Arts, Entertainment, Living

Weekly Menu for the Week of October 17

Saturday, 15 October 2011 07:35 AM Written by
Welcome to my weekly menu!

Lots of fan favorites this week!!! AND there are 3 Double Duty Meals! The leftovers are reinvented for a FUN and easy Friday Night Happy Hour to kick off the weekend! ENJOY!!!

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ALWAYS check your coupons!!! Not only the ones we receive in our newspapers and mid-week mailers but also online! Check out

Follow the plan so you can save time, money, and a few calories! Remember – cooking our own food is healthier than ordering in and eating out any day!!! Your family, wallet and waistline will thank you!

I hope you all enjoy your week, the recipes and the savings!


Ziti and Spinach Parmesan
Garlic Bread

Ziti and Spinach Parmesan

1 Medium onion, chopped
3 Garlic cloves, chopped
2 T. Extra virgin olive oil
1 – 35 oz. Can of Italian peeled tomatoes
¼ t. Crushed red pepper
¾ t. Salt
¼ t. Freshly ground pepper
10 oz. Dried ziti or penne or farfalle
1 lb. Fresh spinach, stems discarded, leaves thoroughly rinsed, dried and coarsely chopped.
6 oz. Mozzarella cheese, cut into ½ inch cubes
1 c. Freshly grated parmesan cheese

In a large skillet, cook the onion and garlic in the oil over moderate heat until the onion is just softened, about 5 minutes. Using your hands, break up the tomatoes and add them with their juice to the skillet. Stir in the crushed red pepper. Increase the heat to moderately high and boil the sauce stirring until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 18 minutes. Stir in both the salt and pepper. Keep warm.

Meanwhile, preheat the broiler and cook pasta according to directions. Drain well and return to the dry pot. Stir in the spinach, mozzarella and 1/3 cup of the parmesan. Add the tomato sauce and toss.

Transfer the hot ziti to a baking dish and sprinkle the remaining 2/3 cup of parmesan on top. Broil for 1-2 minutes, until browned. Serve at once.


Asian Pork Wraps
Stir Fried Broccoli

Asian Pork Wraps

1 – 2 or 3 lb. boneless pork roast, or use 8-10 boneless chops depending on their thickness– OR – use 2 pork tenderloins
½ cup of Hoisin sauce
2 T. grated ginger
2 T. sherry cooking wine
1 clove of garlic, minced
6 shiitake mushrooms
12 flour tortillas
2 t. sesame oil
4 cups of shredded cabbage
1 bunch of green onions, sliced

Place pork roast in crock-pot. Combine 3 T. of hoisin sauce, ginger, sherry and garlic. Pour over the roast. Discard stems from mushrooms, chop remaining part and then cover the roast. Cook on low for 8-10 hours.

Remove pork from crock-pot. Stir cabbage into broth in the crock-pot. Heat to high setting, cover and cook an additional 5 minutes or until wilted. Shred pork with two forks and return to crock-pot.

Heat oven to 300˚. Brush tortillas with sesame oil and stack on a sheet of foil. Wrap the tortillas and heat the packet for 10 minutes.

To serve, spread each tortilla with remaining hoisin sauce, top with shredded pork mixture and green onions. Roll-up and enjoy!

Stir Fried Broccoli

One head of broccoli
2 T. of Canola Oil
2 cloves of garlic minced
½ t. of red pepper flakes (optional)
1 T. of soy sauce
Sesame oil

Chop broccoli into florets. Place broccoli in microwave safe covered dish with 2 T. of water and microwave on HIGH for 2 minutes. This will steam it. Put oil and garlic in a skillet and heat. Once oil is hot, add chopped broccoli and stir frequently for 5 minutes. Add red pepper flakes and soy sauce. Cook and stir for an additional 3 minutes. Prior to serving, drizzle broccoli with a little sesame oil.


Baked Potato Soup

Baked Potato Soup – this is a hearty, stick-to-your-ribs-kinda-soup

8-10 large baking potatoes
2/3 cup of butter
2/3 cup all purpose flour
7 cups of milk
4 green onions, sliced
1 pkg. of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 ¼ cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 (8 oz.) container of sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste

Bake potatoes at 400˚ for 1 hour. When cool, slice in half and scoop out the middle - leave enough potato on the skin (think restaurant potato skins) and reserve the skins for future use – Friday Night Happy Hour Appetizer Night. Mash the potato scooped from the skin to desired consistency. I like it a little lumpy, which gives a nice texture to the soup.

