Tag Archives: SOLE food

Franktuary, finally.

20 Jan

Yes, I am a foodie.  Yes, I strive to be a locavore.  Yes, I want food produced as sustainably as possible.  Yes, I want hotdogs.

You heard me – hot dogs.

My favorite food in the world.

I can’t get enough.

And now that I’ve had Franktuary, my life may be complete.

If you’re involved in the Pittsburgh food scene, you are probably reading this post and wondering what took me so long to get over to Franktuary.  To be honest, we’ve been trying to consciously eat out less and when we do, we don’t travel far from the Waterfront.  But when she♥ and I decided to have an impromptu afternoon date, I jumped at the chance to try the place out.

We opted for the Lawrenceville location (there is a Franktuary downtown, and – how cool is this – they have a food truck).  It was hipster heaven, and I initially felt out of place in my paint-tattered yoga pants and naked face.  But, the menu was so much fun, the bartender was nice and snarky, and I mean, its Lawrenceville (home of hobo-chic).

Anyway, back to the dogs.  Franktuary’s mission is basically a farm-to-table wiener with foodie appeal.  You can see a copy of their menu here.  I was dying to try some of the awesome styles, especially the “Bangkok” which included Thai peanut sauce, carrot, and cilantro.  I have never seen hot dogs treated this way!

Despite the temptation, I’m ultimately a hot dog minimalist.

Here’s what we ended up with:


From left: a standard with beer-cheese topping, a standard with sauerkraut, a locavore with Miller’s mustard, and in the middle – Pittsburgh-style pierogies.

She♥ loved her 2 standard dogs, which were all-beef.  The cheese sauce was tasty and the kraut was good.

I, however, had mixed feelings about my locavore.


Something was off.  The locavore is made from local grass-fed beef, but as you can see is a strange color.  The texture was a little bit off, too.  Perhaps that’s why they added the excessive amount of the tangy Miller’s mustard?  I wouldn’t say I was disappointed, but next time I might opt for the “Underdog,” which is made from New Zealand grass-fed beef.

I will sacrifice local for sustainable & tasty if I have to.

Moving on, I believe Franktuary has the best pierogies I have ever eaten.


Seriously, so good.  They had potato and farmer’s cheese in them.  (Farmer’s cheese seemed to imply some kind of local farm, but you can never really be sure.)

I will 100% go back to Franktuary and I will 100% order the garbanzo fries.  I didn’t even notice them on the menu until I was looking at it online to write this post!  Also,  I will be sure to go back once the weather gets nice, as the Lawrenceville location has garage door-style facade.  I’m sure those have a name, but I can’t think of it right now.

Image borrowed from Yelp

Slow Cooker Chicken & Cheater Empanadas

21 May

I literally love Tex-Mex style food.  If it is hot and spicy and tastes like cumin or coriander, I’m there.

A few days ago, I was going to make chicken tacos, so in my slow-cooker, I threw 2 large diced tomatoes and 1 dice jalapeno:

And then about a pound of organic boneless, skinless chicken breast:

And the added enough low-sodium chicken broth to cover everything.

(When you are using a slow-cooker, meat in liquid cooks faster.  In this case, it means that it will be super moist and fall apart quickly.) ♥

I don’t like taco seasoning from a bag (I mean, don’t get me wrong I grew up eating Ortega, but they can keep those 430mg of sodium).

I added some ancho chili powder, cumin, coriander and fresh ground pepper to the mix and let it simmer (covered) for about 6 hours.


She may be ugly, but she’s one tough bitch.  She recently fell off of the refrigerator and shattered a glass-top stove (which unfortunately I cannot find the photo of).

While digging around for a photo, I did happen upon this gem from last year:

It’s here, it’s finally here!!! ♥♥♥

Anywhoo…back to the chicken.  I had been thinking to myself: “Chicken tacos are going to be bomb after this little league game!”

And then we bombed the game and came home feeling kind of blah.  I remember settling for something a PB&J and calling it a night.

So, I used a slotted spoon to get all the chicken, all the tomatoes and what was left of half the jalapeno, and added 1/4 c . of the cooking liquid to one of my Snapware containers.

These aren’t mine, but I have the same set! BPA-free baby!!

The great thing about shredded chicken is that you can use it in a ton of stuff…so after scavenging my fridge for other unused ingredients, I found some Pillsbury crescent rolls.

Well hello instant empanadas.

