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Pork Chops with Balsamic Roasted Veggies and Gorgonzola

3 Apr

It’s the first installment of Seasonal Eats: Spring Edition!  I thought I would start with something seriously simple: mushrooms and onions.  Mostly, I was just craving them and they happen to be on the list.  STILL COUNTS.  I’m still working on perfecting a few other recipes that I can’t wait to share!


Pork Chops with Balsamic Roasted Veggies and Gorgonzola

Porkchops Balsalmic Veggies Gorgonzola


  • 4 pork chops
  • 1/2 t. salt, divided
  • 3/4 t. pepper, divided
  • 1/4 c. olive oil, divided
  • 12 oz. small red potatoes, halved
  • 3 T. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 t. tomato paste
  • 1 t. dried thyme (or 1 T. fresh thyme)
  • 1 medium red onion, peeled and cut into 8 wedges
  • 8 oz. baby bellas, halved
  • 2 T. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 c. crumbled Gorgonzola

Preheat oven to 425*F with a large casserole dish inside (yes, we want to preheat the casserole dish, too!).

Heat a large skillet over high heat.  Add 2 T. of oil to the preheated pan and sprinkle porkchops with 1/4 t. salt and 1/4 t. pepper on both sides.  Brown on each side for about 3 minuets, then remove from the heat and let rest.

porkchops

 

Reduce heat to medium high, then add the halved potatoes to the oil – cut side down.  Cook for 2-5 minutes (depending on the size of the potato), until the potatoes are browned.

redpotatoes

Remove the pan from heat and prepare the mushroom mixture.  Whisk 1/2 t. pepper, 2 T. olive oil, balsamic, and tomato paste in a small bowl.  Combine 2 T. of this balsamic mixture with the mushrooms, onions, and thyme – toss to coat.  Add the mushroom mixture and potatoes to preheated casserole dish and bake for 10 minutes.  Stir the mixture, then cook for another 15 minutes.

roasted veggies

Place the pork chops on top of the veggies, return the dish to the oven and bake for another 10-20 minutes or until the pork chops are done.  Remove the pork from the pan and let it rest, then mix in the 1/4 c. Gorgonzola and parsley into the veggies.

roasted veggies with garnish

Before serving, drizzle the remaining balsamic mixture over the pork chops and garnish with more parsley.

PorkChopsBalsamic2


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Seasonal Eats: Spring Edition

12 Mar

I’m trying a new series on the blog this year and I’m really excited about it!  Around Western PA, the snow is melting and the daffodils trying their hardest to force spring into existence. I thought it would be an appropriate time to roll out a seasonal recipe spotlight.  I hear the same thing from a lot of people: “I want to eat locally and seasonally.”  Seems simple, right?  Just hit up the local farmer’s market, grab some veggies, and done?  It is and it isn’t…

You might be interested to know that not all the veggies sold at your local farmer’s market are local.  Or seasonal actually!  While I’ve gotten plenty of resistance with this tactic, I don’t ever hesitate to ask my local farmer’s market vendor if they are re-selling produce or if it’s home-grown.  I’ve touched a few nerves over the years, but I don’t see anything wrong with expecting transparency from a grower.  I’m not a snob about it and it doesn’t stop me from purchasing out-of-season food (farmer’s have to make money during he slow seasons, too!), but I like to know as much as I can about the food I buy.  If you want to eat locally, make sure you ask if you’re eating locally.  Either way, you’re supporting a local food producer/grower/vendor – but educate yourself about what you’re buying and why.

If you’ve ever grown your own food, you know that some things don’t just spring up year round.  In Western PA, there is a very limited amount of seasonal product that’s available from March-April.  It’s still early spring and that means LOTS of greens, but it also means some staples like broccoli, carrots, beets, mushrooms, rutabagas, and turnips.  There are some things I usually pass over because they seem a little intimidating – like artichokes, kohlrabi, even endive is a mystery to me.  Well not this year.  This year I’m embracing all the things I’ve never embraced before.  That’s what 2015 is about, remember?  So this year, I’m not only embracing local, seasonal eating – I’m going to try as much of the produce that my region has to offer!

March-April in Western PA:

Artichoke, Arugula, Asparagus, Beets, Beet Greens, Bok Choy, Broccoli, Broccoli Rape, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Cardoons (not sure I’m this adventurous yet!), Carrots, Cauliflower, Chard, Chicory, Collards, Cress, Dandelion Greens, Endive, Fava Beans/Greens, Fennel, Garlic, Kale, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Lettuce, Mushrooms, Mustard Greens, Onions, Parsnips, Pea Shoots, Radishes, Rutabagas, Scallions, Spinach, Sprouts, Sunchokes, Tatsoi, Turnips

If you have been curious about how to work with any of the ingredients found in this list, shoot me a comment and I will make sure I find a great way for us to get comfortable with them.

Keep an eye out for the new series on Twitter and Instagram, I will be posting under the hashtag: #springeatsSFTS

Seasonal-Eats-Spring-Edition

Hoisin-Lime Glazed Salmon with Crunchy Bok Choy Slaw

10 Mar

Half marathon training is in full swing and things are going pretty great!!  I’ve either got a stress fracture forming in my left foot or tendinitis, so I’ve been trying to be very calculated with my training runs.   I’ve been pulling back a bit the last 2 weeks, getting in my as many miles as I can, and taking walking breaks when I’m starting to feel pain.  So far, this has been working and I’m feeling confident moving forward.  I’ve got a 5K on deck this weekend per my training plan, so we will see how it goes!

Side note: Can you believe how amazing 40 degree weather feels?  I mean, I’m ready for shorts and flip flops and there’s still piles of snow all around.  I absolutely cannot wait until it’s warm enough to get my grill on!  In the meantime, I thought I would leave this recipe here, it was absolutely delicious, healthy, and made for some great leftovers!