Melt butter in a Dutch oven or large soup pot over low heat. Add flour and whisk constantly for one minute until smooth. Gradually, add milk and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until mixture has thickened and is bubbly.

Stir in mashed, lumpy potatoes and green onions and bring to a boil. Be careful not to scorch!!! Once soup has been brought to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add bacon, cheese and sour cream. Site until cheese melts. Serve immediately.


Taco Night

Regular Beef or Fish Tacos

Fish Tacos
Black Bean and Corn Salad

Fish Tacos

¼ cup sour cream
2 T. lime juice
Salt and pepper
¼ small cabbage – red or green – thinly shredded (about 2 ½ cups)
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno, sliced in half lengthwise, ½ of pepper minced
2 T. olive oil
1 lb. tilapia fillets
8 flour tortillas – taco size
½ cup of fresh cilantro leaves

In a large bowl combine sour cream and lime. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside half of the sour cream mixture for serving. Toss cabbage, scallions and minced jalapeno with the remaining mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

In a large non-stick skillet, heat oil and remaining jalapeno half, swirling around to coat the bottom of the pan. The idea is to infuse the oil with a little heat from the pepper. Season fish with salt and pepper. Cook fish in skillet until golden brown on all sides, about 5-6 minutes. It is ok if the fish falls apart because you are going to stuff the tacos with it. Discard the jalapeno.

Warm tortillas in the microwave covered with paper towels or in the oven wrapped in foil. Fill each tortilla with slaw, fish and top each with fresh cilantro. If cilantro is not your thing you could substitute fresh parsley. Drizzle with reserved sour cream mixture. Serve immediately!

***Time Saving Tip**** Buy pre-shredded angel hair cabbage. This will be found near the bagged salads.

Black Bean and Corn Salad

1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of white corn, drained and rinsed
1 diced avocado
¼ cup of red onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
¼ cup of chopped cilantro
Juice of 2 limes
¼ t. cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours. This can be eaten alone or with tortilla chips.

Regular Tacos

Depending on the size of your family brown enough ground beef and add your favorite taco seasonings. Usually, one pound of beef will feed a family of four. Don't be afraid of leftovers – we will use them again!

Freezing tip – if you have purchased a value pack of ground beef – several pounds – and do not use all of the ground beef and wish to freeze some, be sure you flatten the meat prior to freezing. Think large raw meat pancake. This will save you space in your freezer because you can stack meat nicely and it will save you time defrosting the same for a future meal. Also, consider browning ALL of the meat and freeze only the beef you won't use for the tacos. Reheating frozen ground beef that has already been browned is quick and easy. Then you can add it to a jar of sauce for a quick meat sauce or for sloppy joes! There are many possibilities!


Happy Hour At Home

Pork Lettuce Wraps
Potato Skins

Pork Lettuce Wraps

1 T. of Canola oil
Leftover Asian Pork
Slivered carrots
Small can of chopped water chestnuts
Head of iceberg lettuce or Bibb lettuce

Heat oil in a skillet. Add leftover pork, carrots and water chestnuts. Stir frequently until heated through.

To serve, pile pork mixture into a lettuce leaf, drizzle with dipping sauce, and wrap it up!

Dipping Sauce – you could use a store bought dipping sauce or the recipe below which has been adapted from PF Chang's

¼ cup of sugar
½ cup of water
2 T. soy sauce
2 T. rice wine vinegar
2 T. of ketchup
1/8 t. of sesame oil
1 T. of Hot mustard (optional – depending on your heat index)
1 – 2 t. of garlic and chili paste

Dissolve the sugar in the water by boiling the same. Set aside. Combine Soy sauce, vinegar, ketchup and sesame oil. Mix together the hot water and the hot mustard. Depending on your taste, you can add some of the mustard mixture with the soy mixture. You can also add the garlic and chili paste to the soy mixture. Keep adding various amounts to the soy sauce mixture until the taste suits you!

Potato skins

Reserved potato skins from soup
Melted butter or Spray oil
Cheddar cheese
Toppings: bacon, sour cream, green onions

Take your potato skins and place them on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with melted butter or spray with oil. Place in a 450˚ oven and bake until crisp. Remove skins and add cheddar cheese and place under the broiler until cheese has melted. Add your toppings – fun for the kids to make their own!


Tortilla chips
Leftover taco meat, refried beans, cheddar cheese.
Toppings: salsa, olives, jalapenos, sour cream, green onions

Spread tortilla chips onto a cookie sheet. Reheat taco meat and beans in the microwave. Layer the beef and beans on top of the chips. Load it up with cheddar cheese. Place the cookie sheet in a 400˚ oven until heated through and cheese has melted. To serve, plate up the nachos and have everyone add their own toppings!