I unrolled the ENTIRE sheet of dough onto a floured surface and then used a plastic cup to roll it out (classy, eh?).  Then I cut it into 6 squares and added my yummins:

I happened to have black beans, scallions and Monterrey-Jack cheese in the fridge, so it just kind of worked out.  You really could put any of your faves in these little buggers.

Pull the dough over the yummins and seal the empanadas with your fingers.  Don’t be shy – I made mine really full and I had to keep using one finger to stuff black beans back in as I sealed them.

They APPEAR slimy because I put an egg-white wash on them so that they would brown up into a heavenly crust. (The slits are optional.)

I baked these at 375°F for ????  Not really sure!!!  I was running around doing stuff, so I just kept an eye on them.  I’d estimate like 15-20 minutes?  When they look golden brown, give them a tad longer.

What?  I’m not a chef.

But I did come up with this manna from Heaven:

Yeah.  I got to eat that.  With sour cream and extra green onions on top.

Pillsbury crescent rolls are only like 110 calories, 6 g of fat and 11 carbs a serving (which is one empanada).  NOTE:  They do have reduced fat Pillsbury crescent rolls, these just happen to be the ones I had in the fridge.

All the taste of an empanada without any of the work.  Genius.  Inexpensive. And I got to get rid of some stuff in my fridge.

Happy Tex-Mex Monday ♥

A little inspiration, a little insanity

17 May

Hello, my name I Michelle and I have a cooking problem.

I know we all have little tendencies when we grocery shop or plan what we are going to eat.  (Hopefully you have a plan before you step foot in the grocery store or you are, in my opinion, doomed.)

I thought I would share with you guys my rules for cooking:

1) Nothing gets wasted.  If you have half a jalapeno pepper, you better find something to make to use it.

This rule came from me buying a bunch of fresh veggies, procrastinating, and throwing a ton of food away/into compost.  I put my foot down and it’s been working.  Not having the doors on my pantry has really helped me stick to this.  I remember ingredients that I might normally look past; those are the canned goods I buy that sit there for months.

2) Meal planning is essential before grocery shopping.

If I just show up at the grocery store I end up with random tubs of feta cheese, jicama and 3 boxes of graham crackers because they were on sale.  Wasteful.  Of food and money.

3) Only collect recipes you want and think you will realistically try.

So many people I know collect and hoard magazines/articles of recipes they want to try, but never do.  These collections pile up and you forget the whole reason why you kept the mag.  When you are trying to plan a grocery strip, going through tons of magazines just to find that one really good ravioli recipe you found isn’t realistic.

4) Constantly try to find ways to be inventive, but don’t forget the recipes that have been proven tried and true.

Its okay to try new recipes, but don’t lose the ones that you fell in love with.  The easy ones.  The ones that you know will impress your friends, family and in-laws.  The ones that you’re excited to share with someone.

Which brings us to something else I want to share:  my completely Type A system of recipe selection.

Disclaimer:  I am like this with everything.  My files have files and those sub-files are probably in order by color, alphabetical order, or chronological order.  Most of these systems don’t make sense to anyone but me.  That just means that those people aren’t on my level, yet.  Or something…

Since I’m a food magazine, tv-show, food blog junkie, I’m constantly pulling recipes to try.

They go in one of two books:

The green one is for recipes, the black one is for breads, baking, etc.

The green one is full of all kinds of treasures like magazine recipes:

Idea for holidays and seasonal treats:

Cooking Club instructional articles:

And some of my most dear possessions.

Ones that had been annotated by my grandmother in recipe exchanges with friends (many of whom I remember fondly):

Copies of my grandmother’s handwritten cookbook:

This is a recipe that the executive chef of the Halifax Club (a private club which we belonged to when I lived in New Smyrna Beach, Florida) gave my grandmother.  It looks like she wrote some notes and gave it an “A”!

These things are so special to me, a connection with her that is no longer a phone call away.  My grandmother raised me for much of my childhood, when my own mother wasn’t able to.  She loved to cook and even took a series of Asian cooking classes.  I even have her recipe assignments, which include her notes and that grades given by her instructor.

As a child, all I knew was that everything she cooked was amazing.  It wasn’t a common interest that we shared at the time, which is unfortunate.  She passed away my freshman year of college and my interest in food came years later as I moved out of my parents house and into my own apartment.  My own mother does not enjoy cooking.  When I visit her house, we eat the same foods that we ate when I was a child!

Anyway, the recipes that pass the picky eater test get put into a super secret cookbook that I’ve been compiling.

I taught myself to cook so that I have something to share with my children:  A love for healthy food.  A lesson that can only be taught by someone who has the experience.

Why do you love to cook?

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