Hoisin-Lime-Glazed-Salmon

Hoisin-Lime Glazed Salmon with Bok Choy Slaw (from Cooking Light)

  • 2 c. thinly sliced bok choy
  • 1/2 c. thinly sliced carrots
  • 1/2 c. thinly sliced red pepper
  • 2 T. rice vinegar
  • 1 t. dark sesame oil
  • 1/2 t. Sriracha
  • 1/4 c. dry roasted, unsalted cashews
  • 2 T. hoisin sauce
  • 1 T. fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 1 clove pressed garlic
  • 4 salmon filets
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 2 c. cooked jasmine rice

First, preheat the broiler to high WITH a sheet pan in the oven – you want to preheat the pan as well as the oven.  While the oven is preheating, prepare the dressing for the slaw by mixing together the rice vinegar, sesame oil, and Sriracha in a small bowl.  Place the prepared bok choy, carrots, and red pepper in a large bowl and set this aside for now.

Once the broiler is preheated, place the salmon filets on the preheated sheet pan.  Spray them with some cooking spray or lightly coat them with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt.  Place in the broiler for six minutes.  While the fish is pre-cooking, combine the hoisin, lime juice, and garlic in another small mixing bowl.  After 6 minutes, remove the fish from the oven and brush the salmon with half of the hoisin mixture.  Place back in the broiler for another 4-6 minutes (until desired doneness), then brush the remainder of the hoisin glaze.

While the fish is resting, toss the bok choy slaw with the vinegar mixture and add in the cashews.  Serve with jasmine rice.

 

Oh, and did I mention that the leftovers make freaking awesome tacos for lunch the next day?

Salmon Tacos

 

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.

Muddy-Cup-Good-Loven-Exterior

 

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.

Muddy-Cup-3

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:

Muddy-Cup-1

 

Muddy-Cup-4

Muddy-Cup

 

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.

Good-Loven-1

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!

Good-Loven-3

 

Good-Loven-4

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

 

Happy 4 Years SFTS + A Review of Alihan’s

6 Oct

It’s a big day at SOLE For The Soul!!!  I’ve been keeping this blog for exactly FOUR YEARS today – that’s pretty crazy if you think about it!  We’ve come a long way together, me and you.  We started out trying all the best restaurants in Pittsburgh, talking about sustainability, and going on adventures.  Then, when we started making healthy changes and getting fit together.  I like the new us, don’t you?

thanks-for-the-feedback-bye

Seriously though, I’m so appreciative of all you guys who consistently come back and check out what I’ve got going on, share my recipes on Pinterest, and stalk my Twitter.  Love you guys! ♥


 

It seems appropriate to get back to our roots on such a big day, so I’m happy to do a little restaurant review today of a new-to-me place called Alihan’s in Pittsburgh’s Cultural District.  I didn’t take very many pictures when I was there on Friday night, but that’s because I was busy catching up with my favorite cousin.  We don’t get to see each other very often, so we had plenty to talk about – and wine.  So, yeah.  Little known fun fact about where I’m from (New Castle, PA): it’s an unexpected little pocket of Middle Eastern/Mediterranean culture.  When I’m craving the tastes of home, lamb on the rod is probably the first thing I start talking about so when my cousin found Ailhan’s on Yelp we didn’t hesitate to make a reservation.  (I would strongly suggest making a reservation because they get pretty busy if there’s a show nearby.)

The space is small but charming and not overly kitsch-y.  There is an outdoor patio with a gorgeous view of the Roberto Clemente bridge if you’re into that sort of thang.  The 20 mile an hour winds on Friday didn’t make that very inviting, though!  Inside, there was an unexpected water feature that I was impressed with.  We knew it was BYOB, so we had each brought a bottle of wine and were happy to find out that there is only a single corking fee per table.  We ordered the cold appetizer platter and WOW.  It was basically heaven in my mouth.  From left to right, the plate offered feta, tabbouleh, char-grilled eggplant salad, stuffed grape leaves, yogurt sauce (I didn’t try this), hummus, and baba ghanoush.  Everything was so delish.  The stuffed grape leaves were absolutely perfect, so many places don’t take their time on so they end up rubbery and tasteless.  I was impressed!

Not sure about grape leaves?  I say try them – they are low calorie, high fiber dark veggie that are full of calcium, iron, and vitamins A&K. One cup of grape leaves actually provide you with an entire day’s worth of Vitamin A!  Also, the char-grilled eggplant salad was not something I even thought I would like but I could not stop eating it!  Mixed cold platter for the win guys.

alihans-mixed-cold-appetizers

We decided to split an entree – neither one of us wanted to take home any leftovers since we both had plans for after dinner.  Of course we ordered the lamb shish kebob with white rice.  I’m not going to lie, I am a lamb snob.  I can’t help it, I’ve been eating it all my life and it’s one of my favorite proteins.

alihans-lamb-shish-kebob

This may not look like a very large portion, but the pieces of lamb are bigger than they look.  They use a pepper and tomato marinade before they char-grill this lamb on a rod.  Let’s just say I was kind of regretting the decision to share.  They weren’t over-seasoned, and you could taste the caramelization from the marinade.  They were cooked perfectly with a great char and a tender inside.  The rice was so fresh, we both were surprised at how good it was since it’s kind of an afterthought.  The whole time we just kept saying that we would come back again and again.  I will not be sharing next time, I will say that.

What else can I say?  Our server was helpful, attentive, charming, and knowledgeable (that can make or break a place for me).  It’s right next door to a parking garage, but there is plenty of on-street parking.  And, if you want to know anything else leave me a comment I guess!  As far as I’m concerned, this place is a little hidden gem in downtown Pittsburgh.

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