What to drink at Happy Hour???
Serve cold beer and margaritas for the adults and lemonade for the kids!

What an easy, cheap and fun way to use up your leftovers from the week!!! Invite a few friends and spread the cheer!

And now for the shopping list. As always, double check your pantry, fridge and freezer to see if you already have any of the items listed below. This will reduce your spending and create less waste! And NEVER shop without a plan!

Please check your local grocery for its weekly specials. Also, many of the items can be purchased at Costco or Sam's Club at great prices!

1 lb. fresh spinach
6 shiitake mushrooms or a small package of regular mushrooms
3 bunches of Green onions
8-10 baking potatoes
2 Jalapenos
2 limes
Red onion
Iceberg or Bibb lettuce

Italian bread

Olive oil
Crushed red pepper
Sherry cooking wine
Canola oil
Cayenne pepper
Rice wine vinegar

Canned Goods/Ethnic Foods/Dry Goods
35 oz. can of Italian Peeled Tomatoes
Penne pasta
Hoisin sauce
Sesame oil
Soy sauce
Black beans
White corn
Taco seasoning
Small can of water chestnuts – chopped
Hot mustard
Garlic and chili paste

Seafood/Meat Case/Butcher
2-3 lb. boneless, pork roast
Tilapia – if doing fish tacos – ground beef if doing regular

Frozen Foods

6 oz. mozzarella block cheese or fresh mozzarella
2 pkgs. of flour tortillas – taco size
Shredded cheddar cheese
Sour cream



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Wonderful Carolyn Wonderland

Saturday, 15 October 2011 12:00 AM Written by
Carolyn Wonderland pours herself into a song with her lap steel. (Jim White photos)

For a change, BlueNotes took his own advice, and went out to see Carolyn Wonderland at the Thunderbird Cafe Thursday night. He -- and I -- were not disappointed. (Just for the record, this was not a blues show -- so diehards can stop reading now.) 

But it was a fine musical show. Carolyn sings with controlled abandon, plays guitar with similar intensity, works a liquid lap steel, and plays a mean trumpet. And she does it over a wide range of material -- including some blues, some countryish stuff, a little Tex-Mex, some gospel, and for an encore, some good old rock 'n' roll.

carolyn_300I hadn't seen her before, but I'd read some reviews, and some descriptions of her work comparing her to another passionate Texas singer, Janis Joplin. And yes, there are some similarities. Carolyn seems incapable of singing without a Janis-like passion, tossing her vocals and red hair into tangles of emotion.

But it's always unfair to compare artists. They are all unique, especially the good ones. Carolyn pairs her vocals and guitar into  seamless  cries of pleasure and pain.

She looks like she's emotionally exhausted after each song, then starts in again, completely fresh, as if invigorated by her just-completed musical experience. She and her music stand on their own, not needing a comparison with anyone. She's been doing this for about 25 years now, starting in her mid-teens, and she's no one but Carolyn Wonderland. And that's a good thing.

As usual, when I'm enjoying a show, I don't always take good notes (the "Notes" part of BlueNotes is just a name, after all). She did some tunes from her latest CD, "Peace Meal," including "What Good Can Drinkin' Do" (a Janis Joplin original), "Victory of Flying," "Shine On," Bob Dylan's "Meet Me in the Morning" and a wicked lap steel version of a classic blues, "Dust My Broom."

There was also a fine original called "Misunderstood," from an earlier album, "Miss Understood." There was much more, but you had to be there. And you should have been. The T-Bird was full, but not overflowing, and it's a shame. Carolyn, who seemed to have at least a good a time as the audience, made fine music -- the kind that lifts the spirits and roills everyone into the night with a good feeling.

She has two very good musicians backing her -- Rod Hooper on drums and Cole El-Saleh on keyboards -- although I suspect she would do just fine all by her lonesome.

This how her music felt....

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'Hot Rod Lincoln' - The Evolution

Friday, 14 October 2011 06:49 PM Written by

Thanks to Bluzer for kicking this off. Let me continue. Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen had the biggest hit with "Hot Rod Lincoln"  in 1972, but they didnt write it.  Charlie Ryan did that. There was a "Hot Rod Lincoln" site up with a good history but it doesn't seem to be active at the moment.  Suffice it to say Ryan moved to Idaho and wrote the song in response to the Arkie Shibley hit "Hot Rod Race."

