015 is all about being in a good mental space so I just went for it.  I’m running 2 big races, I need 2 pairs of shoes?  Who knows how much mileage I will rack up by September!  They both may not make it to training for Zooma Cape Cod, but let’s still just go with the whole theme of 2 for now, mmmmkay? In all seriousness, I plan on rotating between the two depending on the length of my run.  Bottom line:  I’m really happy with my purchases and I was very pleased with my experience at True Runner.  Danielle was very knowledgeable, helpful, and positive; she wasn’t pushy or salesy at all.   I would 100% go back there and I would 100% recommend working with Danielle if you are in the market for new running shoes.

I am really sad to say goodbye to my old running shoes! :(  We spent so much time pounding the pavement together in so many of my favorite Pittsburgh neighborhoods.  But, I’m really looking forward to all the new adventures that 2015 has in store for me and my new shoes!!!

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Questions of the Week (leave me a comment below!):

What are the best running shoes you’ve ever owned?

Do you have any rituals when you buy new running shoes?

 

Honey Parmesan Pork Roast

3 Jan

I mentioned this a few days ago, but one of the biggest obstacles for me right now is making healthy eating decisions.  Since I’m working a slightly later shift than I had been before, it’s not always that easy for me to come home and whip up a meal from scratch.  I mean, it IS easy but I honestly just don’t feel like doing it.  I also don’t love eating dinner after 8PM.  Using my slow cooker a bit more is an obvious solution.  I haven’t been a huge fan of my slow cooker because I feel like it can make food mushy and over-cooked, but given the right recipe I think I could get used to it.  I’ve committed to trying one new slow cooker recipe a week, and this week I wanted some comfort food.

Honey Parmesan Pork Roast (recipe from Six Sisters Stuff)

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Ingredients:

  • 2 lb. boneless pork shoulder roast
  • 2/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 c. organic honey
  • 3 T. low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 T. Italian seasoning
  • 4 cloves pressed garlic
  • 2 T. grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 t. sea salt
  • 3 T. corn starch + 1/4 c. COLD water

This recipe was perfect to throw together before work because it basically took about 5 minutes.  It’s as simple as spraying the slow cooker with some olive oil, mixing together all the ingredients (except the corn starch & water – that comes later), and pouring the marinade over the roast.  I set mine to cook for 8 hours because that’s how long I knew I would be gone. When I got home from work, I pulled the roast out to rest and carve.

 

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Then, I poured the sauce/drippings into a small saucepan.  If you bring this to a boil, then stir in the corn starch and water, you can get a nice thick sauce to go over the pork.  Once the sauce is boiling, just stir it for around 2 minutes and it will thicken up nicely.  It’s not a gravy so much as it’s a glaze or a reduction – the consensus was that it would perfect drizzled over some roasted garlic brussels sprouts, but we only had some little potatoes to work with.  Spare me the lecture about needing a veg, I was channeling my mother’s old “meat and potatoes” formula for a perfect dinner.  As you do in 2015.

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Today is the first blank page of a 365 day book, write a good one.

1 Jan

How was your New Year’s Eve??  Mine was super fun!  Bea Arthur and I went to a friend’s house to ring in 2015 with some cocktails.

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For once, I made a good decision and opted not to drink my weight in wine.  Instead, I stuck with Ketel One and Pear La Croix for most of the night and I was pretty happy with that decision.  Don’t get me wrong, there were shots of whiskey later and champagne at midnight of course.

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Oh, and I ate all of the cheese.  Like, all of the cheese ever in existence it felt like.  I just can’t pass up a good cheese plate, especially when it comes with an assortment of mustards.  And did I mention there were s’mores?

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Because when are pointy sticks and flaming balls of sugary goodness not a good idea when your entire group of friends is wasted?  Luckily, we all woke up this morning with our eyes intact and our heads banging which is a win in my book.  Now that the holidays are officially over, I am looking forward to all the wonderful things I have planned this year! :)

[Today] is the first blank page of a 365 page book, write a good one.” – Brad Paisley

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