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Just 5 weeks to Broadway ShowPlane, Nov. 16-20

Friday, 14 October 2011 02:41 PM Written by

Four musicals and a clutch of stars (Bernadette Peters, Harry Connick Jr., Sutton Foster, Joel Gray and more) headline the PG's Fall Broadway ShowPlane, Nov. 16-20.

That's just five weeks ahead, but there's plenty of time to make your plans. For a full description, just click this link. Or you can click on the PG Theater Trips plaque on the left of the Theater page -- which is probably the page where you found the link to this Theater Blog. 

If you want even more info, you can read the trip brochure prepared by Gulliver's Travels, which handles the trip logistics. (I'm the one who picks the shows and talks to the group along the way -- heaven forbid I should be making plane and hotel reservations.) You'll find links to the colorful brochure and the reservation form in that same description (here). Or you can just call Gulliver's at 412-441-3131.

Hop aboard.

-- Chris Rawson

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Dance Central 2 - review

Friday, 14 October 2011 01:26 AM Written by

Dance Central 2 is the sequel to what I believed to be the best game available for the Kinect.  The first Dance Central brought innovation and a genuine fun-factor to the Xbox 360.  Not only that, but it showed that dancing games aren’t just about stepping on directional arrows on a floor mat any more.  These were real pop dance moves.

Since Dance Central was a Kinect launch title, the developers at Harmonix were working with this hardware for the first time.  That doesn’t mean the game had a ton of kinks, but there was definite room for improvement.  Now, a year later, in comes the sequel to give gamers the best dancing video game money can buy.

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For a link to headlines of recent TV news and views posts, click here.

TV Q&A with Rob Owen

Submit a question to TV Q&A by clicking here.

This week's TV Q&A (after the "Read more" jump below) responds to questions about  TV producers, “Dirty Soap” and “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.”

As always, thanks for reading, and keep the questions coming.
- Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV writer

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Obsessed with: Fur collars

Friday, 14 October 2011 12:00 AM Written by

For the past few winters, I have been obsessed with owning a faux fur scarf/collar.  Why? I have no idea, but I have fallen completely in love with them. This summer, while on vacation, I finally broke down and purchased one from a high-end department store. (I know: Why from a high-end department store? Why in the summer? I was in love. Love makes you do strange things!)

I think a fur collar adds a touch of elegance to any outfit. It can be added to a casual outfit of jeans, t-shirt and cardigan for a fall trip to the pumpkin patch, or can add a touch of glam to a cocktail dress for a holiday party. Also, if you want to enhance your winter jacket, add a fur collar for a lux look.

If you don't want to break the bank, like I did, go vintage and DIY. You can often find cardigans and jackets with faux (and sometimes real) fur attached to them. Simply detach the collar and make it your own. 

Have a great weekend everyone, be sure to check back on Monday for another Clutch post! I'll be talking headbands, so stay tuned!

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51AG5RkeOqL._SL500_AA300_Somewhere in the late 1970s, after his band called the Blues Stompers faded away, blues harpman Sugar Ray Norcia formed the Bluetones, and here, in 2011, is the band's latest CD -- "Evening" (Severn Records).

It's a good one.

Norcia has a long history with the blues and some of its greatest players. That depth adds considerable integrity to the music he makes, and his own talents as a musican, bandleader, songwriter and singer add the rest.

"Evening" is a fine CD, filled with smart covers and honest originals, and most of all, filled with good old-fashioned blues. From the tough opening track, "I'm Having A Ball" (Johnny Young), Sugar Ray and band rock and stomp their way through a sturdy set of  blues. Boston's "Monster" Mike Welch is his guitar player, and his work here lays a stinging foundation for everything, from the raucous opener to slow churners like the "You Know My Love" -- the guitar solo midway is a tastefully burning effort.

Ray's vocals range from gritty to soulful, and are always impassioned. He's still carrying the message of the blues he got somewhere back in the '70s. His harp work floats around the vocals -- check the smoothness on "I Like What You Got." Harp and piano (Anthony Geraci) weave a sweet musical tapestry on "Too Many Rules and Regulations" and again on "I came Down With the Blues."

Sugar Ray seems to have devoted himself to carrying on the tradition of the blues, without fancy touches or unnecessary experimentation. It works. Grab a copy of this CD and your favorite blues beverage (not to mention your favorite dancing partner), and enjoy the music. I tend to favor the uptempo stuff over the ballads, but that's just me. It's all good.

Here's a video:

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